Discussion: NIH Scores-Paylines-Policy-Peer Review

I will continue to update the NIH Paylines and Resources page, which is where most discussion of application review, scores, paylines, etc. can be found, but I will keep this page available for those who have bookmarked it to discuss anything related to NIH impact/review criteria scores, paylines, peer review, policy changes, and so forth. Many comments and questions on these topics are scattered in posts throughout the blog, so perhaps this central page will serve to consolidate shared advice, insight, debates, etc.


  1. drugmonkey said

    Also, any member of the panel can review any proposal (save conflicts) assigned to that panel and write a critique if they so choose. In theory you could end up with 20 or more of them!

    Of course this never happens.

    But what I have seen occur is that someone not assigned to the application will get really involved in some point of discussion (pro or con, people, pro OR con). The system recognizes that the summary statement is supposed to reflect discussion. So sometimes the SRO or Chair or a panel member will say “Hey, will you 1) write that up as a critique; 2) write up a brief blurb for the SRO to include when prepping the resume or 3) write up a point for one of the other reviewers to include when they are editing their review”

    Or, occasionally, a reviewer will just be so ticked about where the assigned reviewers and panel votes went that s/he will just write up a dissenting view on his/her own hook.

    final scenario: the way I understand it* the official rules require that at least two people assigned to the application have to be in the room if it is to be discussed. So if for some reason 2 of the 3 are phone reviewers, the SRO may tap a 4th “discussant” reviewer to fulfill this requirement.

    *it is possible that this is only a strongly encouraged practice and/or a practice limited to selected study sections.

  2. writedit said

    Great – I’m glad you got a reassuring reply promptly. Showing that you are paying attention may work in your favor at some point, too. Good luck with the review!

  3. NewbiePI said

    What is the difference between an R01 vs a U01?

    • writedit said

      With the R01, you conduct the research on your own, with no involvement of the NIH extramural staff. With the U01, which is a cooperative agreement, there is programmatic involvement by NIH extramural staff; if the project is part of a consortium, there will be a Steering Committee and other shared governance of how the research is conducted. For a non-consortium U01 (which could be a multi-site clinical trial, but not with other U01 awardees), the NIH staff participate in trial design and oversight (regular confernce calls etc.). Sometimes an R01 clinical trial is converted to a U01 (large budget, complex trial, involvement of intramural researchers, etc.). There is no parent announcement for the U01, but many ICs require PIs to submit multisite clinical trials applications through a two-part process that involves an R34/U34 clinical trial planning gran) first, followed by a U01 application to conduct the trial itself. Otherwise, U01s are solicited through PARs and RFAs.

    • writedit said

      Also, you can read the cooperative agreement requirements for a specific funding announcement in Section VI. Award Administration Information. It occurs to me this question might have been prompted by the recently released FOAs for the BRAIN Initiative, 5 of which involve the U01 activity code.

      • SG said

        Depending on the IC it is also a way for the PO to act as (or pretend to be) a PI..; -)

  4. IntraNIA said

    Hi WritedIt:

    As some brief background, I’m an intramural NIA post-doc (Ph.D. June 2010). I do neuroimaging work in humans instead of basic research.

    My NIA first submission K99/R00 was reviewed today. My priority score is a 31. It’s very disappointing. Given FY2014 projections you recently posted for NIA (K’s at or below 20), I’m almost entirely certain the grant won’t get funded. I plan to do a resubmission during the next round, which I’m guessing will be the last round when I’m still eligible. Hopefully I can address concerns and not have a triaged A1.

    I do have two questions:

    1) Do you know if NIH is going to delay the next round of reviews, given that the October review period was delayed until December because of the Shutdown?

    2) Congress cobbled together a mediocre budget deal to ameliorate some sequestration cuts. Does any of that alleviate the projected FY2014 cut to NIH? I’m curious to know what the situation is when I resubmit.


    • writedit said

      Well, the interim paylines will go up, since yes, the recent budget agreement does remove the FY14 sequester. Appropriations are still being negotiated under the shadow of the looming debt ceiling deadline, so the outcome for the NIH remains uncertain, but it will be better than FY13, perhaps not quite back to FY12 funding levels. Not sure if that would cover your A0, but my guess is not. Your A1 application would be for FY15 funding, though, which won’t be known until this time next year (we should have some clues based on what happens for FY14). Unless there is another shutdown of the federal government in February (not likely unless GOP is feeling suicidal), the review meetings will be held as scheduled. Your PO can give you some insight into how the discussion went and what would be most important for these reviewers (in terms of making revisions).

    • NewPI said

      I went from a score of 34 to 13 in my NIA K99/R00 A1 application. Good luck, great first score to work from IMO.

      • IntraNIA said

        Thank you for the encouragement! My A1 NIA K99/R00 got a 16, I think mostly because Reviewer #3 was still somewhat curmudgeon-y.

        Post-Council, I’m now just waiting to see if the PO is willing to issue an NoA, given my unique situation. Both her and the Scientific Deputy Director seemed to be on board, but I need to send in a packet in “October or November” indicating how I will achieve my Specific Aims. I have a good case, I think, but I really don’t know how often something like this happens.

      • writedit said

        Congratulationsto you and NewPI. Since you submitted your A1 in 2014, it will be awarded underFY15, hopefully during the continuing resolution versus having to wait forthe final federal budget (which is not likely to be passed until next year). Iassume your PO asked for information about addressing your specific aims; I am not sure whether your score falls in the funding vs grayzone, but if the latter, that would explain why they asked for additional details. I am not sure what you mean by”something like this”. Scores dropping to funding level? Receiving anaward after addressing any program concerns? Both happen regularly, and this all sounds good for you, so just keep in touch with your PO and have everything ready to submit whenever they ask.

      • IntraNIA said

        No word yet from the PO or change in status from “Council Review Completed,” but I know it can take weeks or months to suss out the pay lists and paylines. NIA FY2014 payline for a K99/R00 was 20. Under continuing resolution funding, my guess is my 16 is good enough. I was mildly concerned to read in the NIH director’s recent blog post that grant scores were unusually good during the last review round.

        By “something like this,” I mean a PO issuing an NoA for a K99 where the PI/PD has switched institutions from the original institution proposed. (I originally got a TT position at the new institution, but after I got my A1 K score we collectively said ‘let’s have me stay a post-doc for another year so I can hopefully get the K, the R00 to help set up my lab and more data for an R01, and time to transition’). My situation is also odd because the larger phase 2 clinical trial, of which my K99 is a small part, will happen at NIA. My training plan revolves around designing, processing, and analyzing imaging and cognitive data, but it may be odd that someone else collects the data with my protocols.

        Regardless, through phone conversations I think I answered the PO’s concerns. I will see what happens when I send the formal documentation requested (e.g., new institution letter of support, new co-PI letter and biosketch, cover letter, etc.)

      • writedit said

        No worries about the status quo in status. The federal government activity will drive your timeline more than anything else now, plus it will take time to process all the documentation you apparently still need to send. Your PO wouldn’t be working so hard on this if she didn’t think you could/would get an award – especially since you were willing to forego the TT appointment to honor the K99 requirement. I think your analyzing data collected by someone else is fine – happens with a lot of the quantitative CDAs, and your experience developing the protocols as part of a team is a key skill, too.

  5. Sarah said

    I just wanted to encourage you to go ahead with your resubmission. My A0 K99 was triaged, but I managed to get my A1 funded, even in the middle of the budget sequester. It can be easy with the terrible budget situation to talk yourself out of putting in all of the time and effort to resubmit (I nearly did- I almost didn’t resubmit but was talked into it by a friend at the last minute). And anecdotally, it seems to be really helping my job search. Enough so that my advice to everyone is that its totally worth the effort.

    • writedit said

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Sarah, and giving hope to triaged K applicants. I think career development applications are most likely to be able to move from triaged to funded (just told someone here at BICO this, so thanks for backing me up), and I realize I didn’t make clear in my initial reply to IntraNIA the importance of submitting the A1, so thanks for that encouragement, too.

      • IntraNIA said

        I appreciate that WritedIt, thank you. Your initial advice helped me to stop worrying. Many thanks to Sarah and New PI also for their encouragement to submit an A1.

        Barring the (apparently/hopefully) rare circumstance where the A1 is triaged or gets a worse score than the A0, I’m pretty sure my revision will score better and give me a decent chance.

        I have a follow-up question re: TT job apps. Would you recommend I list my K99 and A0 priority score on my CV, or leave out the K99 altogether? On the one hand, it’s an encouraging if likely not fundable score. On the other hand, I’m not sure how search committees now perceive K99 applicants, now that one is required to be on the K99 part for at least 12 months.

      • writedit said

        Regarding the job applications, the idea of listing your score would be to show that you are proactive in submitting grant applications and capable of proposing science of interest to review committees. Whoever might consider hiring you would understand that you would not come with an award unless the appointment were postponed until after the K99 portion was completed, which could then be a negotiating point if you wanted both the K99 and the appointment, and the institution could wait on hiring.

  6. New PI said

    I encourage you to put in A1 as well. Get get input from PO and trusted experts on addressing weaknesses. My A0 IF score was 34 and my A1 was 13 – funded, and well worth it! Good luck!!!

    • writedit said

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience & encouragement and congratulations on the award!

    • IntraNIA said

      Many thanks, and congratulations! I hope my K99 trajectory follows a similar path.

  7. Carica said

    My first R01 (I am an ESI) was recently (last week) scored 23rd percentile (sadly!). My grant was assigned to NIDDK (primary) and NHLBI (secondary). 2013 paylines for ESI were ~ 16 and 21 for NIDDK and NHLBI, respectively. Is there any chance that I can convince anybody (PO) to switch my grant to NHLBI as the primary IC?

    • writedit said

      It is rare for a secondary IC to pick up an application, but if you had an established relationship with the PO at NHLBI, it could be possible. If you had no contact with anyone at NHLBI, you should still email the PO there, in case your area is of programmatic interest. In communicating with the PO, you can also ask if you should request primary assignment to NHLBI for the A1, which I assume you will submit in March or July. Be sure to check in with your NIDDK PO also as to your status there, since they do pick up some select pay applications above the payline (which should be higher for FY14 – though almost certainly not the 23rd percentile).

  8. K01 guy said

    Disclaimer: I apologize in advance if this question is outside the scope of this website, however I thought it would be worth asking since your advice has been very insightful in previous exchanges.

    I am in the second year of a K01 and am becoming confidently clear on the fact that continuing a career in academia is not the best fit for me. While I’m interested in the work that I am doing and am making forward progress, I don’t see a long term future for me as an academic PI. Concurrently, I have been sought out by a local biotechnology company that I would be very interested in working with and would be a great way to transition out of my academic position. The catch is that the timeline is short and I would need to take the industry position in the next 3-6 months.

    Core question: given how early in my K01 I am, what are my options in terms of ending my award? Is there any way to pass a K01 onto someone who can continue the aims of the grant? Are there other options?

    A key concern of mine is not burning bridges with my supervisors and the university by dropping the grant and making them look bad in the eyes of the NIH.

    Any advice on how to handle the grant components of this situation would be greatly appreciated.


    • writedit said

      You can end your K01 at any point without repercussion to you or your mentor. There is no pay-back agreement, as with NRSA awards, and the funds are intended to advance your career development (the research project is a vehicle to do so vs the focus of the award), and your decision to move to industry is just part of this career development process. You cannot pass on your K01 to someone else – the award will simply be terminated. You can talk with your PO about whether the K01 can be transferred to the biotech company, but it depends on what you will be doing in the industry position (i.e., whether you can continue your project with sufficient protected time and receive mentoring).

  9. Nammi said

    I received a score of 26 on an A1 R21 proposal to NIDDK. I followed up with the PO today and this was the response, ” Sorry. Your grant has been reviewed by the team and out forward for possible funding but there has been no final word. Council meets February 5 but even then the decision may not be final as if your grant remains on the list for possible funding, we still have to balance funding against our limited pool of funds for R21s. Also, there a large number of very meritorious R21s this round. I hope to be able to give you a more definitive answer by mid February but until then there is not much I can say beyond what is in this email.” Is there anything I can learn from this response besides the fact that I just have to wait? I did submit a 1-page response to reviewers who were enthusiastic about the proposal and there were just a few minor concerns.

    • writedit said

      You just have to wait. No one will have definitive answers until Congress passes an appropriations bill (omnibus federal budget bill). Right now, the NIH can only guess at how much $ it will receive based on the framework bill passed last month. Last minute wrangling related to the debt ceiling could still come with cuts, so watch what happens between now and Jan 15 (and between then and Feb 15, if Congress only passes another CR). Your PO is great – he/she is advocating for your application and is being very transparent and realistic about the situation. If there is any chance of getting your R21 funded, he/she will make it happen.

      • NK said

        I got an email yesterday informing me that my R21 would not be funded by NIDDK (Score was 26). SInce it was an A1 I won’t be able to reapply through this. SO disappointed. Maybe I can package as a small R01.

      • writedit said

        You probably want to ask your PO what about the R21 kept it from consideration at the program level, or if they have a priority/gap in their portfolio that your work could be tweaked to address. You’ll want to be sure to send them something they want/need to fund. NIDDK doesn’t participate in the parent R03, but if they have an appropriate PA for this activity code, you could also consider that route to secure some needed preliminary data or develop your model. If you have enough preliminary data, a small R01 could be viable, if your PO is interested in seeing the project reworked for that.

  10. writedit said

    From summary of the FY14 federal spending bill: National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The bill includes $29.9 billion for the NIH, $1 billion above the fiscal year 2013 level. This funding will continue support for basic biomedical research and translational research through the programs like the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) and Institutional Development Award (IDeA) to support scientists as they conduct research to discover cures. Further, it provides full support for the NIH Office of Science Education and programs like the Science Education and Partnership Awards (SEPA) to support biomedical research for the future.

  11. Dave said

    @Writedit: On the paylines and resources page, why can I only see up to October 24th, 2013 now? Have you changed the address or is discussion continuing here for now?

    • writedit said

      I am not sure why WordPress sometimes pushes some earlier comments to the bottom of the page. I need to archive comments from earlier in the year to help this page load faster, so I’ll move those botttom stragglers (mostly from Feb-March 2013) to an archive page. The two most recent posts on the main page didn’t show up as I had expected either (drafts vs final versions), so I’ll need to be more vigilent and appreciate the heads-up. Thanks.

  12. Dave said

    Ah that’s better. Cheers.

