Guide to NIH Funding Opportunities

The NIH websites listed below provide considerable assistance in identifying the granting/award mechanism that is most appropriate for you, how to apply, and which of the multitude of forms that you should use. Review and award dates are given for each type of application. In addition, the Office of Extramural Research has useful information and forms for applications.

Award Classification

In general, NIH awards are classified into “series.” Award mechanisms and qualifications within a specific series tend to be similar. Below is a summary of what is available to you on-line through the Office of Extramural Research. Keep in mind that not all institutes offer all the award mechanisms listed.

Training and Fellowship Awards (T and F series)

Career Development Awards (K Series)

K awards provide support for senior postdoctoral fellows or faculty-level candidates. K awards are designed to promote the career development of specific groups of individuals based on their past training and career stage. Below are common K award mechanisms. View the comprehensive series list on the NIH website.

  • K01: Mentored Research Scientist Development Award

    The K01 award provides support and “protected time” for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence.

  • K08: Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award

    The K08 award represents the continuation of a long-standing NIH program that provides support and “protected time” to individuals with a clinical doctoral degree for an intensive, supervised research career development experience in the fields of biomedical and behavioral research, including translational research.

Research Awards (R Series)

These grants are for conducting original research projects. Awards range from small grants (R03) to large RO1 projects with budgets up to $500,000 per year or more (with permission from NIH). Below are common R award mechanisms. View the comprehensive series list on the NIH website.

  • R01: Original research project grant

    The RO1 award for original research projects is typically given to established investigators who have had one or more lower levels of support from the NIH.

  • R03: Small research grants

    The R03 grant mechanism will support small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources.

  • R13: Grants to support a scientific meeting

    The purpose of the NIH Research Conference (R13) Grant and Cooperative Agreement (U13) Program is to support high quality scientific conferences that are relevant to the public health and to the scientific missions of the participating Institutes and Centers (ICs).

Program Project/Center Grants (P Series)

Program project/center grants are large, multi-project efforts that generally include a diverse array of research activities.  NIH Institutes and Centers issue funding opportunity announcements to indicate their interest in funding this type of program. Below are common P award mechanisms. View the comprehensive series list on the NIH website.

  • P01: Research Program Project

    This award supports a broadly based multidisciplinary or multifaceted research program that has a specific major objective. The concept of a program project grant is that projects closely related to a central theme can be conducted more effectively and efficiently through a coordinated collaborative or multi-disciplinary approach that utilizes common resources, facilities, and instruments.

  • P30: Core Research Center Grant

    Core facilities are defined as shared resources that enhance productivity or in other ways benefit a group of investigators working in areas related to the stated goals of the Core Center. The pilot and feasibility program provides modest support for new initiatives or for feasibility studies for established or new investigators who are engaged in research of direct relevance to the Core Center. A Core Center must be an identifiable organizational unit either within a single university medical center or representing a consortium of cooperating institutions that includes an affiliated university. Close cooperation, communication, and collaboration among all involved personnel of all professional disciplines are the ultimate objectives of the Core Center.

  • P50: Specialized Center of Research (SCORs)

    The purpose of a SCOR program is to expedite development and application of new knowledge of specific importance to diseases within the mission of the institute. A SCOR program is intended as a mechanism to focus on the human disease.

  • P60: Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC)

    The aim of the MCRC program is to support a full range of outstanding multidisciplinary clinical research on arthritis, musculoskeletal and skin diseases. Each MCRC is organized around a methodology core and will be expected to include a minimum of three highly meritorious projects encompassing clinical research drawing from two or more clinical approaches.

NIH Loan Repayment Programs

In exchange for a two-year commitment to qualified research funded by a domestic nonprofit organization or U.S. federal, state, or local government entity, NIH will repay up to $35,000 per year of your qualified educational debt. Loan repayment benefits are in addition to the institutional salary you receive for your research. The electronic application, application guidelines, and more information on these programs are available on the NIH Loan Repayment Program website.

Requests for Applications and Requests for Proposals

NIH often has certain initiatives and products that they would like to see accomplished or produced. In this situation, institutes will offer a Request for Application (RFA) for a grant application, or a Request for Proposal (RFP) for contract proposals. Potential applicants should frequently consult the home pages of each institute that may be applicable to them for these types of program announcements. A word of caution: often, the turn-around time from announcement to date of submission is very short.