The NIH is the biggest source of funding for biomedical research. But, the grant applications it requests are very complicated, and are confusing and overwhelming to novices to the process. Here we have a collection of resources to help you write a competitive grant.
If you’re new to grantwriting, it’s a good idea to read the Grant-Writing Overview we developed before you look specifically at this information for NIH grants.
The NIH is the biggest source of funding for biomedical research, and for many PIs in this arena, getting an NIH R01 grant is a key step to career stability. The NIH recognizes that the grant applications it requests are very complicated, and are confusing and overwhelming to novices to the process. To address this and lower the learning curve, they have developed a number of resources to help new NIH grantwriters. We’ve listed them in the table below, with links.
In addition to these resources from the NIH, there is a wide variety of content with recommendations and resources for developing a more-competitive NIH grant. We’ve included several of these below, as well.
One in particular that we’ll highlight is the NIH grant tutorials at the Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences (CLIMB) program at Northwestern University. They have developed a collection of excellent content to help scientists develop high-quality, competitive NIH grant proposals. The program targets early graduate students, but the content is useful advice for any NIH grantwriter. We have included links to the individual tutorials below.
- “Aims Pages, Part 1: the Rhetorical Pattern of Introductions in Aims Pages” (links to video of ppt presentation overlaid with audio narration, plus example Aims pages) – 13 min, from 2011
- “Aims Pages, Part 2: Patterns and Content in the Specific Aims and Conclusions in the Aims Pages” (links to video of ppt presentation overlaid with audio narration, plus example Aims page) – 12 min, from 2011
- “Research Plan, Part 1: Understanding NIH Review Criteria” This video provides a “high level” overview of the Peer Review criteria NIH is now using in evaluating grant applications. (links to video of ppt presentation overlaid with audio narration, plus NIH Criteria Chart PDF) – 8 min, from 2011
- “Research Plan, Part 2: Analyzing Overall Structure” This video analyzes the overall “big structure” of the research plan of two funded NIH grant applications. (links to video of ppt presentation overlaid with audio narration, plus 2 PDFs of NIH research plans) – 14 min, from 2011
- “Research Plan, Part 3: Significance, Innovation” This video analyzes the significance and innovation elements of two funded NIH grant applications. (links to video of ppt presentation overlaid with audio narration, plus 2 PDFs of NIH research plans) – 11 min, from 2011
- “Research Plan, Part 4: Analyzing the Approach Section” This video focuses on approach section of one of the funded examples (see parts 2 and 3, above). (direct link to video of ppt presentation overlaid with audio narration) – 14 min, from 2011
- “Keys to Writing Successful NIH Research and Career Development Grant Applications” (PDF of ppt, 30 slides) – introduction to grant review process, components of NIH proposals, grantwriting tips.
We will continue to be developing this post to add more content and resources about NIH grants. If you know of resources or content you think should be represented here, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Resources for NIH Grants||Web Links|
|Available from the NIH|
|Grants Process Overview (updated Aug 2014, seems to be kept up to date) – this has a lot of information if you use the navigation panel on the left.||Link|
|“Strategy for NIH Funding” – from NIAID, but useful for any NIH applicant||Link|
|Sample Research Grants that got funded (from NIAID) — real applications, annotated to help you understand the grantsmanship||Link|
|Information about the SF424 (R&R) application and biosketches (kept up to date)||Link|
|Common Mistakes in NIH Applications – a concise list (from June 2011)||Link|
|NIH Grant Review Process YouTube Videos (downloadable, transcripts available) – these variously address the peer review process, tips for grantwriting, and other relevant topics||Link|
|“Writing a Grant Application: A “Technical” Checklist” (from 2007) – a little out-of-date, but a lot of the information is still relevant. The timeframe they recommend seems a little short, though.||Link|
|“What Happens to Your Grant Application: A Primer for New Applicants” (from July 2013, 2 pg) – overview of steps and timeframe from submission to review and notification of results||Link|
|“NIH Grant Application Submission and Review – Useful Web Links” (from Nov 2014, 1 pg) – useful weblinks for external NIH funding||Link|
|Guidelines and Documents for NIH Reviewers (Mar 2015) – it’s very helpful to clearly understand the review criteria when writing||Link|
|Other resources for NIH grants|
|The Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences (CLIMB) program at Northwestern University – developed NIH grant tutorials||Link|
|“NIH info” – a very nice list of NIH resource links for researchers and grantwriters from Albert Einstein College of Medicine||Link|
|The NIH R01 Toolkit ( Science Careers, July 2007)||Link|
|Submitting Your Best-Possible R01 Application (Science Careers, May 2012)||Link|
|NIH Grants 101: Funding Mechanisms, Peer Review Mechanisms, Peer Review, and Strategies for Success
(Sharon L. Milgram, NIH OITE, Feb 2011)
|“Guide to NIH R01 grant tips and resources” – from ScienceSherpa||Link|
|“Specific Aims” – a great how-to from UCSC||Link|
|“Specific Aims Checklist” – also from UCSC||Link|