Best Timing for NIH Applications

My standard advice is always to apply when the application is ready – strong, competitive, and not submitted just to get feedback (especially now with just one resubmission). I always give caveats on the various standard receipt dates and review cycles, such as Cycle 1 carrying the highest risk of delayed or deferred funding. Now, NIAID (who else) has a nice table summarizing all this for me.

New R01 Application Timing Characteristics and Considerations

Review Cycle 1
Apply February 5, 2010
(AIDS: May 7.)
Council in September 2010.

  • This cycle allows you to resubmit within the same fiscal year for review cycle 3.
  • You may experience a delay in your funding while we don’t have a budget or NIAID Paylines. We fund very few grants until we have a budget.
  • If your application is deferred — in the gray zone — for possible funding at the end of the fiscal year, you have the longest wait. Consider revising for cycle 3 instead of waiting.

Review Cycle 2
Apply June 7, 2010
(AIDS: September 7.)
Council in February 2011.

  • When you get your score in October or November 2010, we may have an interim NIAID Payline but not an actual payline.
  • You’re less likely to experience the long delay for funding we described above.
  • The earliest you could resubmit would be for review cycle 1 of the next fiscal year, which means your application would be funded under the next year’s payline. That could mean a long wait.

Review Cycle 3
Apply October 5, 2010
(AIDS: January 7, 2011.)
Council in May 2011.

  • We usually have a budget when you get your score in February or March 2011, so you can compare it with the NIAID Payline.
  • If your score falls in the gray zone, you won’t wait long before NIAID starts making end-of-year funding decisions in June or July.
  • The earliest you could resubmit would be for review cycle 2 of the next fiscal year, which means your application would be funded under the next year’s payline.

Other great articles in this week’s issue of the NIAID Funding News cover the roles and responsibilities of the Advisory Council , whether securing an R21 helps new investigators receive an R01 later (yes, by a 2:1 ratio), and conducting your own “peer review” prior to submitting an application to the NIH.



  1. Fizz said

    Is my ESI status valid for a submission with co-investigators who are not ESI/YI?
    I know that ESI status cannot be valid in joint PI grants but are co-investigators also listed as PIs for this purpose? If so, then doesn’t it defeat the very purpose of this status? I am sure most would agree that it’s not easy getting a first grant without any co-investigators

  2. writedit said

    Not sure I understand what you are asking. You can be a co-investigator (key personnel) on an application for which someone else serves as the PI and preserve your ESI status. You don’t want to be a PI on a multiple-PI application if one or more of the other PIs are established investigators.

    • Fizz said

      Sorry for the confusion. What I meant was this. Will the submission be categorized as ESI status if I have co-investigators who are established?

      • writedit said

        Aha – the status of the co-investigators (key personnel) on your application have no bearing on your ESI status either. Only if one of them is a PI as part of a multiple PI submission. Indeed, having established investigators as key personnel can help by assuring reviewers you have the right expertise and experienced collaborators on board.

  3. Fizz said

    Great ! Thanks! And that’s what I thought too. So, my grant should be on ESI status!
    However, ERA Commons shows both my R21s as not ESI eligible?! Are R21s not counted on ESI status?

    • writedit said

      No, the ESI/NI payline breaks only kick in for R01 applications. For an R21, you swim with the big fish in the general applicant pool.

      • Fizz said

        Thanks! Let’s see how I swim ๐Ÿ™‚
        Btw, I recognize that this was not the correct post to ask my questions, but the ESI topic was getting rather old. It would be nice if you had some way for us readers to comment de novo.

      • writedit said

        Good idea … I think I can create some new pages (versus posts) that will permanently appear in the right column … perhaps organized by broad discussion topics (score/payline, ESI/junior investigator, journal peer review, etc.). Thanks for the idea, Fizz!

  4. Fizz said

    There’s no need to thank me! It is time I gave back a bit to your blog. Since I discovered it, your blog has been my source for inside NIH news and users responses ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Great stuff. Thanks for posting this insight. While there are a lot of official NIH destinations out there, there are very few blogs of this sort. Thanks for another tool in my toolbox.

  6. Fizz said

    Getting back to the topic. Any thoughts on resubmissions? Assuming fulfillment of the reviewers wishes (a big ask!) for a grant submitted in cycle 3, is it better to immediately resubmit in cycle 1 or wait till cycle 2 ?

  7. writedit said

    Applications submitted in Cycle 3 cannot be resubmitted until Cycle 2 (since Council must take action before your application is considered no longer active … not to mention you likely wouldn’t have your summary statement in time to revise sufficiently). The exception is for NI/ESI R01 applicants, who can submit in the next cycle (i.e., Cycle 1 if initial submission in Cycle 3) – as long as they feel their application is ready for rapid resubmission. That is, can you quickly fix the issues raised, do you have compelling new data, do you have additional manuscripts submitted or in press, etc. These latter questions apply to anyone deciding how soon to submit an amended application: is the application stronger and more compelling/exciting and ready for resubmission? Since it’s your last shot now, the answers all must be yes, or you should wait.

    • Fizz said

      Well, the reason I asked is that the last 2 NCI RO1 submission have got us our statements in time for the next immediate cycle. But your comments are well received, and I your last words “Since itโ€™s your last shot now, the answers all must be yes, or you should wait.” is the clincher!

  8. While the stats on pre-R01 R21 awardees are interesting, there are some severe confounds that make it impossible to conclude that being awarded an R21 causes PIs to be more competitive for a later R01.

    For example, perhaps those PIs who were awarded R21s before getting an R01 were awarded the R21s because they are good scientists and/or grant writers. Thus, those PIs would have a greater R01 success rate regardless of having previously been awarded an R21.

    • whimple said

      The cause and effect of R21 funding seems obvious. An R21 pays $275k. You could conclude, unsurprisingly, that PIs with an extra $275k of startup money are more likely to be successful than PIs without the extra $275k.

      • Yeah, but the point is that this is supposedly evidence that applying for R21s *instead* of R01s as a first grant is better than just applying for an R01 as a first grant. Despite what you say, if you would have obtained the R01 in the first place, then it is clearly better to not have applied for an R21 first.

  9. BikeMonkey said

    “other institutes have come up with different results”

    I bet.

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