MWEG Active at NIH Paylines & Resources (& update to How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded)

While I have not added new full-length posts to the main blog in years, I continue to actively answer questions and encourage discussion at NIH Paylines & Resources (where I also update NIH paylines as they are posted) and Discussion: All Things NSF. I encourage everyone to monitor posts here and chime in with intel, tips, and personal experience as you are able. Everyone’s participation is what makes the site valuable (even those who ask questions – probably lots of lurkers eagerly waiting for an answer to the same query), which I greatly appreciate!

You can search archives of past questions and answers, including those for Discussion: NIH Scores-Paylines-Policy-Peer Review,  where I have stopped allowing questions so as to consolidate them all in NIH Paylines & Resources, and I am pulling out timelines that folks post listing dates from submission through Notice of Award to help others anticipate the time frame of NIH grant processing.

Please check NIH Grant Application-Award Timelines. You cannot post your timeline there – just search the existing messages – I will update the page with timelines posted in NIH Paylines & Resources comments.

Also … I am (still) supposed to be updating How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded, so please post as comments here what you found most helpful and/or what you would like to see in a book that serves as a reference guide to the NIH funding process. Thanks!



  1. newinvestigator said

    Hi Writedit, Thank you so much for this blog! Gives me a lot of information. I have a question on buying equipment with NIH R01 grant. NIH guidelines say that permission is required by NIH only if you purchase equipment over $25K. I need a piece of equipment in around $20K. Can I go ahead and buy it or inform NIH and get permission? My budget is modular. Thank you!

    • writedit said

      You should be okay – you institution grant administrators can comment better on your specific situation (& you can confirm with your GMS). The cap is a recognition of the cost of routine lab purchases.


  2. Karl said

    Hi Writedit, Great blog! I imagine that there is no great answer and that I have to simply wait; however, any thoughts on a impact score of 28 for a NIH brain initiative R01?

    • writedit said

      Please note that the discussion of individual queries takes place on the NIH Paylines & Resources or Discussion: NIH Scores … page. Brain Initiative awards are based on both score and programmatic interests, but your score should get their attention for consideration. Funding will depend on whether they already have similar projects in their portfolio and if you are filling a gap needed to tackle one of their priority areas. When you have your summary statement, you can check in with your PO for next steps (rebuttal, resubmission, sit tight).

  3. lbellumkonda said

    Hello Writedit, I have been focusing on clinical care for the past 10 years and have recently found my interest in research. I was wondering if you could comment my eligibility to get a K award if I collaborated with some of the senior scientist at my institute. I am an Associate professor and wonder if that would be an impediment to apply for K awards. Thank you in advance for your time.

    • writedit said

      The usual K mechanism for mid-career faculty is the K24, but this is for established scientists, to give them time and project support for mentoring others. I would suggest you contact your CTSA-funded center or institute. While their slots are reserved for internal candidates, if your department chair is supportive, they should be happy to enroll you in their clinical scientist training program (coursework) and link you with a great mentoring team. If you don’t have prior research experience, you are probably best starting as a co-investigator on a colleague’s project, but if your chair is supportive, a K award would protect time for you to do concentrated training and start your own independent project. I assume you would be interested in patient-focused clinical research (K23) versus a mix of bench and clinical research (K08), though neither have a restriction on how far out you are from your terminal training. After talking with your CTSA and mentors, then you would want to work with the appropriate K23 PO at your institute of choice for help developing the application (and to ensure your target IC will support your application – though I think they would be excited to help launch a new clinician scientist). I am very excited to hear of your decision to get more involved in research – we need more physician investigators!

      • lbellumkonda said

        Thank you so much. This is very helpful.

  4. Grace Liu said

    Dear writedit,

    Really love this forum! I have an R01 just scored at impact 26 and percentile 12%, and realized NIA’s interim pay line is 8% (not NEI and AD-related) ūüė¶ I would like to know if you have any insight into the potential final pay line for NIA in 2021. I knew NIA’s interim pay line was 9% and finally increased to 11% in 2020. Is it possible to go up to 12% in 2021? I will appreciate any response.


    • writedit said

      You’ll want to communicate with your PO about next steps after you have your summary statement, but I think you will be looking at an A1 submission in March, at least as insurance, since I doubt NIA will know its final paylines before then (FY21 budget will be delayed until after the inauguration and then takes 6-8 weeks to reach the ICs). I think paylines will stay about the same and a few could actually drop a point if there is an increased number of competitive applications due to the pandemic. Again, your PO will give the best guidance (once your summary statement is in hand), but you’ll probably want to plan for another submission (which is frustrating at the 12th percentile).

      • Grace said

        Thank you very much, writedit!! It is really frustrating. This is the worst scenario that I thought of before I received the score. I have contracted the PO and hope he can reply to me soon.

  5. AC said

    Thank you very much, Writedit, for maintaining this amazing resource for the community which has kept me company throughout my application process. Please see my timeline below (non-early stage investigator).

    A1 submission
    02/15/2021 Received NOA.
    02/04/2021 Award prepared: refer questions to Grants Management Specialist.
    11/10/2020 Pending administrative review. Refer any questions to Program Official or Grants Management Specialist.
    *No official status update, but received an e-mail stating AC concurs with SRG and plans to fund proposal. However, letter does not take place of official Notice of Grant Award.
    09/10/2020 Council review completed.
    06/15/2020 Scientific Review Group review completed: Council review pending. Refer any questions to Program Official.
    03/16/2020 Scientific Review Group review pending. Refer any questions to the Scientific Review Administrator.
    03/05/2020 Application entered into system

    A0 submission
    01/30/2020 Council review completed.
    10/16/2019 Scientific Review Group review completed: Council review pending. Refer any questions to Program Official.
    06/28/2019 Scientific Review Group review pending. Refer any questions to the Scientific Review Administrator.
    06/05/2019 Application entered into system

    • writedit said

      Congratulations and thank you for sharing your timeline! Best wishes for success with your research.

