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NCCIH Research Blog

Zoning In on NCCIH’s Approach to Grant Funding

March 23, 2023

Martina Schmidt, Ph.D.

Martina Schmidt, Ph.D.


Division of Extramural Activities

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

You’ve submitted your application, it’s been peer reviewed, and you’ve received your score and summary statement. What’s next? You’re probably asking, “Will I be funded?” 

It’s a good question, although not always a simple one to answer since many considerations go into each funding decision. I would like to introduce you to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s (NCCIH’s) “funding zones,” which are set up for most grant mechanisms and might help you in getting an idea about the likelihood that your application may be funded. 

A funding zone determines a range of priority scores within which competing applications generally will be considered for funding. These zones and other important terms, policies, and guidelines for applicants are explained more fully at NCCIH Funding Strategy Fiscal Year 2023.  

Besides receiving a score within the funding zones, other factors also affect funding decisions, such as:

  • The recommendations of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health
  • The relevance of the project to the NCCIH Strategic Plan FY 2021–2025 
  • Overall programmatic portfolio balance and needs—e.g., scientific gaps and needs, areas of high interest to NCCIH, underrepresented areas in the Center’s portfolio, and overlap with existing programs
  • The support of development and diversity in the biomedical workforce (e.g., consideration of the professional discipline and career stage of the investigator)
  • The potential for high scientific or public-health impact

It’s possible for an application to receive a score within the applicable funding zone but not be funded, based on one or more of the considerations above. The opposite can also occur, however, when an application scores outside the funding zone but is still brought up for funding consideration (in a process called “HPP” for “high program priority”).

Here are a couple of other considerations about the FY 2023 funding strategy: 

  • If you’re responding to a Request for Applications (RFAs), funding zones generally will not apply since RFAs have set-aside budgets associated with them.
  • Are you an “early stage investigator” (ESI), or do you work with ESIs? One of NCCIH’s research priorities is awards to ESIs. As part of NIH’s Policy Supporting the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, NCCIH has established a separate funding zone for ESIs, applicable for R01 and R01-equivalent award activity codes. 

Want to know more? Visit our Funding Strategy webpage. If you have more detailed questions about your application, please feel free to reach out to the program officer assigned to your application or listed on your Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) of interest.

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