  13. Dave said

    The problem has returned Writedit, at least for me……

    • writedit said

      Thanks again for the heads up – I am not sure what is up with WordPress, that older comments keep getting pushed to the bottom (below the newest comments) as I move them to an archive page. Please feel free to keep letting me know, and I’ll try to check back myself. {also, @ Dave, I’ll remove these last few messages about the NIH Paylines page problem in a day or two, so they aren’t cluttering up this Discussion page, but I really appreciate your chiming in & helping me keep on top of this}

  14. Cautiously Optimistic said

    I had a question with regards to R15 vs R01 funding. I’ve recently been awarded an R15, but I have another completely different project that I suspect is competitive for an R01. Given the limitations of R15 funding, is it possible to even apply for an R01? If I was awarded an R01, could I possibly give back the R15 funds?

    • writedit said

      Your AREA award is good for 3 years, so you can certainly apply for R01 funding in the meantime. If you receive an R01 award prior to the conclusion of the R15 award (not necessarily a given), I believe you would receive the remaining R15 funds but could not submit a renewal application. You would communicate with the PO about all this upon receiving a potentially fundable score for an R01 application (PO will know about both). You should not let the receipt of the R15 award keep you from applying for the R01 though.

  15. VTA said

    Hello, I am a NI/ESI with prior K99/R00 funding (R00 ends mid-2014). R01 A0 submitted October 2012 and received 46 (44th %). Revised the app and submitted the A1 in July 2013 and received 27 (19th %). PO at NIDA was an advocate for my K99 funding years ago and is the same now – saying he/she will help as much as possible, including stress that my K99 is ending. PO asked me to submit response to the few minor issues in the summary statement, which was attached to the PO’s recommendation and sent forward to branch chief, division chief, etc. for consideration. Based on this and writedit’s data showing that about 1/3 of 19th % grants were funded in FY 2012 (and presumably many of those that were funded were NI/ESI’s), I felt reasonably optimistic. Also, I asked PO if I should think about revising or “hold on”. Response was to hold on. Unfortunately PO recently says they can’t reach my app for Feb 5th NIDA council but it remains a possibility for later (May) council or end of FY funding in summer. There is no secondary IC.

    1. The process whereby an app is sent up the hierarchy at NIDA is mysterious to me. Seems that anywhere along the way (branch chief, division chief), the app could be dropped from further consideration. PO won’t comment on this part of the process. Any info on how these discussions progress at NIDA? Do I even know whether the Division chief or Director even saw my app?

    2. How realistic is funding at later council or end-of FY funding? Is this how gray-zone scores like mine are more commonly funded, if they are? I imagine they have both October 2013 and February 2014 council to fund now that dollars are real and approved in the recent spending bill, so perhaps they have a bunch of highly meritorious grants to fund and are deferring the beyond-the-payline grants until later? Just wondering how much hope to pin on funding later in the year. Obviously I am working on a new app regardless.


    • writedit said

      You should be working on a new application, but your R01 A1 could definitely be picked up at May Council. You should assume that the Branch and Division chiefs have seen your app, SS, and response – you have a great PO. The need to wait with such a gray zone score is that they still have one round of reviews left (just starting now). I would guess that your PO will have a better idea where your 19th percentile stands in ~April, after all the spring reviews are done, and NIDA knows the number and range of scored applications that could be considered for funding. I suspect right now, you are looking good – but if Cycle III comes in with lots of lower-scored applications, then they’ll need to put yours on the back burner and perhaps not have the $ to consider it. If your PO is a little less positive after the May Council applications are reviewed, you might ask about the possibility of short-term (R56) funding to keep you collecting data for a new R01 for one more year. This is something only your PO can do, and I’m not sure how often this mechanism is used in this manner at NIDA. Sometimes the IC can cut a deal for a shorter/smaller R01 award, too. But, the fact that you need to wait for May for all this is typical, given your score, and your PO’s enthusiasm is a good sign. Still, you should be thinking about a new R01 – always, not just because this app might not be funded.

  16. Pick said

    Your website is super helpful, thank you. I’m waiting to hear about a K99/R00 submitted in June 2013. I scored in the grey zone, and my status now reads Council review completed (good news?). Does my Just In Time information need to list other support for Me, the two co-mentors and all 4 consultants that are listed in the application? My institution says they only need to include this information for me since I’m the only one with salary in my budget, but I want to make sure my JIT is done properly in case I’m still in the running for the award. Thanks

    • writedit said

      Yes, they only need your Other Support page updated. You would need to document human subjects research protection training for anyone on an IRB protocol who is also listed as contributing effort, but I think this would be unusual for a K99 (ie, doing human subjects research requiring IRB approval).

  17. Daniele said

    My funding timeline for anyone that can find it helpful

    K99/R00 funding through NCI:
    applied Feb. 2013
    score and comments June 2013
    Council Review September 2013
    JIT requested Dec 2013
    Award Letter Jan 2013
    Start Date Feb 1 2014

    A question that I really need help with (sorry not entirely related to string)

    I was on a Komen fellowship and during JIT submission for the K99 I asked my PI, financial specialist, and office of grants management at my institute if we could preserve Komen funds if my K99 was awarded. Everyone said that we needed to relinquish these funds so that is what I proposed on my JIT.

    After my award letter was received, my PI had his financial advisor contact Komen and long story short they said that we could re-budget Komen salary funds to supplies if I modify my K99 from 100 to 75 LOE and carry 25 LOE on the Komen. Now my PI would like my to go back to NCI to ask for this. I am upset this should have been done at the time JIT was requested … Is this even possible to ask for at this late date? .. I don’t want to jeopardize my K99 or my relationship with the PO over this? What is the appropriate thing to do?

    sorry for the long post and thank you.

    • writedit said

      You will not jeopardize your K99 by talking with the PO or GMS about the Komen award and reallocating the budget. Multiple NOAs (notices of award) can be issued for the same application in the same year to adjust for changes in budget (both on the NIH side and the awardee side), and your PO will recognize that having both awards is a good thing for your career development and research. It sounds like your PI and grants administrator didn’t realize Komen would be willing to adjust their budget until after the fact. You will need to write a justification for reducing your effort to 75% (how the effort will be split and that the K99 aims can be achieved at 75% effort), but your PO can explain what is needed. Again, you don’t have to worry about losing your K99 as a result of asking. Worst case, they’ll say you can’t modify your K99 award, but I do not think this will be the case.

      Separately, I assume given your rapid award that you had an exceptional score, but I am sure there are those following the blog who would be interested to know what your score was, so they can calibrate their odds of funding.

  18. Daniele said

    Thank you so much for the advice. This site has been and continues to be a wealth of knowledge for me. I will get in touch with my PO and ask.

    I didn’t realize that the timing for K99 was rapid (it felt like forever). I had a score of an 11.

    thanks again.

  19. anyhope said

    I wrote late last year regarding a K01 resubmission application that received a score in the grey zone (review date was in Dec.) I’ve been in contact with my PO who has been extremely supportive during the process. After talking by phone post receiving the score and my PO anticipated having an internal meeting to review all grants from the cycle this have been our trend:
    Jan. 14 – My PO wrote to let me know that an internal meeting went well and there are no concerns about my K. The issue was what IC’s payline was going to be for the year. My PO also suggested that I work on a response to the summary statement and send for review.
    Jan. 22 – Submitted response to summary statement
    Jan. 27 – PO responded that the response looks good.

    I don’t want to be a nuisance to my PO, but when is an appropriate time frame to follow-up on potential funding? Or should I simply wait for my PO to email and let me know the final results?

    • writedit said

      Your PO probably needs to wait at least until Council meets. Council does not select applications to be paid, but they need to concur with IC funding plans, and at that point, your IC might be willing to set an interim payline for the Ks. If you don’t hear back a few days after Council meets, it could be that your PO also needs to wait until the next round of applications are reviewed and scored, so the IC knows the number of K01 applications scoring at each level. They pretty much set the payline based on how far the money will go, and they won’t know how far it needs to go until after the final review cycle (you can check the IC career development study section meeting date to know when that will be). My advice would be to check in with your PO again about a week after Council meets (if you have not heard anything yet) and ask whether an interim payline has been set or whether you will need to wait until the final round of K01 reviews have been completed.

  20. HS said

    I am working on my K23 application biosketch. I have well under the limit of 15 publications to list and am wondering if I should include 1) a published abstract and 2) two, peer-reviewed and published educational products (one CME course and one educational tool).

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • writedit said

      Yes, for early stage researchers, you can include items other than peer-reviewed original research reports, and your suggestions are fine (reviews, patents, software, etc. as well). You want to feature your contributions to the scientific community, particularly those directly relevant to the research (and in your case, training) being proposed.

      • HS said

        Many thanks!

  21. YJ said

    I just got a score of 25 and 14 percentile for my first A0-R01 applications to NIGMS. I am an ESI/NI, so I just wonder if anyone has a sense of likelihood of funding. It looks very difficult to predict for NIGMS since there is no payline and solid guideline for ESI/NI awards. Thanks!

    • writedit said

      If you look at the past funding trends, you will see that NIGMS does fund most 14th percentile awards, and ESI/NI would be most likely to be in the funded group. Now that the NIGMS appropriation is known, your PO should be able to give you some idea as to your funding likelihood and whether you should start working on the A1, but I would think you are likely to receive an award with that score.

      • YJ said

        Thanks! I will contact PO.

  22. BMcC said

    I am up for a R01 noncompetitve renewal and a pending supplement with NICHD which should have started on 2/1/2014 but I have not received my award notice yet. I have tried to contact my grants management contact a couple of times but they have not responded with concrete information. Does anyone know whether this is normal protocol for noncompetitive awards?

    • writedit said

      Because the ICs just got their appropriation, grants management staff are catching up on backlogged awards, including noncompeting renewals. I am not entirely clear on whether the noncompeting renewal or supplement should have started on Feb 1, but I assume the renewal (usually, but not always, supplements coincide with the parent award start date). You also don’t mention if this is an administrative or competitive supplement, so I am not sure if the decision to fund is pending or the issuance of the supplemental award. In general, though, you don’t need to worry about the delay in award. They would have told you if you needed to submit something (I assume your progress report was fine), so you should just be patient. You can also ask your PO, especially if there is any question about the supplement being awarded, but I am sure he/she will just say NICHD is behind on all awards still but working to get yours out.

  23. BrianM said

    Hi Writedit. After having almost given up hope, my Phase II SBIR status changed to pending on 02/04. First submission was 12/2012, scored as 38 but many positive comments from PO and reviewers. Second submission was 04/2013, scored 30. JIT request and discussion with PO prior to Council 9/2013. Nothing else until the status change. What’s funny is that my business partner and colleague just got his grant scored and it will also be funded. Feast or famine, it seems.

    • writedit said

      Congratulations and thank you so very much for sharing all your details here – especially giving hope to those who have almost given up. Best wishes for success with the project.

      • BrianM said

        How long does it usually take to go from “Pending” to a NoA? I checked to make sure my assurances are current, but I am not sure if there is anything else should be doing to make sure there are no snags.

      • writedit said

        Not to worry. It is not instantaneous, and with the backlog of awards to process, it could take a week or two. If the GMS needs anything from you, he/she will contact you. Otherwise, sit tight – and congratulations on the award.

  24. GM dude said

    NIGMS won’t be sending out NOAs for most Jan Council R01 grants that they want to fund for at least another month or two.

    • JTS said

      is this because they’re still sorting through the meritorious awards from september?

      • GM Dude said

        It takes a week or two (assuming no snow days) after Council meets to get all of the paperwork together and schedule a meeting to discuss all of the grants they want to fund. Then it takes a week or two for final adjusted budgets to get entered into a big spreadsheet. Then it takes a week or two for the spreadsheet to be double checked by the money folks and approved. Then you can expect a call from your PO, “Good News Everyone!” Then it takes several weeks to actually get the money sent to your institution.

        Things can go fast or slower depending on whether NIH actually has a real budget, how complicated the grant budget is, how much other stuff the POs and grants folks have to deal with etc….Not to mention how quickly PIs respond to Emails asking for more information. You might be surprised how lackadaisical (or maybe just disorganized) some PIs can be.

  25. BrianM said

    I was in the September NIGMS Council, my status went to ‘pending’ on the 4th.

    • JTS said

      we’re also a holdover from sept council (R01 mech., score=22, 7%), but team members already funded by NIH — i think we have to wait a while as NIGMS works through their priorities, as outlined in november

    • writedit said

      I meant to change my reply to a few weeks, and GM dude has clarified it could even be a couple of months. Yes, all the ICs are still sorting through fall and winter Council meeting pay lists and guestimating how much they need to save for the spring Council applications. Don’t that forget the federal government in DC has been shut down by weather sporadically this winter, too.

      • JTS said

        perhaps cupid might aim an arrow or two at NIGMS

        we all need a little love

        happy valentine’s day

  26. curious said

    Strange phenomenon–my RO1 was assigned to a study section that met 2/13 (last Thurs.). I checked the commons today and in the list of applications it indicated a ‘last status update’ of 2/14. When I pulled up the grant information, though, no score or any indication was listed (not ‘not discussed’ or anything). It looked like the page had not changed at all, despite ‘status update’ of yesterday. Has this happened to anyone before?

    • writedit said

      Nothing unusual. If the weather did not prevent your study section from meeting, just watch for a score on Mon or Tues.

  27. Frustrated said

    My PO has not responded to multiple (polite!) emails over 3 months asking for a phone call to discuss a resubmission. I have identified another PO in the same institute that might be interested in my work. Do you see any potential issues in naming this new PO in my resubmission cover letter?

    • writedit said

      Not at all, if you have made contact with this alternative PO and he/she is willing to accept your application. However, you don’t request a PO in your cover letter (just the IC and SRG), though you can mention this PO by name, so the SRO can make contact as needed/appropriate and to get your connection out there when the referral is made.

      • Frustrated said

        Thanks for the advice. By the way I bought the book and found it very helpful!

      • writedit said

        Great – thanks so much!

  28. YJ said

    Does anyone know the payline of NHLBI-R21 after the appropriation? My A0 application got 12 percentile, but the resubmission resulted a worse percentile (19%). I will contact PO after releasing summary statements, but I just want to know if anyone heard about payline changes after the appropriation.

    • writedit said

      Paylines will not be final until after this current round of reviews has been completed (ICs need to know the score spread for the full year to see how far their $ will go). However, your A0 application can still be considered for funding, and hopefully the payline will go up a notch or more from FY13.

  29. cautiously optimistic said

    I just got a score on an RO1 resubmission to NHLBI. The initial submission was as ESI, and my ESI status has since lapsed, but their website says they honor the ESI for any resubmission as long as you are still a New Investigator (unlike NIH overall, which gives you 13 months from the first submission). The current standard payline is 10th %ile, and that plus 5 for ESI, ie 15th %ile. My grant scored 12th %ile. My PO said it is ‘likely’ to get funded, and she considers it to be an ESI proposal, but will go through two more people for final approval for ESI status (where they check that i don’t have other NIH funding, which I don’t). So she said that POs can’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and the best thing she can say as a PO is ‘likely’. She also discussed getting my ducks in a row for JIT requests, especially IACUC approval. And that this will be put forward at the June 11th council meeting for earliest possible funding by July this year. This all sounds fantastic, and I have been working toward this for at least three years now submitting this proposal in various forms every other cycle. Is there any plausible way this can go wrong?? All indicators point to it being funded but of course i’m still nervous.

