StATS: Nitty Gritty NIH (September 3, 2004)

Bill Caskey talked about some of the nitty gritty details of the NIH Grant process. His talk focused mostly on what happens after a grant gets funded.

NIH started as a one-room Laboroatory of Hygine in 1887. There are 27 separate institutes and centers. They estimate the budget to be 28 billion in 2005 and 38 thousand research project grants. You should visit their web site at

There are a number of things that can slow down the award process: 

When you get the Notice of Grant Award (NGA), you should read it. It has the terms and conditions, citing the Code of Federal Regulation (government-wide requirements) and the Grants Policy Statement (the NIH specific requirements), information about the closeout term, and grant specific information about restrictions and what must be done by when to remove restrictions. Failure to follow any restriction means disallowance of costs. It also gives the name of the Grants Management Officer who signed the NGA, contact information for the Grants Specialist and the Grants Officer. You should know these names!

You need prior approval from the NIH in the change in the scope of work, pre-award costs more than 90 days prior to effiective date of new or competing award, change in key personnel, change in grantee institution, change in grantee status, or addition of a foreign component, any activities disapproved or restricted.

A change in scope usually means a change in specific aims, substitution of one animal model for another, change from approved use of animals or human subjects, shift in research emphasis to different disease area, application of a new technology (i.e., changing to a different type of assay), significant rebudgeting (more than 25% of total direct costs awarded). 

Withdrawal of the PI or key personnel, absence for period of 3 continuous months, reduction of percent effort by a quarter or more.

Unobligated funds of more than 25% of the current project period budget indicates either lack of progress, or perhaps the PI has asked for an excessive budget.

You can ask for a supplemental request for a single isolated emergency, unanticipated cost increases, bridge funding to maintain project momentum, near certain major advance, and minority/disability/reentry supplement.

If you have more than one NIH grant, if a cost cannot be reasonably allocated to a specific project, it can be charged to any or all of the benefiting projects on any reasonable basis.

You can't have 0% commitment to a project and still be listed as a key personnel.

The PHS 398 form has been revised, and the NIH is trying to harmonize this with electronic submissions. You may need to get a NIH Commons ID.

SNAP Streamlined Noncompeting Application Process

Data sharing requirements. Required for all applications requesting at least $500,000 (direct costs) in any single budget period, or you need to state why data sharing is not possible. You can request funds for data sharing and archiving. The plan needs to be assessed by the NIH program staff and any concerns have to be resolved prior to award.

Failure to submit timely reports may affect future funding for you and/or your institution.

The NIH Commons is worth looking at. This is an effort to streamline much of the grants process. In particular, you can now optionally submit competitive grants electronically.

This page was written by Steve Simon while working at Children's Mercy Hospital. Although I do not hold the copyright for this material, I am reproducing it here as a service, as it is no longer available on the Children's Mercy Hospital website. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Grant writing.