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NCCIH Research Blog

Working on a Grant Application This Summer?

July 28, 2016

Martina Schmidt, Ph.D.

Martina Schmidt, Ph.D.


Division of Extramural Activities

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

Are you planning to submit a grant application soon? Recently Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, blogged to encourage applicants to submit their applications early (days, not hours, before a deadline). As Chief of NCCIH’s Office of Scientific Review (OSR), I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Lauer’s tips:

  • Submit early to leave yourself plenty of time to correct application errors.
  • If you are using downloadable forms, you may want to try ASSIST, NIH’s Web-based system to prepare and submit applications.
  • Read and follow all instructions.
  • Make sure your organization has completed all registrations and annual registration renewal has been completed for the System for Award Management (SAM).
  • Track your application after submission.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading and following all instructions in both the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide).

Please note that applications for NCCIH-issued RFAs and PARs will usually be reviewed in Special Emphasis Panels organized by NCCIH’s OSR. These FOAs can have one or more receipt dates. For FOAs with several receipt dates, we may only allow applications to be submitted once or twice a year and not in every round in a given year. Be aware of the receipt dates.

Also, we may ask applicants to include specific information in the application, and we will instruct reviewers to assess this information. Pay close attention to the review criteria because they may differ from the standard review criteria.

If NCCIH is one of several NIH components signing on to an FOA, pay attention to statements about our Center’s research interests. Be aware of notices listed in the FOA that clarify what studies will or won’t be accepted for a particular FOA. For example, for PA-16-161 (Parent R21) you will see notice NOT-AT-15-004 listed, which states NCCIH will not accept applications that include clinical trials in response to this FOA.

Applications that miss critical elements requested in the FOA will be returned as incomplete and will not go to review. So, always give yourself time to address common errors.

Good luck with your application—we’re looking forward to receiving it!


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