    • writedit said

      Just like your PO, I will say this indicates you should get an award, but no one promises anything until the NoA/NGA is issued. Her comment about the IACUC is apt: you want to be in a position where they can immediately issue the award, which means having IACUC approval before Council. This is especially important late in the FY, because the timing becomes important; if an IC cannot resolve an administrative issue quickly, it may move on to tap other applications for awards that it knows can be made (ie, all approvals secured & all JIT issues in order) before the FY runs out in September. So, yes, you can be cautiously optimistic – and focus on getting your IACUC approval and any other JIT info/certifications etc. ready by June if not before.

      • cautiously optimistic said

        Thanks for the advice!

  30. NewbiePI said

    Anyone get a score on R21 from NIA in CDIN study section? Review was yesterday and today – hoping the grant wasn’t triaged.

    • writedit said

      Patience – you’ll need to wait a day or two for your score to be entered. Maybe longer, depending on the number of applications. Everyone finds out at the same time. Good luck.

  31. NewbiePI said

    Thanks, what will it say under score if triaged?

    • writedit said

      Not Discussed (instead of an impact score) – also as current application status (will replace Pending IRG review)

  32. IntraNIA said

    If I recall correctly, it will say Not Discussed or ND, next to the “Priority Score” row on the left-middle side of the page. When my A0 K99 section met, the score was posted a day later. My PO indicates that it can vary depending on workload, weather, etc.

    Good luck!

  33. NewbiePI said

    Thanks, I got my score on A0 R21 at NIA.
    IF of 30, 19%.

    • writedit said

      Congratulations on getting scored – that is likely out of funding contention unless your PO thinks it is worthy of select pay, but you should have some good comments on the summary statement (which will likely take a few weeks to show up) to submit a strong A1.

      • NewbiePI said

        Thanks very much! Your input is, as always, is very much appreciated!

  34. tc said

    Can the NIH funding for a particular grant be partially used to support irrelevant research? What is the policy here?

    • writedit said

      Well, I would certainly hope no federal research dollars are spent on irrelevant research. If you mean work not directly related to the proposed aims, the answer is generally yes (you received a grant rather than a contract), but there is a governing policy in considering the degree and nature of any change in scope for the overall project itself: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch8.htm#_Toc271264934

      “In general, the PD/PI may make changes in the methodology, approach, or other aspects of the project objectives. However, the grantee must obtain prior approval from the NIH awarding IC for a change in scope. A change in scope is a change in the direction, aims, objectives, purposes, or type of research training, identified in the approved project. The grantee must make the initial determination of the significance of a change and should consult with the GMO as necessary.” (see policy guide for details in making this determination)

  35. nk said

    I reached out to my PO after getting an email from her saying my R21 was not chosen for funding at NIDDK Council because other R21s scored higher. I then asked if NIDDK has any funds left at any point, could the R21 be considered for funding? Her reply, “At the end of the year, if there is money left over we sometimes look at prior Council rounds and fund a grant or two. That said, money is so tight these days that having funds left over is not the norm.” At what point in the year, if any, would you follow-up on this? What would be the best way to follow-up?

    • writedit said

      I assume this is an A1 – if not, you should definitely be working on the A1. Otherwise, they will have a better idea after the current round of reviews (since then they’ll know how many better-scored applications are ahead of yours), but the select pay decisions will probably not be made until June or so. However, it would be more encouraging if she gave some indication that she intended to advocate for your application, as they will fund some out of order on a case-by-case basis. She seems to suggest yours would be funded only if they got down to your application on the paylist (sequentially). I assume, if this was an A1, you have been working on other applications in the meantime. If not, this would be a good time to start (for June).

      • NK said

        Yes, this was an A1. I do have other grants in the pipeline. Yes, she did say that, “The main issue was score relative to the other grants that came in. Our pool of funds for R21 is not large and there were many grants competing for funds. Although your score was good there was also a fairly long list of grants with even better scores.” My score was a 26. Would you reach out again in June or just let this go? Thanks for all your adice.

      • writedit said

        You will definitely find out from her if you are being considered for an award (so don’t worry about losing a potential award because you didn’t stay in touch), but you probably won’t hear from her again if your application never makes it to the top of the list. If you need to know the final outcome, you could check again later in June. And if she will be your PO for any other applications, you could ask again later in the context of seeking other advice (oh, BTW …).

  36. Patrick said

    I submitted two different proposals to NIH recently and they were assigned to the same study section. What should I do?

    • writedit said

      If you requested different SRGs in your cover letters, you can communicate with the SRO of the study section you requested to see if he/she can take your application – the SROs do communicate about this, so you can find out why your application wen to one SRG versus another. If you did not make a request in your cover letter but you know of an SRG that might be better for one of the applications, you can contact that SRO to see if he/she would be willing to take the application. Your rationale for any of these requests cannot simply be that you do not want 2 applications at the same study section. You will need to provide evidence (based on publications, grant awards) that the reviewers on the panel to which you want your application moved are the most appropriate to review your science. If there is only one SRG appropriate for these applications and/or the SROs cannot accommodate transferring one of your applications to a different group, then you need to decide whether to have both reviewed this cycle or to with draw one and submit it next cycle (you do not lose a submission – you can submit next cycle as A0 or A1, depending on the status of the application when it was submitted this time).

      • Patrick said

        Thank you!. Will this situation (having two proposals in the same study section) eliminate my chance to win the funding? What is the major disadvantage?

      • writedit said

        Reviewers will be instructed to assess the scientific merit of each proposal individually (against itself/scientific ideal versus against other applications). If both of your applications have high scientific merit, they should both be scored well, though one will by necessity be ranked higher than the other. The question then is whether they are both assigned to the same IC for funding consideration. If so, unless the proposals address completely different research questions of equal interest/priority to the funding IC, one of your applications would probably be skipped (though I am sure it is not unheard of for one IC to fund two proposals to the same PI in the same Council round). In theory, if the science is distinct and exceptional, it shouldn’t matter – but this is a time of limited resources.

  37. tc said

    I wrote an RO1 in response to an RFA. The grant was reviewed by SEP but did not get funded. I plan to submit it to a regular study section. Would this be A0 or A1?

  38. CA Sun said

    I received a score of 17 for a K99/R00 app submitted to the NICHD, the payline last year was 18, eventually escalated to 19. How confident can I be since there have been no funding cuts for 2014..?

    • Sarah said

      If it helps, my K99, which scored 20, was ultimately funded by NICHD last year. My sense is you should be in good shape.

      • writedit said

        Thanks for sharing your experience, Sarah. Congratulations on the award and best wishes for success with your project and career in academic research!

      • CA Sun said

        Thank you for sharing that with me

    • writedit said

      I agree with Sarah that you should be fine. You can check in with your PO when you have your summary statement, but I suspect he/she will be cautiously (if not outright) optimistic.

      • CA Sun said

        Thank you, I have contacted and the word optimistic was used..fingers crossed! Thank you for the prompt response

  39. Airmonkey84 said

    I’ve posted a few times here before about my F32 to NIAMS. Appears that the payline actually was moved down significantly, from priority score of 24 (in 2013) to a priority score of 20 in 2014 per the most recent update (http://www.niams.nih.gov/about_Us/Budget/funding_plan_fy2014.asp). Any idea if these published paylines ever shift, or if these are likely the final paylines? In that case I should probably gear up for a resubmission. Thx!

    • writedit said

      Wow. Boy was I wrong (in assuming the payline would go up). This late, the payline is probably pretty close to final, since most study sections have met, and NIAMS has an idea of how many applications are scored at each percentile/impact score. They also know how much $ they have – and NIAMS only received a $1M increase over FY13 (which explains the lack of payline improvement). With the drop in payline, they probably have quite a number of very low-scoring F32 applications that they have no additional funds to cover. You should talk with your PO, but I am sure he/she will tell you to prepare an A1 for April. Hopefully you have been able to strengthen the training plan in the interim, and you can run this by the PO for advice, too. Thanks for the heads up on the updated NIAMS funding plan.

  40. tc said

    My grant received a fundable score. but I may need to relocate out of this country for a few years. Is this possible to defer the funding start date for a few years?

    • writedit said

      I do not think so, but you can check with your PO. You are approved for funding in a specific FY, and these funds cannot be carried over by the IC – they must all be spent by the end of the FY. For applications straddling FYs, maybe (but even then there would need to be high programmatic interest). Also, with such a long delay, I expect the concern would be that the field would have moved on since your original proposal, in which case the proposed project might no longer be significant in terms of its impact.

  41. Stellar said

    Still no comments on a scored R01 NCI study section met 2/20/14. I have a score, but no comments. Is there a requirement about when POs need to get these up or is it “working as hard as we can, we’ll get to it when we can” kind of thing?

    • writedit said

      tcgal is correct – the goal is to get them out in a month, but they can take up to 6 weeks. The priority is to get new/ESI summary statements out first, then the established PIs. I am not sure if there is a defined protocol for the order within these groups, so each SRO could have his or her own algorithm. The government was shut down yesterday – and probably another day since your study section met – due to weather, so there’s that, too. If you don’t have your SS by the end of March, you can check in with the SRO.

  42. tcgal said

    the go to response from CSR is “within 6 weeks” you will get your summary statement.. and its the SRO not the PO that writes these up. I also think that the work in order of best to worst score… seems you are still in the 6 week window-

  43. on_deadline said

    Mundane question, but I need help. As a grant specialist (contractor), I am assisting with an STTR submission. Aspects of application do not fit NIH guidelines: 1) biosketches have more than 15 publications & reference section does not include all authors nor have PMCID. I’m a stickler for details, but also paid by the hour. Should I fix these deviations to improve application’s chances?

    • writedit said

      The 15-publication limit is a suggestion, not a requirement, though I strongly urge PIs to abide by it. If they have just a few extra publications, especially if they are relevant, fine. But if they have pages of publications, they (not you) should pick the 15 most relevant citations. The literature cited does not need to include all PMCID – and if you mean the references on the biosketch, only those articles that are required to be deposited in PMC need to have PMCIDs. I assume only the PI would know which publications need to have PMCIDs (based on article date & type & whether the work was funded in whole or part by the NIH) – though I guess you could just check PubMed and add the ID for those that have one. Will any of this affect review? Not really. The PMCIDs are an administrative requirement, and the number of references may or may not piss off reviewers, depending on how far overboard they go, but it certainly won’t sink an application by itself.

  44. Vidya C said

    This is my first time on this site. My K23 received a score of 29 and was being reviewed by NIGMS. Since this was within their budget, the PO suggested transferring to NICHD. The revision was recently reviewed and got an impact score of 15. How are my chances of getting funded? NICHD seems to still not have any published paylines for FY2014. Was wondering when they are usually published.. Thanks.

    • writedit said

      I am not sure I understand what happened with NIGMS. Your research wasn’t in their area, or the score of 29 wasn’t fundable (which it probably wasn’t – but it wouldn’t have been at NICHD, either, so I’m puzzled by the suggestion to switch ICs). And did you request that your primary IC be switched from NIGMS to NICHD for the A1? The 15 should be a fundable score – especially at NIGMS but probably at NICHD as well. Your PO at NICHD should be able to give you an idea of your chances there, since all the applications are now in and scored.

      • Vidya C said

        Dear Writedit, I received request for JIT 10 days ago, and council meeting is tomorrow to review my A1 application for K23 (score of 15). Would you know how long NICHD generally takes after Council meeting to update regarding decision to fund or not? When do you think it is appropriate for me to contact the PO if I don’t see an update? I am guessing the place to look is on Commons. Thanks.

      • writedit said

        Aha – so, NICHD did pick up your application, which is great. Congratulations! Based on your score and the JIT request, I think the decision has already been made. You can either ask your PO for confirmation that you will receive an award, or you can wait for your eRA Commons status to change to Pending or Pending administrative review or something like this. The status change would not be for several days – maybe a couple of weeks, depending on how busy they are. I think a short email to the PO asking about the timeframe for the Notice of Award would be fine.

  45. Vidya C said

    Thanks for your response. The PO at NICHD said they will need to wait for new paylines for this year.

    • Vidya C said

      Dear Writeedit,This was the response I received from my PO – “The NICHD current payline for K is P.S. of 19. Your application has received a fundable score however it has to go through our May council for secondary review before considering for funding” Would you know how often does the council decide against funding when you have a fundable score? I am worried that she was not more positive in her reply. Thanks.

      • writedit said

        Not to worry at all … Council occasionally does not recommend research applications for funding, but this is rare and mainly in the case of very well-funded PIs (NIH-wide policy plus ICs often have their own) or applications with significant administrative issues. K applications are reviewed and scored within the IC, so these are already judged to be advancing the IC mission through their score. I would expect the only reasons a K application scoring within the payline might not be funded would be due to significant changes on the part of the applicant (career or personal status change, moving to institution that cannot support the research proposed, etc.). Your PO is just using standard NIH language to say you need to wait until June for an award.

      • Vidya C said

        Thanks for the encouraging reply. My K application was reviewed by an SRG in NIGMS and was then transferred to NICHD Would this make a difference to the Council at NICHD?

      • writedit said

        Not at all – NICHD clearly wanted the application and would not have taken it if they did not intend to fund it. Council will trust program on this, and I assume it makes sense in terms of the science (to be in NICHD).

      • Vidya C said

        Thanks again This is a great forum and you are really prompt with your responses!

  46. PCharles said

    I received a score of 23 on a first (and only) K99 submission. I say only because I’m one of the unlucky applicants who fall into the category of meeting the old criteria (can submit if PhD was completed no more than 5 yrs prior) but not the new criteria (4 yrs prior) and so have only one chance. As everyone knows, there’s no payline yet out but other writers on this site have suggested an interim of 20 until the final payouts are made and NICHD sees if there are any funds left for higher scores. My PO said she’d like to wait until they have the official paylines to talk. 1) Are there any special circumstances (like the one time applicant?) they might take into consideration? 2) Also, I received the JIT request but my mentor said to wait until I got the green light from the PO to submit and I read that everyone with a score under 40 gets the JIT. Should I wait? 3) Any wagers on my chances of getting funded? I think if yes, it’ll be close, very close. Thanks for any insight!

    • writedit said

      Given that you are no longer eligible to submit, your application could be given extra consideration for select pay, if your PO can make a strong case for you as a candidate and your science. If you have had any manuscripts accepted for publication since you applied, you could let your PO know. Your PO wants to wait for the paylines to be released (internally) to know whether she’ll need to make any special efforts on your behalf, but anything that might strengthen your case (like a new paper) would help at that point. You should wait until she asks for the JIT, but if you need IACUC, IRB etc., you definitely want that lined up now, so you can submit the JIT as soon as it is requested.

