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NCCIH Research Blog

When and How To Contact NCCIH Program Directors for Help

December 21, 2023

Inna Belfer, M.D., Ph.D.

Inna Belfer, M.D., Ph.D.

Deputy Branch Chief

Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

Program Director

Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

If you plan to apply for a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) or if you’ve submitted a grant application, NCCIH program directors (PDs) can be an excellent resource for you. Today, I want to talk about the ways in which we can help you at different stages in this process.

What PDs do: PDs are NCCIH staff members with expertise in specific scientific fields who provide scientific guidance to investigators pre- and post-award. One of our most important roles is helping investigators identify an appropriate type of grant program and/or funding opportunity for the investigator’s research and provide input on whether the proposed specific aims fit within the mission and priorities of NCCIH. We also identify knowledge gaps and develop ideas for new research initiatives, reach out to investigators (for example, through workshops and conferences), manage the scientific aspects of grants, and serve as liaisons between NCCIH and other organizations. 

Finding the right PD: If you plan to apply for funding, the first thing to do is decide which PD you should contact. Your starting point is to review the list of NCCIH program directors on the NCCIH website. It lists the scientific areas and funding mechanisms each of us is responsible for, with links to our email addresses. If you’re still not sure whom to contact after reviewing the list, email the Division of Extramural Research at and include a brief description of your research idea or, preferably, include a draft of your Specific Aims page. NCCIH staff will refer your message to the right person. Please do not contact more than one PD.

Are you getting ready to apply? When you’re working on an application, the best time to contact a PD is right after you develop a draft of your Specific Aims page. At that point, we can provide input on the selection of grant mechanisms and notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) suitable for the objectives of your proposed project, answer your questions about the NOFOs, discuss the relationship between your proposed research and NCCIH’s strategic priorities, and help clarify National Institutes of Health policies and procedures. It’s always best to discuss your research idea with a PD several months before you apply.

After your application is reviewed: Another good time to contact a PD is after your application has been reviewed and you’ve received your summary statement. A PD can discuss reviewers’ comments with you as well as the possibility of revision and resubmission. A PD may also ask you for point-by-point responses to reviewers’ critiques and for your pre-award documentation.

While conducting your NCCIH-funded study: Congratulations on your successful application! Be sure to stay in touch with your PD to discuss your progress, challenges you’re facing, potential changes in your project, and new developments in your career, such as moving to a different institution. You can also discuss next steps in your research with your PD, and you should share publications and findings from your study.

Please note that best way to contact a PD is by email. Then we can set up a call or virtual meeting to discuss your research. 

Please be patient and persistent; we have many demands on our time, but we look forward to talking with you. We’re here to help. Please bring us your questions; we’ll work with you to find the answers.

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