National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Mission: The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) Grants – R15:

Most NIH grants at Bates College have been through the AREA program, which is reserved for institutions that do not have a history of receiving major funding from NIH. AREA grants are investigator-initiated, meaning that you can apply for any topic of potential interest to NIH, rather than responding to a specific topical solicitation. For more details about AREA – R15, please review the Program Announcement at

Other NIH Funding Mechanisms of Potential Interest to Bates College Faculty:

  • R01 – Major Research Grants are the major funding mechanism for NIH, used by all Institutes.
  • R21 – Exploratory Research Grants provide a lower level of funding than R01 grants, and are used to enable research that takes new, high-risk, high-reward directions. They are used by most Institutes
  • R03 – Small Research Grants are suitable for pilot studies or new analyses of existing data sets. Roughly half of the Institutes use this funding mechanism.
  • K-type Grants are for training and mentoring, either of early-career investigators or of mid-career and established investigators seeking to learn new fields and methodologies in order to change their research direction. They require collaboration with an established, NIH-funded investigator who is a recognized expert in the field.

While R01/R21 grants are usually awarded to investigators at major research institutions and medical schools, even if you never apply for an R01 or R21 grant, it is useful to keep track of new and existing R01/R21 solicitations. This will help you keep on top emergent NIH research interests, which should be kept in mind in preparing AREA – R15 applications. R01/R21 grants may also a suitable catalyst for new inter-institutional collaborative projects. Solicitations can be found through the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at

NIH Institutes:

Whether you are applying in response to a specific solicitation, or submitting an investigator-initiated project, all NIH grant applications must be directed to a particular Institute. For the most part, NIH Institutes are organized based on anatomical systems or disease processes, and thus are more analogous to the organization of the faculty of a medical school than of a liberal arts college. Therefore, research programs from a variety of Natural Science and Social Science disciplines may be of interest to the same Institute.

Conversely, basic research in an academic science discipline may be of interest to more than one Institute, depending on the scope of its potential relevance to public health. Be sure to select your Institute carefully, review the abstracts of its recently awarded grants, and reach out to the relevant program officers.

Study Sections:

NIH’s system of peer review is based upon the “Study Section,” a roster of top intramural and extramural researchers in a particular field. Staff of the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) assign each incoming proposal to a study section, however investigators have the option of requesting a specific study section in their application cover letter. Study Section Rosters are publicly announced. We recommend reviewing the list of Study Section Rosters at

NIH Proposal Preparation, Formatting and Submission:

All NIH proposals, whether unsolicited or in response to a solicitation, must conform to all the requirements of the NIH Grants Policy Statement, which is available at The following is a summary of some of the major requirements, but is not intended as a substitute for consultation of the Policy Statement.

  • All proposals must include a brief “Project Summary” (abstract) and a brief “Public Health Relevance Statement”.
  • The “Specific Aims” of your research project must be stated in 1 page.\
  • Your “Research Strategy,” that summarizes the significance and innovation of your project, specifically and separately addresses the Justification and Feasibility, Research Design, Expected Outcomes and Potential Problems and Alternative Strategies for each of your Specific Aims, and concisely states the timeline and future directions of your project, is limited to 12 pages.
  • References Cited is separate from the Research Strategy and does not count against the Page Limit.
  • All PIs, Co-PIs and Senior Personnel must provide a biographical sketch, not to exceed four pages. NIH biographical sketch templates are available from OEG. Full CVs are not acceptable, nor are condensed resumes that do not follow the NIH format.
  • You may only resubmit a previously declined proposal once. Resubmissions must include a 1-page introduction that specifically responds to the reviewer critiques of the prior submission. Any further submissions beyond the first must be for a substantially different project, a determination that will be made by the CSR based on your specific aims.
  • If your project involves human subjects or vertebrate animals, you will not be required to have IRB or IACUC approval in hand at the time of your proposal submission, but you will be required to attach detailed documents that address these concerns. You must have IRB or IACUC approval before NIH will award a grant.

All NIH proposals must be submitted through NIH’s ASSIST portal, which means they must be handled by OEG staff. Please review  Proposal Submission[Link is not accessible ] for more information. NIH proposals must also be validated through both and ASSIST systems and you will be required to include your eRA Commons ID—and those of all Co-PIs and Senior Personnel—in various sections of the proposal. If you need a new eRA Commons ID, or if you had one at a previous institution, please contact OEG.

If you do not remember your eRA Commons ID or password, please contact us for assistance as well.