  47. PCharles said

    Hi again…regarding K99 score of 23 comment above. I should have clarified that I met the old criteria at the time of the first submission in 2013 but no longer meet the criteria now so can’t resubmit.

  48. AZoe said

    I got a K99 impact score of 17 from NIGMS on my first (and only, same situation as PCharles above) application. I feel like this is a good number, but with the opaque way that NIGMS does their funding, I basically have to wait around for the Advisory Council to feel confident about anything. Any advice or should I just stay in contact with the PO and keep my fingers crossed for the next few months?

    • writedit said

      You can check with your PO to gauge where you sit in the pile, since I assume the NIGMS K review committee has met by now. Your PO would have a rough idea of the number of applications that scored lower than yours, and you can get an idea of whether he/she will advocate for your application during paylist discussions.

      • AZoe said

        Thanks, that’s helpful. The review panel only met 2 days ago, so I don’t have my summary statement yet, haven’t heard from the PO yet. Should I wait until I get the summary statement before I contact the PO?

      • writedit said

        Yes, that is best, since you will then be able to discuss any concerns the reviewers had (your PO will need some ammunition in advocating for your award, if it is not clearly within the funding range). If you have any manuscripts under review (or accepted for publication) since your submission, this would be important news to pass along as well. Your PO can also give other advice on next steps, such as an alternative K activity code, if you are eligible, or an RPG. That’s a good score, though, so hopefully you’ll be okay with the K99.

    • AZoe said

      I did end up getting funded and thought I would share my K99 timeline, since I found it helpful to read others’. It’s an excruciatingly slow process. I was especially surprised by how long I had to wait after the Council meeting.

      Oct 2013: submit application
      March 2014: Study Section meets, get impact score
      Late May 2014: Council meets
      Mid June 2014: 3 weeks+ after council met, PO finally calls with news. Says they hope to have NOA issued by July.
      September 1st, 2014: NOA issued

      • writedit said

        Congratulations and best wishes for success with your project and career in academic research. That is not an unusual delay, depending on the IC – though if your PO thought the award would be made about on time (July 1), there must have been quite a bureaucratic backlog.

  49. Teddy said

    Hi, Writedit, My PO used the word “cautiously optimistic” to describe the status of my grant. What exactly does that mean?

    • writedit said

      It means, assuming your administrative ducks are in a row, and barring anything strange and unexpected happening, you will probably receive an award. Be happy.

  50. ACG said

    Hello all, after doing a pretty exhaustive search I have been unable to find a good answer for the following question: Does the payline for F31-Diversity differs from that of the F31 fellowship (in this case NHLBI), and if so, what would you think is a reasonable margin (1, 5, even 10 percentile points?).

    • writedit said

      The payline is the same for any applications for that activity code (F31), but I assume (though do not know) that the diversity applications may get extra consideration for select pay (or have a de facto higher payline if the funds for that PA go farther due to fewer applications in the pool). However, it is not like ESI/new investigator payline breaks for R01s (with a definite percentile break in payline).

      • ACG said

        Thanks for your reply. I find it curious that there are no statistics regarding this topic, especially with statements like “NIH recognizes a unique and compelling need to promote diversity”. How are they gauging their success?

      • writedit said

        Some ICs only participate in the diversity program announcement (not the main parent announcement). As I said before, at ICs that participate in both announcements, I am sure if need be, they would go above the overall F31 payline to ensure enough diversity applications are picked up – but I also don’t know if they already factor in both ranges of scores when setting the payline. You can certainly ask your PO at this point how your score looks for FY14.

  51. Teddy said

    Hi, Writedit, my PO indicated “cautiously optimistic” on my grant. What exactly does that mean?

    • writedit said

      It means I need to do a blog post (in the main section) about what this means. ;) It means, barring unexpected administrative issues or other events beyond his/her control, you should get an award – the PO just can’t say so definitively at this point.

  52. F32 Application said

    I just received news from my program officer at NICHD. I had a F32 impact score of 24 and percentile of 21. She said that a few days ago she received news that the payline for NICHD will be for the 23 percentile and below, so I should definitely receive news of my funding of application in June or July. Things are looking up for everyone!!!! :)

    • writedit said

      Great – thanks so much for sharing this update, and congratulations! Best wishes for success with your project and your career in academic research.

    • Vidya C said

      Hi, F32 Application, congrats on your score and funding! I am checking for 2014 NICHD payline updates everyday and do not see them posted yet. Seems like the payline has improved from 2013 for the F32 (per your PO). I have a score of 15 on my K23 A1 and am wondering when I will know.. so your post is encouraging!

      • writedit said

        Since you are below the FY13 payline for Ks (18), you should be fine, and I assume your PO was encouraging. Your PO may know more by now, depending on when you last communicated, in advance of the paylines being updated online.

  53. Sequenceman said

    Hi Writedit,
    We’re waiting on a decision on an R21. The score was decent (25) and after council the PO said “cautiously optimistic”, which was great to hear.

    However, the proposed start date has already passed and this was set up by the RFA. Should we be concerned? I don’t want to bug the PO too much and was curious if you’ve heard of NIH grants getting funded after the start date (I haven’t but my experience is limited). Thanks for any advice!

    • writedit said

      The start date is irrelevant – this is used to indicate the rough timing of an award assuming everything else is on time (federal budget especially). The ICs are backed up with Cycle 1 & 2 awards, so don’t worry about the delay and missing your start date. And congratulations on the excellent score and cautiously optimistic PO.

  54. louis md said

    Hi writedit,

    Have a similar question. Submitted a job application to NIH within the Global Recruitment Program. After 3 weeks of closing date I received notification saying “You might receive several communications if you apply for more than one grade”. Within the same notification I was informed I didn’t qualify for the highest grade, which I expected. I haven’t received anything else after that. It is almost 5 weeks and half since closing date. Does the delay suggest any hope in being selected for a lower grade?. Or has it to do with agreements among ICs on needs, budgets or the like?. I appreciate your insights.

    • writedit said

      I believe the first message was an automatically generated notice since the posting had more than one pay grade available. You can log into your USA Jobs account to check the status of your application, and you can send an email to the contact person listed. I am not sure you always hear back if you are not considered for the position, but you bad news sooner than good, and your application status will indicate whether has been referred for further consideration.

  55. tcgal said

    A question regarding a junior researcher that i am mentoring. How does a K01 award recipient go about budgeting her time on a R03/R21? i know that these are allowable while doing a K01- but is the investigator’s effort “in kind”? we are getting ahead of ourselves, as the K01 hasnt been awarded yet- but her score was 16 (initial app), and we are awaiting the news. she is thinking of submitting something for June deadlines.

    • writedit said

      If she hasn’t received the K01 award, she should proceed as if she does not have one – but I expect she will know before June 16. In that case, while I believe she could have effort on someone else’s award (less than 25% effort, to ensure she has at least 75% effort for the K01), she cannot be the PI until the last 2 years of her K award (see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-08-065.html). However, some ICs have their own special R03 PAR limited to K awardees from their IC (e.g.,, http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-12-285.html). If this is one of those ICs, then she should wait to receive the K01 and then apply for the R03 through the appropriate FOA.

  56. Fannex said

    Does anyone know why my JIT link is not appearing 7 weeks after initial review if my score is well under 40? Should I interpret this as meaning anything negative or does it mean an email will be coming with a JIT request instead?

    • writedit said

      I don’t know why the JIT link hasn’t been activated, but I do know you don’t need to worry about its absence. The eRA Commons link is meaningless without a personal request from the PO or GMS. You can check with your PO by this point for an inkling of where you stand (though probably nothing definitive yet), especially if you applied in response to an RFA. Now, if there are any other issues with your eRA Commons account, you can check with their help desk, which is responsive and helpful.

      • Fannex said

        Thanks for the peace of mind and the advice. This blog is such a nice resource. Congrats on your new book!

  57. curious post doc said

    Just got a 23 priority score on our u01, no percentile. Any idea how to gauge this score?

    • writedit said

      Depends on the IC and whether this was investigator-initiated or submitted in response to a PAR or RFA. Basically, think in terms of an R01, but check with your PO, especially if this was a special solicitation (you won’t get a percentile), when you have your summary statement. At that point, you can discuss next steps if need be, but that should be a good score.

  58. tc said

    Are adjunct professor working part time eligible for NIH grant applications?

    • SG said

      Probably not. But, it is up to your school to determine if you can be a PI. NIH awards research grants to institutions not people…technically.

      • tc said

        I am under the impression that federal laws requires that you must work full time at an institution to be eligible for grant application. Am I wrong?

      • writedit said

        The federal government makes research awards to the university or other research institution, not to the individual. It is up to the institution to decide who can apply for grant funding, but generally it needs to be a permanent full-time employee, since they (the university/institution) are investing institutional resources in the application and award management processes etc.

    • writedit said

      As SG said, probably not as PI (the same is generally true for postdocs and instructors), but you should be able to be included as key personnel on another PI’s application. You can ask your Department Administrator or Office of Sponsored Programs about your institution’s policy.

  59. mattl said


    This forum is great, its been great for understanding more about the process. I submitted a K22 to NCI and my application got an impact score 36, outside the funding limit. I am waiting for the comments so that I can resubmit back in July. I am just worried whether this score is way outside the funding limits to come back in the resubmission. Is the impact score of 36 within the high impact group based on NIH funding factors. Please let me know your thoughts about this.

    thanks again.

    • writedit said

      Your PO should have good advice based on the discussion, and your summary statement will give you an idea of whether the reviewers are encouraging you to resubmit (ie, they like you a lot as a candidate but have specific concerns about the project or your training/transition plan). I generally view scores in the 30s-40s as the best of the non-funded options, since it suggests there are specific fixable issues that will drop the score, whereas a score in the 20s might not be easily improved (no obvious things to fix in the summary statement), and scores above 50 usually suggest lack of significance or major problems with the approach (overall design vs details). But lots of exceptions, and each case is individual. Again, your PO and your mentor will be able to guide you specifically, but I would certainly encourage working toward resubmission (getting another paper in the pipeline would be great, integrate updates from the literature/scientific meetings since you submitted, etc.).

      • mattl said

        Thanks a lot for your prompt reply, I really appreciate it.

  60. Earl E. Researcher said

    I am working under my first NIH grant funding as a PI. I am wondering what work I can and should attribute to my grant. For instance when submitting manuscripts, should I only cite the grant for work that was specified in my aims or can more general guidelines be applied? I see many cite their grants in review articles. Is this appropriate? Can you cite your grant if you are doing similar work with another drug (and it is helping you to refine your methods for the funded work)?

    I really appreciate advice and opinions.

    • writedit said

      Some PIs are very liberal in their assignment of publications to their grant. If your salary, and hence your ability to write anything (including review articles), comes from the NIH, then citing this support is appropriate. This is why grad students on felllowships or T32s have these sources cited – their stipends rather than any actual supplies etc. dollars makes their contribution possible. The NIH has no specific guidance on what is appropriate in terms of linkage (“Report publicationsresulting directly from this grant”), while the NIH Public Access Policy “applies to all peer-reviewed articles resulting from research supported in whole or in part with direct costs from NIH”. Now, if grant funding for one project leads to a different research direction, by all means, the original grant should be cited (since likely your renewal will incorporate new aims derived from this offshoot work) – you need not limit yourself to reporting publications related to the proposed aims alone. For the review articles, if it is linked to the funded area or the new offshoot area (you needed to research this field to develop these new aims), I have no qualms listing these publications. Your PO wants you to list anything possibly linked – the NIH wants to show Congress that the money being appropriated is being productively spent.

      As a side note, you want to cite the actual grant number (eg, R01CA8675309 – at the very least, keep the IC & serial number together, e.g., CA8675309) rather than the title, and not writing out National Cancer Institute etc. POs search PubMed by your grant number to find publications linked to their portfolio.

      • LNS said

        I thought this was a really good question. In case it is helpful to anyone else, I wanted to share what I learned during my recent K07 progress report. Since the K-award funds career development, I was told that all publications written or published during the funding period should be associated with my grant (even if the reported data were not collected on my K studies or I was not a primary author). I am funded at 100% so, technically, everything I do is supported by my award. This seems obvious as I write it, but I wasn’t clear about it until my PO pointed this out to me. Hope this helps others!

      • writedit said

        Great – thanks for sharing your experience, and especially pointing out that you do not need to only list first or last author papers … even middle author on someone else’s paper counts (NIH paid for your time on the project). Also, for those of you with RPG or P-mechanism funding, papers that you are not even an author on but whose authors were supported by your research funding (e.g., collaborators writing about their piece of the overall project) should be listed (per NIH policy).

  61. tcgal said

    AWESOME question! and i cant wait to see the responses. I personally do cite the grant in papers that are very closely related to the topic or methods- but have yet to see guidelines and would really like to know what others do..

  62. Earl E. Researcher said

    very helpful. thank you!!!

  63. methylene said

    Does anyone know the timeline for receipt of award/status once contact has been made by the PO stating “your application is being considered for funding”?

    Submitted F32 A0 August 2013, placed with NCI
    Received Scores November 2013, Percentile: 22
    Contacted by PO April 2014, Sent RCR corrections/proof of degree


    • writedit said

      They’ll contact you again closer to the award date, but anywhere from a couple weeks to a month or more, depending on the backlog at NCI. I would think by now they are catching up, but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly (& don’t worry if your start date has passed).

  64. Emaderton3 said

    I submitted a proposal for a NIAMS new investigator R03 in November, 2013. I recently got my impact score which was a 29. NIAMS is using their FY2014 R03 funding policy even for this specific PAR, so they are funding up to an impact score of 20. While I will have to wait and see my reviews to see if I can realistically better my score by 9 points, I wanted to know if there was data out there describing how often a grant is pulled for funding that is beyond the funding limit criteria for this Institute.

    • writedit said

      Most ICs set aside 3-10% of their new award funds for select pay decisions. If you look at the ICs with R01 funding trend data, you can see they are willing to go up percentiles in the low 40s to make awards – but these are individual applications tapped for a specific reason. Your PO needs to advocate for this to happen – it isn’t random – so if he/she is enthusiastic about your work, you could ask if they did this (if he/she did not already say you would need to wait until the end of the FY to find out for sure).

      • Emaderton3 said

        Thanks. Through a few emails, I did not detect any “enthusiasm” but more standard replies. Again, the reviews will probably be the most helpful at this time. Now, can someone move a R03 9 points??? (I did better a K award by 8.)

      • writedit said

        Not impossible – depends on if there is something fixable or if the reviewers just weren’t that enthusiastic.