  6. CC said

    I have two colleagues, including one junior mentee who had their R01s withdrawn AFTER study section because they did not submit the R01 as a clinical trial. In at least one of these cases – the activity in question was an online experiment designed to measure the effect of the presence or absence of certain marketing stimuli (e.g., the word “Smooth”) on perceptions and intention to purchase a product. Our research group does a lot of research like this funded by NIH that was not classified as a clinical trial (AFTER NIH changed the clinical trial definitions in 2014). We thoroughly reviewed the NIH guidance for clinical trial and do think this is in error. Each colleague is going to raise the issue with their project officer. My question relates to the timing of the decision by NIH – withdrawing the application AFTER study section. We suspect a naive reviewer flagged it. But shouldnt the SRO have identified grants that were incorrrectly submitted as a clinical trial way before study section? For context, these 2 applications were reviewed in the same SEP. Which met more than 6 months after the R01 submission deadline. Any thoughts, insights are appreciated.

    • writedit said

      The PO who knows the application and the FOA involved needs to address your question. My guess is that the FOA was specific for not involving a clinical trial (even if a companion FOA did allow a clinical trial), and that the decision the research was in fact a clinical trial was made during the course of the review Рprobably identified by a reviewer or possibly even during the discussion, since you indicate this happened after review (reviewer would have brought it to the attention of SRO in advance of review meeting). The SRO does not review the entire application in detail for eligibility, so the timing is reasonable if the issue was not flagged in the automated checks, which is also not surprising (ie, your mentee did not submit it as a clinical trial so included none of that documentation, which would have been flagged). If these were RFA/PAR applications, or involved a NOSI, there could have been additional language in the FOA that distinguished what type of study design was eligible. Regardless, if there is any question about whether an application is appropriate for a FOA based on research design type, I always advise investigators to confirm with the PO in advance of submission. If the marketing example you give included a control group, then the work might have been perceived as examining the effect size of an intervention (the marketing stimuli). Just one conjecture based on limited information, so, again, the PO, who probably heard the discussion, is the appropriate person to ask Рespecially if your mentee had communicated with the PO in advance of applying. As an FYI, an application can be administratively withdrawn at any point in the application, review, and post-review process, including just prior to the NOA being prepared (I know of at least 2 cases in which a disqualifying issue was not uncovered until the administrative review Рmonths after peer review). This is why a NOA is not guaranteed until awarded.

    • SaG said

      POs and SROs do not usually have the time to read full application research plans. They usually read the Abstract and Specific Aims. If it isn’t obvious in those sections that an app contains a CT then it isn’t withdrawn. Reviewers do read apps in more detail and might find a CT buried as part of Aim 3. Or perhaps the PO was thinking of funding the app, read it in more depth and found the trial. The way you describe the trial sounds like a BESH study. Which is still classified as a CT. (

  7. tonywend said

    Dear Writedit,

    I have an A1 scored 18% last October with ESI but not funded due to very tight funding rate of the IC. I put a new app this June by addressing the very minor comments from A1 review. This new app was originally assigned to the same study section of A1 till late Sep it got assigned to SEP and Not Discuss for this new app. Obviously, based on the roster of SEP reviewers, they definitely lack the expertise to review. Any advice how I should proceed? Thank you very much.


    • tonywend said

      Dear Writedit,

      Sorry for the confusion of above posting, my application was R01. Thank you very much for your advice.

      Kind regards,


      • writedit said

        No apologies needed – I understood (and sorry for not responding sooner). I assume you or one of your co-investigators must have had a conflict on the study section, which resulted in it being assigned to the SEP. It’s always a good idea to ensure no one is in conflict with the entire SRG (eg, by serving as a regular or ad hoc member on the panel), since – unlike in years past – SEPs need to cover a wide range of applications and may not always be passionate about your science (that is the bigger problem – they probably are competent but less enthusiastic). That said, the SEP reviewers might have found new problems that the A0 reviewers did not discuss. It is not uncommon for an application that receives a good score to be ND upon resubmission to the same SRG (no SEP involved). You don’t mention what the summary statement said, and if you have not received this yet, then there is nothing to do yet – and probably nothing to do but submit again even after you receive your pink sheets.¬† You (almost certainly) do not want to appeal the review, because this means you lose a couple cycles while Council reviews your appeal.¬†There is a very high bar to demonstrate grounds for appeal – there need to be factual scientific errors in the summary statement that could reasonably be considered as score-driving (ie, no/few other issues raised aside from the factually incorrect scientific concerns raised). If reviewers simply missed a point you made, that is on you, since you are responsible for clearly communicating your science. You definitely want to talk with your PO before considering an appeal.¬†If Council agrees that you have grounds to appeal, then the exact same application (no updates or changes allowed) goes back to the study section for review again in the next cycle. If the review comes back ND or an unfundable score, you are back to square one with submitting again.¬†

      • tonywend said

        Dear Writedit,

        Thank you so much for your advice. I don’t think any of my co-Is or myself had any conflict with the study section assigned or requested. I would like to submit a new application later instead of submitting a revision. Any advice how to avoid/ague being assigned to an unwanted study section? Whom should I send the request if this happens, i.e., the assigned study section SRO, the targeted study section SRO, or someone else?



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