      • Emaderton3 said

        How often do Institutes change their paylines during a given fiscal year? I saw a comment somewhere on here that some were updated for a specific institute. FYI–I am not getting email notifications that replies have been left to my comments even though I am selecting that option.

      • writedit said

        Some ICs change them throughout the year – some only set them once at the end of the FY (to reflect what they funded). Many do not ever publish a public payline. By now, any IC offering publicly posted interim paylines that has removed the “interim” status probably will not change them again … but it could. I am not sure how WordPress manages the notification of replies, but you can check with their support (http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact/).

      • Emaderton3 said

        So these would probably be permanent (I am assuming with slight adjustments if they get too many or too little good scores):


      • writedit said

        Updated April 16, probably. They have all the scored applications in hand now so know what the spread of scores looks like and how far their budget can go.

      • Emaderton3 said

        FYI–they only take direct support inquiries from people who have paid for the upgrade (which I assume means members that run a site through them) . . .

      • writedit said

        I have not paid for the upgrade that gets me access to support. I do this completely on a voluntary basis on my own time (not as part of my paid position at BICO).

      • Emaderton3 said

        BTW what is BICO?

      • writedit said

        BICO = Baby It’s Cold Outside (especially apt description for this past winter)

      • Emaderton3 said

        Ok lol. Was checking if you had changed locations\jobs.

    • Emaderton3 said

      Just got the JIT email request. How hopeful should I be?

      • writedit said

        Cautiously. They (PO and/or GMS) don’t request JIT unless an award is likely (don’t have the time to do the work if no award anticipated) – but it’s not a guarantee. You can ask your PO to confirm whether an award is in line for processing or if this is just to be prepared in case your application is tapped.

      • Emaderton3 said

        Newer guidelines suggest that all submissions with an impact score of 40 or better get JIT requests regardless of paylines. Is this always true or is getting JIT still an indicator of possible funding?

      • writedit said

        If the request was automatically generated by eRA Commons, it means nothing. If you received an email request from your PO or GMS, then you’re under consideration for an award.

      • Emaderton3 said

        It appears to be from Commons. I was always told to ignore JIT in Commons but getting an email was a different story. Time to wait it out.


      • Emaderton3 said

        Time for a long overdue update. I resubmitted this grant later in the year, and the resubmission got a priority score of 17 which is below the 2015 payline cutoff of 20. Council meeting was last week, but I have not heard anything yet. However, I think it would be reasonable to assume that I may get this one!

      • writedit said

        Congratulations on the 12-point improvement in score! It can take a couple of weeks after Council for anything to happen, especially since they probably did not get their appropriation until January, so no worries there. You can check with the PO for an idea about the timing, but I assume everything will be wrapped up in time for an on-time April 1 start.

      • Emaderton3 said

        I got my official JIT request from the Institute today. So in this case, it took only one week after the council meeting.

      • writedit said

        Cool beans – congratulations again.

  65. madness007 said

    My R00 was funded with a 10% cut, and I was wondering for budgeting purposes if there’s a snowballs chance that I’ll get this money back or not? And if it were to be re-funded, would I need to do anything to check on it or would it just magically happen?

    • SG said

      If the cut was due to NIH not having a budget in the beginning of the fiscal year then Yes, you could ayutomatically get the money back. If the cut was an administrative cut by your funding institute then No, your snowball has no chance. The best way to find out is to contact the grants specialist listed oin your Notice of grant Award (NGA). It should also say in the NGA but it can be hard to find.

  66. YJ said

    NHLBI increased payline to11% for R01/R21. I discuss with the PO about next step of my application received 12 % and he said there may be still a chance of my application for funding later this fiscal year. Has anyone received the award from NHLBI with a percentile outside institutional payline?

    • writedit said

      All ICs make select pay awards above the payline on a case by case basis, so if your PO is saying you may have a chance at being selected, this is good news, though a long long way from a guarantee. You might ask if he would like a response to concerns in the summary statement, in case he needs to make a case for your application. Of course, you can now submit as an A0 (if your 12th percentile was an A1 – and if it was an A0, definitely resubmit as an A1).

      • Emaderton3 said

        So a A0 submitted in February could be resubmitted as a A1, then resubmitted as an A0 if not funded? I guess I am asking whether the A0 has to be submitted after the April 16th deadline?

      • writedit said

        An application submitted in February (either A0 or A1, in March) would not be reviewed yet (no summary statement until June-July), so the next iteration of that Feb application could not go in until October/November. But, you could submit it then as either an A0 or an A1, depending on whether it strategically made sense to include or skip the Introduction (and whether you needed the extra month to work on the application). The policy starts now: any previously submitted application that has a summary statement issued can be submitted this June (A0)/July (A1).

  67. brain child said

    R01 reviewed last Fall, scored in grey area (19% percentile). Last week PO (very supportive throughout whole process, was a great advocate for my K99 award in 2010) indicated funding for May council was “very promising” but that “nothing is official until you receive a NoA”. Said to wait a week or two for more info. Today, Commons status changed from “council review completed” to “pending administrative review”. No request for JIT yet from GMS or PO, but then again the status just changed today. What does it mean?

    • writedit said

      It means congratulations are in order (almost). Your application is being processed for an award, which will likely be issued, pending confirmation there are no administrative issues that might interfere with this. You should get a JIT request soon (you could ask, since your status has changed, if you should prepare this now). Hopefully you have any necessary approvals (IACUC, IRB, etc.) and training certifications in hand.

      • brain child said

        In case it is helpful, here is the full timeline for a New Investigator/ESI R01 awarded by NIDA in FY14. Thank you for this site, it is very helpful!

        01/2012 to 09/2012 – formulated and drafted A0 R01 application
        10/04/2012 – A0 submitted
        02/14/2013 – A0 reviewed, scored 46, 44 pct (score not fundable but critiques addressable)
        03/2013 to 06/2013 – largely re-wrote application, collected more data, changed one aim to address critiques
        07/03/2013 – A1 submitted
        10/2013 – government shut down delayed scheduled review of application
        11/20/2013 – A1 reviewed, scored 27, 19 pct (described as “on the bubble” by PO)
        01/2014 – NIH budget for FY14 passed by Congress
        02/05/2014 – application passed over for funding by NIDA at Feb. council, program staff indicated a better chance later in the FY
        04/23/2014 – application selected for funding, status changed to “Pending Administrative Review”
        05/12/2014 – preemptive JIT submission
        06/2014 – first engagement by NIDA grants management specialist
        07/2014 – more interaction with NIDA grants management
        07/28/2014 – status changed to “Award Prepared”
        08/01/2014 – Notice of Award issued

      • writedit said

        Congratulations and thank you so much for posting such a comprehensive and helpful timeline! (especially the 10 months preparing the A0 application and all the government interruptions of the grant process) Best wishes for success with your project and your career in academic research!

  68. CF ESI said

    I am an ESI and PI for a multi-center clinical trial proposal to NHLBI. This is reviewed by Clin Trials Rev Committee and they give impact scores but not percentiles for these grants (RO1, converted to UO1 if multi-PI but that is not our case). I had a very helpful discussion with the PO today but we are not certain if or how ESI affects the pay line when a percentile is not given. I did see a percentile briefly in eraCommons when my summary statement was posted but it was removed and I don’t know if it was accurate. We are planning our A1 and it would be nice to know if I’ll benefit from ESI status or not, given that percentiles are apparently not assigned. Thank You.

    • writedit said

      If your summary statement notes your ESI status, program will take that into account when making award decisions, which will be made based on impact scores from the group of multisite R01 applications from all cycles – they’ll rank by score and then assess programmatic interest/priority for each trial – and also see how many ESI applicants are where in the pile. It sounds like your ESI status has expired; based on current NIH policy, if you resubmit the A1 within 13 months of the A0 submission (not review), you will retain ESI consideration for the A1 (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/investigator_policies_faqs.htm#2727).

  69. RD said

    I got a score of 32 for a NCI K22 submission. Does any one know what the payline for the 2014 NCI K grants are? The PO refuses to comments on the possibility of funding. The scoring is all over the place.
    For e.g, one reviewer gave a score of 1 for the research plan and the other gave a 4. One reviewer gave a score of 3 for the candidate and the other gave a 2 with no weakness specified. Any comments would be appreciated!!!

    • writedit said

      Well, that is almost certainly too high to be fundable, so you should ask your PO for resubmission strategy advice. He/she would have attended the meeting so would know which reviewers carried the discussion and what concerns to focus on. Ignore (mostly) the individual scoring and concentrate on the Resume & Summary of Discussion.

  70. Jeff said

    Dear WriteEdit,

    I am on a K-23 (starting year 3 soon) and have some reasonably good data and my mentor thinks I am ready to apply for an RO1. I transferred my K right after I got it to another institution (this took about a year) and as a result, NHLBI extended the K for an extra year since I didn’t use any of the money the first year. I always planned on trying for an RO1 to start year 4 of my K (trying is the key word of course), but it looks like the rules say that I must be in the last 2 years of my K to be able to have effort on an RO1. Any thoughts on how to get around this or since my K is for 6 years, am I stuck waiting an extra year to apply?
    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • writedit said

      You can talk with your PO, who can let you know about what flexibility they have in your situation, but I would think they could be flexible.

  71. overcommitted said

    I have an RO1 pending at NHLBI at a fundable score–I just got the JIT request! They ask for current support, pending, and planned. I am 50% on this award, and I have another submitted RO1 pending review, where I have proposed 50%. Because I”m VA funded, this will exceed my allowable coverage! Do they count the %effort for the grants pending review? Any tips for preparing this page are appreciated. I certainly don’t want to screw anything up at this stage!!!

    • writedit said

      No, they don’t count pending awards when issuing this award. If you are fortunate enough to get the second R01, then there will be negotiations to both awards to address the effort (reduce your effort on each). Neither award will be in jeopardy, so don’t hesitate to ask your PO questions should the need arise to reallocate effort.

  72. postdoc_nrsa said

    Hi writedit – many thanks for maintaining this terrific site. I’m waiting on an NRSA that will likely begin this summer, but the NRSA salary will be lower than the postdoc salary at my current institution. I’ve asked if they would be willing to make up the difference, but they are tentatively saying no, citing cost-sharing risks (i.e., two separate federal sources funding the same work). Is this true? It seems somewhat odd to me, particularly because my work involves research costs which can’t be covered by an NRSA alone, so there’s going to be some overlap between the two funding sources, at least in that sense. Any guidance is appreciated – thanks.

    • writedit said

      Many pre and postdoc trainees supported by NRSA funds have their stipends supplemented by their institution. You couldn’t be given % effort on the budget of your advisor’s award (which I assume is what will cover your research costs), since you must be 100% on the NRSA (this is the overlap issue), but your department could use other funds to make up this difference, including indirects from your advisor’s award.

  73. Gary said

    I received a 15% on an R21 that I re-submitted and that will be reviewed mid-May. I have additional data and experiments to propose so I want to submit basically an expanded version of the R21 as an R01. Now if my re-submitted R21 does not get a score (which I will know by the third week of May) that is clearly fundable, I want to turn around and submit the R01 for June. While I know I should wait for the summary statement, I want to do this for time reasons. However, it will get flagged as a similar grant to my R21 currently under review. Will I get notified of this and be asked what I want to do (e.g. withdraw the R21) or am I better off contacting them (the PO?) and requesting them upfront to withdraw the unfundable R21? When there is overlap does the PI always get asked what they want to do to alleviate the issue or do they (CSR?) decide to decline a submission without contacting the PI. Thanks!

    • writedit said

      The issue is having two applications under review at the same time. You could ask the PO for advice about withdrawing the R21 now, prior to the study section meeting, in which case you could go ahead with the R01 in June (but have no feedback from the R21). If you want to see what happens with the R21, you could get your R01 ready and check with your PO after the study section meets. You can’t submit the R01 if the R21 might be considered for funding at Council. On the other hand, if the R21 does not score well, you probably want to receive the summary statement before submitting the R01 to address concerns reviewers had about the science (especially if the score goes up from your 15th percentile), which might force you to wait until Ocober anyway. I’d suggest you contact the PO now to decide whether to withdraw now and, if not, what your best course of action will be after the study section meets. Your PO would need to be involved no matter what, so better to explain what you are considering sooner than later.

  74. Mark said

    Any chance/case that an R21 scored right on the payline not to be funded?

    I have an R21 scored 11%, institutional payline is 11%, council meeting completed Feb 25, since then nothing has changed in the ecommons status, the PO told me that there had been an unexpected delay in processing the award….I am becoming more anxious, cause this R21 is currently critical for my lab….thinking about what IF NOT is….:(

    so, anyone out there that a grant at payline was not funded?


    • writedit said

      Well, if your PO is talking about a delay in processing the award (vs making a decision about whether to make an award), then you should be okay. Paylines go up to and include the stated number (so, 11th percentile will be funded as within the payline). If there is an administrative issue (related to IACUC, IRB, etc. approval or other policy issue), they will let you know and give you a chance to address. Not sure when you last communicated with the PO, but you can ask for a status update and whether you can arrange for the spending 90 days in advance of the award notice (something you would then arrange with your department/sponsored programs office).

      • mark said

        thank you Writedit!

        The last communication with my PO was last week, there shall not be any administrative issues…Thanks for the 90-days suggestion…


  75. Mark said

    Dear Writedit,

    is it normal that 9-weeks after the council meeting no decision has been made for a grant at the payline?

    • writedit said

      Not typical, but not abnormal. This is a large bureaucracy after all. If you have not communicated with PO or GMS in this timeframe, you could check on the status. If you have been in touch but were told to be patient, you could check in to ask when you will be within 90 days of the award (for pre-award spending planning).

  76. Karen said

    Dear Writedit,

    I got a DP2 score of 21, is it likely to be funded? As the statement summary is not available, should I contact PO asking for funding possibilities?



    • writedit said

      You should probably wait for the summary statement until you contact the PO, who cannot tell you anything at this point since they do not use scores alone to select awardees. When you have the summary statement, if there are informative critiques, you can ask not only about your funding likelihood (based on score and review) but also whether you should address the concerns.

      • Karen said

        very helpful! thanks so much.

    • sand said

      Hi, Karen,
      Did you get any information for your DP2 grant? When will we get the notice of grant award of DP2 this year? Thanks.

  77. Molly said

    Dear Writedit,

    I applied for a NIH grant that will be reviewed 6/26/14. If I get a good score I will need to submit a “just in time” including IACUC approval (and I don’t have an AUP yet). That would be no problem except that I will be moving to a different institution in August and if funded I would, of course, like to take the grant with me. If I write an AUP and have it approved here, I am afraid that this institution would have some additional arguments to try to keep the grant if funded (apparently this happened here before). I could contact my new institution and have it approved there but since I will not be moving until August, I am afraid that it will be too late for a just in time, plus I don’t think it is possible to send a grant from an institution with an IACUC approval from another. What is your recommendation?

    Thanks a lot,


    • writedit said

      Don’t worry about anything – you will be fine on timing. I assume you submitted your application in February, which means it would not go to Council until this fall (after you move); this is when you would need JIT, if your score is competitive. In theory, the earliest start date would not be until December, but it will be much later than that due to midterm elections this year (federal budget will be delayed as a result). So, you should have plenty of time to relocate, write up your protocol, and secure IACUC approval at your new institution (assuming your score is within or near the projected payline – which also won’t be known until some time in 2015). If you receive a competitive score, you will want to be in touch with the PO when you move, including confirmation that you can conduct the research as proposed (and reviewed), and they can issue the award to your new institution.

  78. Molly said

    You are really fantastic and so quick in answering. Your site is a much needed asset to all of us. Thank you so much.
    Yes, I submitted in February. Unfortunately I forgot about this year elections….. this is going to lengthen the time to funding considerably.

  79. Rachel said


    I received my NIAMS F30 score back some months ago (Impact of 28, 23rd percentile). At the time, I emailed my PO to ask about my chances, and she said I wasn’t totally out of the running yet, and that the pay line might go up. It did: from 21 to 24. So, I’m still above the pay line…What are my chances, do you think? And how long does it take to find out one way or the other, on average?

    The next NIAMS council meeting is tomorrow (June 3), and I’d just like to know what I can expect to see, whether successful or not. In the meantime, I’m preparing for my next A0 application…

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • writedit said

      You should definitely prepare and submit again. The payline will not go up again, but you can ask your PO about select pay (selection for an award above the payline). There is no official notice that you will not receive an award, so you would only hear something if you were going to be funded (or unless you ask). You can also ask the PO for advice on your next application, in terms of what you decided to change and strengthen. She can provide insight on what program would like to see and probably knows your study section, too (might have insight about the discussion that wasn’t captured in the summary statement).

      • Rachel said

        Thanks for your quick response! I guess I’ll be pestering my PO about it again.

  80. researcher said

    Hi writedit,

    This is the best Q-A resource available! fantastic job.
    My question is: when should I hear whether my grant was approved by Council for select pay or bridge?

    • writedit said

      Council does not approve applications for select pay – they just approve applications being considered for awards (whether they are within or beyond the payline). The IC Director makes final decisions, and your PO plays the most important role in pushing for your proposal to be considered. If you are on the pay list, a select pay decision could come as late as September (ICs go down the paylist to pay awards until the $ runs out). Your PO can give you an idea where you are on the list (I assume your PO has already indicated he/she will push for select pay). You should certainly submit another application if possible in the meantime (i.e., hopefully you are not waiting to hear about this pending application before submitting another).

      • researcher said

        Thanks for your response.

      • researcher said

        Hi, going back to the list, how far up in the list you need to be to get funded based on recent cycles? top 2? top 5?


      • writedit said

        This depends on the IC and the science of the projects under consideration for select pay. These awards are not necessarily in rank order, so there is no rule of thumb. Your PO’s level of enthusiasm for your application and how hard he/she pushed for funding consideration are the most important factors.

  81. ImpactFactorNeuron said

    Hi writedit, thank you so much for this extraordinary blog.

    I was recently told that the budget of my pending R01 will be cut by about 20%. The PO wanted to know if I would like to revise my specific aims if the cut will affect execution of the original specific aims. Since this is a significant cut, and the animals to be used are expensive, I would like to revise the aims (remove one of the aims, and then split the remaining 2 aims into 3). However, I am not sure if doing this will “upset” NIH and negatively impact my official award.
    In addition, since I will essentially remove 1 specific aim, can I reduce animal numbers at this stage? My grant status is currently “pending administrative review”

    • writedit said

      Your PO specifically asked this because he/she knows you cannot achieve your approved aims with that much less money. You can absolutely negotiate all this with him/her and not risk losing your award or making anyone upset. First, rewrite the aims the way you feel capable of achieving them with the 20% cut (remove one aim, split the others). Indicate the number of animals that must be cut to accommodate the lower budget. You need to show this to the PO first – maybe you can get some money added back as part of the discussion. If not, again, don’t worry about making anyone upset at the NIH. Your Notice of Award will reflect the revised aims so that is what you are judged against in terms of whether you have made appropriate progress and achieved your aims, both for noncompeting renewals and your competing renewal (progress is based on the revised aims vs the original ones originally reviewed by study section – whatever you propose for your revised aims, you need to be able to achieve them with the budget available).

      • ImpactFactorNeuron said

        Thank you so much!!!

  82. tc said

    I have a project funded by NIH, but I may have to close down my lab and move to another country, where I will continue to work on this project. What will happen to my NIH grant? Will the NIH take back the remaining money, or my current institution the US can transfer the grant to other faculty?

    • writedit said

      The award is made to your current university, so they need to relinquish all or part of the award – usually not a problem, depending on the research. The NIH does make awards to foreign institutions, but whether you can take any of the award with you depends on if the future institution has the facilities to conduct the research as proposed and the type of work. (I am assuming you are the PI – if you are a co-investigator on someone else’s award, it is up to them whether to have someone else do your portion of the project or subcontract to your new institution.) I think the State Department might get involved, too. Y ou can ask your PO how this would be handled on the NIH side – and you should do so early, as the PO must be involved months before you intend to try to move the award.

  83. ImpactFactorNeuron said

    A guy has just found out that his pending R01 will be funded a few days after submitting another R01 (brand new). Given that he is still ESI eligible, is the 2nd R01 going to be accorded ESI privileges, just like the first one?

    • writedit said

      Lucky guy. ESI status at time of submission counts, and notice of award must be issued prior to submission. The first R01 notice will come well after submission obviously.

  84. IntraNIA said

    Hi again! I previously put in an A0 K99/R00 at NIA in June 2013. Scored a 31 during January 2014 IRG (due to the shutdown). Put in an A1 in February 2014. Scored a 16 (!) during June 2014 IRG. I am assuming Council meets in November and funds get disbursed at the earliest in January.

    Now here’s my problem. While I was waiting in March, I found my dream tenure-track job. I got said job. My start date is January 2015. I have been doing the K part of my work for some time now.

    Thus, a few things are unclear to me:

    1) I believe the new K stipulations went into effect for submissions after late 2013. I put in my A0 before that time. Is my K affected or not?

    2) If the PO isn’t willing to play ball on the R00 part, is it possible to negotiate an award of some kind that covers the same Specific Aims of the R00?

    I defer to your wisdom and counsel. Thank you, WritedIt.

    • writedit said

      Your A1 falls under the new policy, which requires 12 months of K99 support (not in a faculty position). If you can delay accepting the position for a few months, you could ask the PO whether your A0 could be awarded this summer, and then you accept your faculty position at the end of the K99 period (summer 2015 vs Jan 2015). Your new institution offering the position might be happy to wait if it means you come with an R00. If waiting is not an option and you do not get the K99/R00, then you can write an R21 or R01 based on your R00 project, but you cannot negotiate to have the R00 proposal you submitted funded under a different activity code. If you cannot delay and need to start the new position next Jan (which means giving up the K99/R00), and/or if the PO cannot get the A0 funded this summer, you will definitely want to submit an RPG application this Oct versus waiting until you move (you should be able to submit your application through them, if you have accepted the position by then).

      • IntraNIA said

        The PO and I had a conversation. She did not take well to the idea of the A0 being funded. The earliest the K99/R00 could get funded would be Nov 2014. Deferring my start date to Fall 2015 is not an option.

        Based on my conversation with my PO, my alternative plan is to form some collaborations and submit a K01 in the 1st or 2nd 2015 funding cycle. My thinking is that the K99/R00 was very well received, and the K01 would be reviewed by the same internal study section at NIA. It seems a more appropriate mechanism than trying for an R01 “right out of the gate.” I am more than ready for a faculty position, but having a transitional mentorship makes a lot of sense.

        While submitting in October 2014 is a fair thought, I have no idea if I could transform the grant while finishing my projects and starting on IRB applications. I do have enough startup for a few initial projects.

      • writedit said

        The K01 route is a good thought, especially if you need more preliminary data and publications to make the case for R01 funding. At NIA, you will only get $20K for research (main point of the award is to cover your salary), so you will need your start up to conduct research even with K01 support. I assume your PO meant submitting in Feb or June 2015 for an FY16 award. If you could submit something by October 2014 (for an FY15 award), that might be a good idea given the budget uncertainty after FY15 (the budget detail reached in 2013 only rolled back the sequester for FY14 & FY15). However, if you need to attend to other projects before you move, then it might be difficult to do the K01 application as well. I assume you know who your mentor will be at the new institution – which is someone else you might ask for advice.

      • IntraNIA said

        I had not realized the K01 just covered salary. I see why you suggest the R01.

        So you have given fantastic advice, and I very much appreciate it. If you don’t mind, I could use your input on a development related to the K99/R00 A1.

        I talked to my current PI, and he’s fine with me getting K training through my mentors, working with data, etc., but not physically being on site. “Some people apply for 5 years straight and don’t get an R01, this is a no-brainer,” as he put it. My future department chair said that my future institution can probably work something out with deferring the tenure-track position. Specifically, I could in early 2015 come to said institution as non-tenure track staff covering my own salary, officially be working 75% on K99 related stuff, and then in Nov. 2015 transition to tenure-track after applying to activate the R00.

        Have you ever heard of someone doing that? Do you think that might work? I obviously would want to get the PO’s input, but this route may be a viable solution for me to still use the K99/R00.

      • writedit said

        What you suggest is feasible – continuing as a postdoc at the new institution for a year before transitioning to the R00 in a tenure track position. Your PO will need to be on board with all of this, but if the research can be conducted at the new institution and you have a mentor there, plus your mentor at your current institution (I assume someone intramural at the NIA, per your handle) who launched the project, this should all be doable and acceptable to the NIA. There might well be a continuing resolution as of December 2014, which might delay your award, depending on how well it ranks at NIA. I assume the PO is optimistic about the K99/R01 A1 score of 16 (not a sure thing at every IC).

      • IntraNIA said

        Hello again. I figure my situation may be instructive as an atypical case study, so here’s another update.

        The NIA PO is “on board” with the proposal that I mentioned to you, along with the K99 PI, future department chair, and future Dean. The PO is going to advocate on my behalf with the NIA deputy director of extramural research, who handles most training grants. If the deputy director approves the plan, I am told that we can move forward. Council would review in October or November, and an award date at the earliest in roughly January 2015.

        The PO sounded optimistic about my situation, and the proposal fundability. The FY2014 payline for an NIA K99/R00 was 20. I get the impression that the payline will be similar for FY2015, barring sudden changes from Congress.

      • writedit said

        Thanks for the great update – glad this is working out for you. The next NIA Council meeting is Sept 16-17, though an award would probably still need to wait until NIA has their FY15 appropriation, which I expect won’t happen until next year. The good news is that for FY15, the appropriation will be at worst the same as FY14 and more likely a bit higher, so you should be good with that score – especially after all the discussion and arrangements made in your case.

      • Intramural NIA said

        Hi again! I have another meaningful update.

        I spoke with the NIA extramural Scientific Director. She also seems to be “on board” with the proposal (see below). She has requested that I draft a long letter explaining how I will conduct the Specific Aims and training aspects of the K at the new institution, bring on a seasoned co-PI at the new institution with a detailed involvement plan, and affirm with separate new letters that the current PI and core mentors are fine with the proposal. (She affirmed that my score of 16 on my NIA A1 K99/R00 for FY2015 is very likely to be funded, and that she foresees no bizarre exceptions like portfolio diversification).

        Importantly, the letter should be sent to the PO with the extramural director CCed in either October or November. I confirmed that this is intentionally after Council meets. I think this is a good sign?

        I am now waiting on final confirmation from the PO that the A1 K99/R00 application can move forward for consideration by Council. She’d sent me an e-mail asking how the conversation went and seemed pleased that my questions were answered. But I still want to be absolutely certain.

      • writedit said

        This is another wonderful and wonderfully informative update. Sending the required letters in Oct or Nov is fine – a good sign that you are being asked to do so – and on schedule for a December or early 2015 award, depending on the extent to which the continuing resolution delays awards at NIA.

      • IntraNIA said

        Update. I sent along a JIT request from the PO and Deputy Scientific Director for a memorandum on doing the data-analysis-driven K99 at my next institution, updated biosketches, updated support letters, and institutional commitment letter. The JIT did not include current support and IRB stuff (still pending approval until probably January).

        No word yet from PO other than thanking me for sending the packet along. My new position starts in early January with or without the K, so I am getting nervous.

        Based on your advice to others, I assume I should be patient and take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

      • writedit said

        Your award cannot start until IRB approval (if required for your research) is documented, so if that won’t happen until January, then neither will your award. The federal budget situation is the biggest determining factor in your award status at this point. The material you sent now is to obtain formal approval from NIA to allow your K99 to move to the new institution (after being peer reviewed for work done at a different institution). Once that is set, then it will be a matter of waiting for the budget to shake out, but this all looks very promising still. You will likely start your new position without the K99, but that does not put the K99 at risk – though I realize you want to move to the tenure track position in a year so don’t want the K99 delayed too long. I assume your PO is aware of all this and will do whatever she can to expedite your award.

      • IntraNIA said

        NIA published their interim FY2015 paylines. It is brutal. K awards are being funded up to 14. I got a 16. The PO has confirmed today that my grant is not being singled out for funding above the payline. I’m going to talk with her on Friday about the pros/cons of waiting until later, to see if the payline gets bumped up, versus just going with my TT position in January. My university is willing to float me a few months if needed, but beyond that it’s unlikely.


      • writedit said

        Wow – I cannot believe your PO, who was both on board with your plan at the new institution and hopeful about your chances (“foresees no bizarre exceptions”), now says you won’t be tapped for funding above the payline. I assume she means right now vs at all, since the payline should go back to FY14 levels once the FY15 budget is passed. Your application could be picked up later in the year after the FY15 appropriation is in hand. If Congress passes an omnibus budget for the rest of FY15, then your PO may know better when the payline will be adjusted upward. If Congress passes another CR, then the payline won’t change for many months. The ICs are nervous about what might happen in this political climate, but I am still hopeful that the NIH will be about the same in FY15 as it was in FY14. Now, FY16 will be worse due to the resumption of the sequester – unless Congress agrees on something to avoid resumption of the across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending. The ICs could be looking ahead to a few uncertain years and being more conservative in their awards going forward, too, but Ks are low budget, time-limited line items, not big long-term commitments.

        So, you should ask your PO how soon after the FY15 budget passes might the NIA adjust its paylines … and whether you should be working on a K01 or R01 if you go straight to a TT position at the new institution.

      • IntraNIA said

        So back on Dec 5th, I called the PO. She suggested I sit tight for a few months. I moved, got situated, and still have the blessing of the department chair and university to remain a post-doc instead of TT. They are mildly frustrated, but thankfully not at me (I think).

        Anyway, I got a reply from my PO today indicating that my application has been put on a list for consideration for pay. No final decisions made at this time. Meeting with institute director later next month to finalize funding decisions.

        Sounds sort of promising?

      • writedit said

        Yes – knowing your situation, your PO would not have you put your appointment and career on hold if she did not think an award was likely (especially not suggesting to work on another application as insurance during your discussions last year). Still no guarantee (see RT3), but they must appreciate what you and your new institution are doing to accommodate the award terms.

  85. pending council review said

    I have an NHLBI RO1 in consideration for funding (well below the ESI payline and it qualifies for ESI). Council meeting is today. When will I know for sure, what will the commons status update to, and could I call my PO or would it drive her crazy, and would it be useful to call the grants administrator? Or email either of them?

    • writedit said

      If you have submitted your JIT, there is nothing you can do but sit back and wait for the processing to run its course. Your award will not be until July, hopefully earlier rather than later in the month. Your eRA Commons status will change from Council review completed to reflect administrative review, pending award, award being processed, and awarded (some permutation of this). If you truly need to know so you can start spending in advance of the award (allowable up to 90 days in advance), then you can request your PO or GMS for confirmation for your institution that the award will be issued within 90 days (which it will be).

  86. JNJ said

    Hi writedit,
    You give a wonderful advice and maintain a helpful blog. I got 12% on my RO1 (NHLBI) grant. I think the council meeting is in October. Is there any chance for me to get this grant with new FY budget? or what I should do? Please advice.

  87. K01(BD2K) said

    Hi! This may be a far reach, but I was wondering if anyone knows how they will make funding decisions for the K01s submitted under BD2K?(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HG-14-007.html) My K01 received an impact score of 20. Thanks!

    • writedit said

      I would assume the BD2K applications will be ranked by score, with some discussion among the top-scoring to select the 6-7 they intend to fund. You have a good score, but depending on the response to the RFA, there could be a number of applications with scores at or below 20 (there were over 130 applications in response to the main U54 BD2K Center RFA). You should ask your assigned PO whether ICs will have the opportunity to weigh in on the selection of the 6-7 applications to be funded through BD2K and whether individual ICs can fund (outside the BD2K pool) applications assigned to them. You can also ask your PO whether you should submit your K01 (new application) this October through the parent announcement.

  88. K01(BD2K) said

    Thank you so much for the background details and advice on what specifics to ask my PO! Yikes, that is a lot of applications for the BD2K Center RFA!

  89. question said

    Hi–I have an RO1 pending, post-council, and is below the payline so all looks good. However my PO is being very conservative, of course, and emphasizing that nothing is definite until the NoA is issued. I followed up by email today and she said that she doesn’t know when the ‘pay plan’ will be signed (presumably by the director?)? This is NHLBI. Does anyone know exactly what she is referring to and/or whether this is giving more solid confirmation that my grant will be funded?

    • writedit said

      Yes, the Director signs off on the pay list or pay plan, and I would certainly expect that to happen soon, given that Council met earlier this month. Your PO is being careful, giving the standard “nothing definite until the NoA is issued” – but she seems to be indicating you are on the pay list so are just in a holding pattern. If you need to start spending money sooner (or start advertising positions in the lab, if that’s the case), you should be able to do so under the 90 days in advance of the award policy, since the award must be issued before Sept 30th and will likely be issued before the end of July or maybe August (given the July 4th holiday coming up).

  90. Sitting in limbo said

    I submitted an R21 proposal in the Fall of 2013. It was scored in the 14th percentile in March 2014 (NCI). Preparing the revision for July 2014, I discovered that the Program Announcement has expired. Is it possible to submit the revision under a different PA than the original submission?

    • writedit said

      Yes, you can submit the A1 to the parent announcement or another appropriate PA. You might ask your PO for suggestions (and alert him/her to the change in FOA).

  91. Vidya C said

    Hi Writedit, is it normal for a K23 administrative review with NICHD to take more than a month? My eRa Commons status on this application was updated 6/18 as “pending”. I heard from my PO on July 4th that the grant is approved but pending administrative review. Would you suggest I contact the PO or my grants specialist again to find out if there is any glitch? Thanks,.

    • writedit said

      No, this is not unusual, so please don’t worry, and there is no need to contact the GMS or anyone else again. No glitches – just bureaucracy.

      • Vidya C said

        Okay. Thanks for your prompt reply and advice.

  92. MKIM said

    Any updates on the BRAIN Initiative proposal scores / results – when the scores will be released ?

  93. Jeff said

    Dear writedit, I was wondering if there are any general guidelines on how much % effort a new investigator on a K should ask for as they transition off their K and hopefully onto an RO1. The application will be going in and if funded the first time (low likelihood) there would be some time on year 3 (PO said that effort from the K can be listed as concurrent) then on year 4 effort for K can be reduced to 50% (I am about 15-20% clinical now also). Obviously when I am off the K as much effort as possible on this RO1 will help to keep my chief from firing me since realistically 2 RO1’s by the end of a K is not a small task these days. Would I just ask for say ~50% effort throughout and when still on the K have this be concurrent until the K is over?

    • writedit said

      For the last 2 years of your K, you can drop your %effort on the K to 50%, during which time you would put 25-30% effort on the R01 (saving 20-25% effort for clinical, teaching, administrative time). When the K ends, your level of effort on the R01 would go up to 50%, and you would plan the budget accordingly (so less effort first 2 years, assuming overlap with K). The effort can be negotiated depending on the timing of the award. Your level of effort on the R01 needs to make sense in conjunction with the rest of the budget – so if you are also asking for a postdoc and/or grad student, you need to be able to justify everyone’s role at their assigned effort (in addition to your 50% effort).

  94. what is going on? said

    I am a little confused and a little concerned. I have a pending RO1 with the NHLBI with a fundable score. The project did not make it onto the ‘pay plan’ signed by the director due to some confusion over my ESI status (which is required for the proposal to be funded). My PO (without me having to ask or anything–so i really appreciated this) saw that my project was not listed and then got my ESI status confirmed. Now it has to be signed off on by the director, and my PO does not have any update on the status. The Grants Management Specialist has been totally unresponsive to any calls and emails, and also my PO said that she wasn’t able to talk to the GMS, either. So, did i miss my one-and-only chance? My PO did not indicate this, just that she does not know when it might be signed off on. We also discussed the 90-day spending prior to funding, and she indicated that because the funding would be issued by teh end of the fiscal year (Sept.) then i was within the allowable window, as long as my University was okay with this in case it does not get funded. We have had extended conversations about my JIT information, so I doubt she would have spent that much time if it is not likely to get funded. These discussions occurred after the initial payplay/ESI problem, so I just don’t know what to think. My PO says she does not know anything else at this point, and I believe her. Is this typical for NHLBI or has this happened to anyone else?

    What can i do, who can i ask? What is going to happen?

    • writedit said

      Don’t worry – you will receive an award by Sept 30th. The GMS has nothing to do with whether your application will receive an award, just when. You don’t need to keep pushing for answers at NHLBI – please just try to be patient as the bureaucratic process of preparing an award creeps along. They will contact you if any additional information is needed. If in the meantime you need to advertise a position for your project (postdoc, technician) or make purchases in advance of the award being issued, you can ask your sponsored programs office and/or department fiscal administrator to set up an account for you. They may want to see the email from your PO that indicates you will receive an award within 90 days (and your PO would be happy to send this to them, if you only discussed this by phone vs email).

      • what is going on? said

        Thanks for the reassurance; she told me that it would be funded by Sept. 30 IF it gets funded (she is always saying things very indefinitely). Is this just how she has to say it? Conversely, if she thought there were a problem, would she say something like “You shouldn’t spend money”?

      • writedit said

        No PO can promise an award will be issued until the Notice of Award has been prepared. Your PO does not expect anything to go wrong, which is why she told you to start planning how to spend the money (90-day advance spending), but she cannot guarantee something completely unexpected and out of her control will not happen (even if the risk is infinitesimally small). So, she must always say “if” rather than “when”. It’s the first lesson they teach POs, I think.

  95. Sailaja said

    I have my ESI status till the end of September. If I submit my R01 grant before September 30th for October cycle, Can I still keep my ESI status?
    Thanks in advance,

    • writedit said

      Yes – your status on the date the application is successfully submitted to grants.gov is the date on which ESI status is checked and flagged on the application. If you submit prior to Sept 30th and do not see that your application has been flagged as ESI in eRA Commons, you’ll want to contact the ESI help desk (ESINIH@od.nih.gov). Now, if you submit Sept 30 and the application has errors to be fixed, I believe the subsequent submission (successful submission) would be used to establish ESI status, so I’d suggest submitting a day early to be safe.

  96. Sailaja said

    Thank you so much for the suggestion and information.

  97. Jason said

    Quick follow up question to the ESI thread. If one currently holds a k08, what, if any R series grants can be submitted without losing that status for the eventual R01 application from the K project? Could an R21 go in without losing ESI status?

  98. ThousandWords said

    Hi, Writedit,
    I received a letter from PO about a pending NIBIB SBIR with impact score of 19. Although this score is below the payline, the PO decided not to fund it due to “program focus: our preference at this point is to extend our funding allocation to other areas of research to provide better portfolio balance”. What would be your suggested steps I should take at this point? This application is also assigned to NIGMS and NIH Office of director.
    Many thanks!

    • writedit said

      Wow – this is tough. It doesn’t happen often, and this is why I recommend PIs talk with POs before submitting – just to be sure their application doesn’t duplicate what is already being funded and fills a need. If you have been working with the NIGMS PO (and/or someone in the OD), by all means contact him/her. You can ask your NIBIB PO about contacting NIGMS and/or the OD with regard to taking the application, since he/she (NIBIB PO that is) would need to be involved anyway. Most POs who cannot fund a worthy application are willing to help get it to ICs with a secondary assignment (some people on the blog have posted happy experiences in this regard). Good luck with this … and if neither NIGMS nor the OD can or want to take this application, be sure to talk with POs there to find out if anyone would be interested in your work before reapplying.

  99. Vidya C said

    Hi Writedit, Just wanted to let you know that I received the NOA on 8/14 for my K23! Happy about that but they have cut salary and scientific monies per NICHD policy though the PA had different guidelines. Wondering if it is worth asking about it. Thanks for your blog – it is very helpful!

    • writedit said

      Hooray! I am glad the award came through after all the delays. If you look at the IC-specific limitations and requirements for the K23 (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/contacts/parent_K23.html), you will see how NICHD differs from the parent announcement and other ICs. The NICHD $ levels listed in this table are what govern your award, not what other ICs do, so you cannot request more money (and you were not “cut” – your submitted budget was adjusted to match NICHD policy).

      • Vidya C said

        True, but the same PA was awarded by NICHD for a much higher amount which would not have been possible based on their policy. Thanks for your advice and enthusuiasm

      • writedit said

        Do you mean you know someone who received a K23 from NICHD who received a salary higher than their stated limit? If so, there could be a couple explanations. The K parent awards were recently reissued, and the ICs may have decided to adjust their stipend & research support levels. Actually, I have noticed a few changes when I look closely at a specific IC for an application I’m working on. Also, a K recipient can have a higher salary than is listed in the IC policy, but it is the institution (university) picking up the extra cost, not the IC making a higher award (at least, I am not aware of ICs paying above their stated salary stipend levels). You can certainly ask your PO, but if your award reflects their stated $ limits for salary & research funds, then I doubt you can expect to receive more (especially in this financial climate).


  100. Emaderton3 said

    Hi once again,

    I recently resubmitted a R01 (A1 as an ESI using the extended date for the next immediate review cycle). In the A0 summary statement, two of my three reviewers gave me criteria scores in the 1-3 range (one 4 from each). The third reviewer’s scores were much different and lower. Overall, I am guessing they led to the overall priority score being talked down to a mediocre score. The discussion with my P.O. was very positive; she really liked my proposal and felt I was in a good position to resubmit so quickly. Looking at eRA Commons yesterday, I noticed that a different P.O. has been assigned to my submission (and the proposal did go to the same study section). Is this common? I am a bit dismayed that the previous P.O. will not be involved since she appeared supportive of my proposal.

    • writedit said

      Sometimes applications are first assigned to a PO in the extramural office before being assigned to someone in the appropriate scientific program, but this seems unlikely for an A1 (you can tell by seeing where in the IC this new PO is located). If your application was reassigned, I expect your original PO knows, but you should ask her about the change. It could be that her portfolio is being split up a bit, but she might still be able to request your application; if not, she can put in a good word with your new PO and perhaps do an email introduction.

      • Emaderton3 said

        The new person that was assigned is not a PhD but listed as a Referral Officer at the assigned (and correct) Institute. So does that mean this will change to another P.O. then?

      • writedit said

        That is probably what it means (i.e., interim assignment to general referral officer), though it seems as though it would have been easy enough just to reassign your initial PO. You should certainly check with her to see what is going on and to be sure she is aware of where your application is (she may not know). Your query will not be out of place, so you don’t need to worry about its propriety.

      • Emaderton3 said

        I did try recently to ask about this very issue but without a response. Overall, I have not had success contacting this PO (no responses to emails except once when I wanted to talk about my summary statement). I will give it a bit of time since the review is not for a while. Thanks!

      • Emaderton3 said

        So the original PO was assigned again.

        Another question related to this R01 resubmission. I looked at the roster of the study section, and it appears that only about 1/3 of the people that were on it before when my first submission was reviewed are on this study section again to review my resubmission. Does this tend to work in my favor or against me? Or is there no trend?

      • writedit said

        If one of your primary reviewers (vs the third reviewer/reader) is still on the panel, you should be in good shape (SRO likely to reassign). If you feel like the new third of reviewers have expertise that takes the study section in a slightly different direction/emphasis, then the discussion could bring up new points of concern … but there’s nothing you can do about that now. Of course, if any of the new reviewers are likely to be interested in your science, then this certainly works in your favor. Hopefully you will have a fundable score as your outcome, but if not, you should look over the new panel carefully and perhaps talk with the SRO (and your PO, if she’ll answer) about whether you should consider migrating to a different SRG if the application needs to go in again – assuming there is another study section with overlapping interests.

      • Emaderton3 said

        Thanks as always for your input!

      • Emaderton3 said

        Got my score and summary statement for the A1. The summary statement says that some of the strengths of my resubmission were the innovative hypothesis and resolving prior reviewers critiques. Yet, my score did not improve very much and is not in the fundable range (or probably not even select pay unless I am extremely lucky). From the way the summary statement is written, it appears that I may have had 3 new reviewers. I looked at the roster, and of the 40 members, only 13 were on the study section for the review of the A0!!! Some of the primary concerns of the A1 were things that I had to change in response to the A0 critique. One reviewer had large issues with innovation but overlooked many novel biological things. I am thinking that I may have picked the wrong study section since I sent the same grant to a private foundation that was reviewed by a group with completely different expertise and did very well.

      • writedit said

        Sorry to hear this. You should certainly talk with your PO. If she remains enthusiastic about the work, then she may recognize the review difficulties and push for select pay or perhaps an R56 (one year of bridge funding to collect data for resubmission). If you need to resubmit, then you can also ask your PO for advice on switching study sections (she likely attends any SRGs to which you might send your application and might know which culture best fits with your science) and on preparing the new proposal.

      • Emaderton3 said

        Another overdue update. I had an excellent conversation with my P.O. who also came to the conclusion that perhaps the study section that reviewed my proposal was not the greatest fit. My P.O. also said that I had a very interesting grant that she really liked and would consider supporting it for selected pay. She said that she would probably have more questions closer to council meeting time that she may need answered to support her position for possibly funding it. That was about three months ago. Since many of my mentors have said that the POs usually ask for a rebuttal letter, I have tried contacting her via email several times to ask if she had any further questions. I have not heard back, and council meeting is this week. So, I guess I wait . . .

      • writedit said

        I am really happy that when your PO responds, she does so fully – and that she is a sufficient advocate to push for select pay. Many POs want a rebuttal, but discussions about select pay (at which a rebuttal might be important) often don’t take place until after Council – depends on the IC. Your PO might have taken notes during your conversation and felt up to answering any questions that might be raised internally, too (i.e., realized she did not have more questions). Hopefully you’ll hear from her, hopefully with good news, within a couple weeks of the Council meeting.

      • Emaderton3 said

        I just checked eRA Commons and saw something I had never seen before. There are now two council dates and times listed which weren’t there just a few days ago. One was yesterday which I was aware of, but another was back in December. What is the significance of 2 dates if any?

      • writedit said

        Just means someone is updating your account, now that they’re paying attention as your award is processed. NCI and NHLBI have 4 Council meetings per year, and actually NCI has had 5 in recent years, sometimes combining the NCAB & Board of Scientific Advisors (oversee intramural program) but no review of extramural grant applications.

      • Emaderton3 said

        What do you mean by processed?

      • writedit said

        Sorry – my bad. I answered from email without looking on the blog to see which application this was in reference to (I had thought the one you had JIT for). Someone did update your account, but in relation to the NCAB meeting being completed versus as part of processing your JIT. You still might hear about this application in the next few weeks, too, though. Fingers crossed.

      • Emaderton3 said

        I completely overlooked that I would need an approved animal protocol for JIT. It would be helpful if I knew I was getting one!

      • writedit said

        Note to all: if you get a score that could be fundable (especially if your PO is encouraging), take steps to obtain necessary approvals (IACUC, IRB, etc.) then rather than wait for Council. This is especially true for the final round of reviews and for any applications being held for possible select pay at the end of the FY – you cannot wait to get these approvals or you may be passed over for an award (ICs must wrap everything up by Sept).

      • Emaderton3 said

        How often are select pay grants awarded before the end of the FY but during the cycle in which they were reviewed if an earlier one?

      • writedit said

        I don’t know, but I expect most wait until the end of the FY, since program would want to give all beyond payline applications equal consideration for the limited pool available to fund them. Applications with very high priority science that they know they will fund no matter what would be funded earlier in the FY. Some ICs, like NIGMS, consider and discuss a wider range of percentiles each funding cycle, so the scoring outliers from this broader pool that might still get picked up would wait til the end of the FY, having had their chance during their Council cycle. This would be the case for NCI and NIMH discussion of applications from the 10th to 20th percentile (if not funded that cycle, not considered again until the end of the FY).

  101. SJ said

    Does anyone know about EOY funding for DP2 grants? My DP2 was transferred from OD to an IC (a good sign!), and I was sent an email saying it was being considered for EOY funding. That was early Aug, and no word since then. The RFA says NoAs would go out in August, but only 2 biz days left in August. Is it possible they are pushing this to Sept?

    • writedit said

      Awards can be made up until Sept 30th, so don’t worry about the date – until you start bumping up against the 30th. If you haven’t heard anything by Sept 15, you could contact the PO at the IC to see if you are still under consideration (depends on how far the $ goes).

  102. sand said

    Hi, may I know your score of DP2? Thanks. I’m also waiting for the notice.

  103. Mike Graham said


    My R01 was reviewed June 9, 2014 and scored 5%, NIH/NCI. When should I expect to hear about a NOA?

    Thank you,

    • writedit said

      Congratulations on the exceptional score. Because we probably won’t have a federal budget in place until next year, you probably won’t receive a NoA in December. Your score might be low enough to be funded during the continuing resolution, but if NCI is especially conservative, your award would be delayed until the FY15 appropriation is final, hopefully by early 2015.

      • Mike Graham said

        Many thanks for your prompt reply writedit!

  104. tcgal said

    i am in the process of starting a competing renewal application to NCI. This was the only policy i could find related to budget and competing renewal caps for NCI.

    https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-CA-08-026.html – but its old (2008) — is there anything newer?

    anyone here familiar with the competing renewal mechanism for NCI? any insights are appreciated.

    • writedit said

      You are still limited to a 10% increase over your last annual direct cost amount, if that is your question. You can ask your PO if you are eligible for a waiver, but this is extremely rare (I do not know of any). If you need more than a 10% increase in budget to pursue your new aims, you will likely need to submit a new Type 1 application rather than a Type 2 (competing renewal).

      • LIZR said

        Just for further clarification – the 10% increase rule at NCI applies to the amount of direct costs that was awarded rather than your original requested R01 budget? These days at some Institutes it is not unusual to have R01 budgets cut by 10-20% from the initial budget request. If your initial R01 is cut by 20%, and you can only request 10% more than you were actually awarded then you would have to request less money in your renewal than in your original R01 application! Given inflation, this does not seem viable over the long term. Perhaps this is one more reason why it may be better to submit a new R01 rather than submit a renewal in certain cases?

      • writedit said

        The 10% is based on the final year NoA, not what you requested in your application. And yes, for most investigators, submitting a new R01 (or P01 or other renewable mechanism) is the best (only) strategy if they are increasing the scope of the research.

      • LIZR said

        But the problem with that policy is that if NCI cuts the awarded budget for consecutive renewals by 10% or more, then it is impossible to keep up with inflation, even if you keep the scope of the work the same. This year it looks like NCI is cutting most budgets on new R01s by 17%. Therefore if you request directs of $300K -> the final NOA you can expect to get $249K (assuming no additional cuts). For your renewal you could only request $274K. Assuming modest inflation, $274K would keep you about steady in terms of buying power, but if NCI makes any cut to the renewal you will not be keeping up with inflation.

      • writedit said

        Absolutely correct, and NCI recognizes this (as do other ICs with similar renewal budget caps).

  105. arj77 said

    I have a question as a new/early stage investigator desperately searching for funding in this tough environment. My mentor comes from the old school of thought, and is adamant that an R03 is the appropriate mechanism for someone like myself. Once I get the R03, I can try for an R01. Following his advice, I have applied for two R03s, but neither have been funded (Both received scores, one of which would have been fundable a couple years ago). However, many of my colleagues, who are younger, believe that I should go directly for the R01 – especially considering how small funds for an R03 are. Do you have any advice on this? Also, as an ESI/NI, how much preliminary data is necessary for an R01 application? I am frustrated with the R03s – especially since the payline (for my institution, NIAMS) remains low for R03 but has increased for R01. I really appreciate your perspective on this. I apologize if this is not the correct forum. Thanks!

    • writedit said

      This is absolutely the right forum for this sort of question. Actually, the NIH would rather NI/ESI applicants go for the R01, which is the only mechanism that allows for payline breaks – plus it can be renewed, which, if you’ve been productive, generally has a higher success rate than new applications (this assumes the budget limitations imposed by some ICs on competing renewals won’t be a problem for you). You do need preliminary data to apply for an R01, though, again, the study section will review new/ESI applications separate from applications by established investigators, so you won’t be held to the same preliminary data standard (in theory, if not in practice). If you were proposing a mini-R01 as your R03, that doesn’t work. R03s are meant for developing or characterizing an experimental model through which you collect preliminary data for an R01 or any other necessary work in preparation for an R01 or in response to a very focused question (perhaps posed by a funding announcement). NIAMS saves their R03 budget for career development awardees who need more $ in their final K years to obtain preliminary data for an R01 application. If you do not have an NIAMS K award, you should probably communicate with the R03 PAR PO as to whether you would be the sort of applicant NIAMS would fund even if your score were competitive. My guess is that he/she will advise you to go for the R01, which would be my advise as well – and to identify the best NIAMS PO for your science now to get advice as you develop the application.

  106. jms said

    The council review for my R21 application was completed on 09/17/2014 (impact 30, IC NIDCR). When should I expect to learn about the funding decision ?

    • writedit said

      Because this would be at best a gray zone score (though maybe not at NIDCR), you won’t know about funding likelihood until some time next year, after the federal budget for FY15 has been signed into law. With the mid-term elections, the best-case scenario would be in December (the continuing resolution funds the government through Dec 15), but possibly not until early next year, after the new Congress starts. Once you see (in the news) that a federal budget has been enacted, wait a few weeks, and then check in with your PO for an update. The FY15 payline should be about the same as FY14, so in the meantime, you could ask what the FY14 R21 payline was – and for advice (based on the review panel discussion, assuming the PO attended the meeting) on submitting a revised application, which you should certainly do (for November, if you get the summary statement back in time).

  107. jms said

    Forgot to mention in my previous post: thank you so much for maintaining such an informative blog. I follow it very regularly (though I have posted a question for the first time !). Thank you !

  108. starfish123 said


    I’m curious if anyone has any insight into my situation. I initially submitted an F32 to the NICHD in 2012, it was unscored.

    A1 went in April 2014. Impact score 26, 13th percentile. Summary statement indicated “high training potential” and “strong enthusiasm.” PO indicated it was a good score but I needed to wait for council meeting in September for a final decision.

    After council meeting last week, a followup email indicates that the grant will not be funded but I was encouraged to reapply. Historic pay lines for the last 3 years show pay lines in low 20s-high teens.

    No explanation for why it wasn’t funded. Did the pay line drop that much this year? Am I missing something? Nothing has been updated on the commons status page.

    • writedit said

      Fellowship applications don’t go to Council formally, but it could be they needed Council’s input on a broader scale prior to making final FY14 awards (FY14 ends next Tues), and they didn’t make it down the paylist to yours. This is good news that you were encouraged to apply again, though You should ask your PO how you can strengthen your new application to shave off a few more points.

      • starfish123 said

        what exactly does it mean to not make it down the pay list to mine? is that list ordered by percentile score? alphabetically? submission date?

        in other words, would improving the score (if possible, summary statement didn’t offer too many suggestions that would substantially improve grant) even matter or is this just bad luck on my part because my name is in the second half of the alphabet?

      • writedit said

        No, the ICs rank applications by priority (based on score, programmatic interests, internal discussion) to create paylists (better described by Jeremy Berg when he was Director of NIGMS: http://loop.nigms.nih.gov/2011/01/the-funding-decision-process/). For a fellowship application in particular, getting advice and input from the PO on how to improve the proposal is important, since the funding decisions are guided by impact scores but with internal discussion as well. Hopefully your PO attended the study section meeting and can provide suggestions based on how the discussion of your application went and the culture of the panel overall.

  109. Meiopic said

    I am preparing a DP2 application for the October 17th deadline and checked this years recipients today. Did NIH really only award 15 of these grants? Usually they select 30 – 40. Or will some be picked up after the budget is finalized.

    Thanks for this very useful resource!

    • writedit said

      I don’t see a news release yet for FY14. If you are checking RePORTER, there is some lag time in adding awards, so you might check in the next week for an announcement about the 2014 awardees. Announcements for a few big programs are late, such as the BD2K Centers.

      • Meiopic said

        Yep – they gave 50 the rest were posted today. Thanks!

  110. Jeff said

    Does anyone have experience with the NIH late policy? My grants and contracts department was overstretched and submitted my R01 application last minute today (4:40). I just got an error message in that my eCommons ID was incorrectly entered and thus my application was considered incomplete. I am a new investigator on a K so the timing of this grant going off is ultra critical for me. Anyone have any advice on what my options are and thoughts about how to avoid waiting until next cycle?

    • writedit said

      This is why the NIH recommends submitting at least 2 days before the deadline. The policy and rules exist to maintain a level playing field, so exceptions are not made for routine errors. You could ask your PO, but essentially, this is just a tough lesson to learn.

  111. sean said

    Does anyone know the funding range for NIDDK K01/K08/K23 R03 grants? The success rate is high, but there is no data on percentile. Only priority scores are provided.

    • writedit said

      Your PO should be able to tell you how competitive your score is. There is a limited pool of applicants, so higher scores are likely funded, and I suspect there is some program flexibility.


  112. Hannah said

    Dear Writedit,
    My R01 was “not discussed” at NCI study section so I have no priority score, and don’t have summary statement yet. I just noticed that the JIT link in commons is active.
    I am an ESI and NI for this submission.
    Do you have any idea what this might suggest? It seems odd!
    Thank you!

    • writedit said

      This suggests nothing about your application (you still need to rework the proposal and resubmit, probably as an A0 rather than as an A1, given the lack of score and discussion). The JIT link in eRA Commons is always open for any active application and should be ignored. eRA Commons generates automated JIT requests (email) for applications with a priority score of 40 or less, but these should be ignored, too. Only a direct request from the IC (PO or GMS) indicates the possibility of an award, and these requests come around the Council meeting or after, closer to when an award might be made (not just after study section meets).

  113. thoughtful said

    I’m an ESI and NI seeking some feedback about which mechanism to submit to. I was the recipient of a NIDA F31 and I have no other NIH submissions to date. I am now in a tenure track position. I was planning to submit a new grant application through the R03 mechanism (NIDA or NIAAA) but I am hearing a good deal by word of mouth about ESI and NI going straight for an R01 in order to protect enough time to dedicate to a new research agenda. The grant idea I am working on can be scaled accordingly. I am not currently planning on submitting a K award so this does not need to be factored into the timing.

    Are ESI/NI required to have preliminary data in R01 submissions? Have others been hearing this? For the experienced grant writers, what would you consider before making this decision?

    Thank you!

    • writedit said

      You should only apply for the R03 if you need to refine an experimental model or collect very specific data in support of an R01-level project. $50K/y for 2 years cannot be used as a mini-R01, it can’t be renewed, and you get no payline break (only with R01). The R03 is not a “starter” award and does not make you more likely to subsequently obtain R01 funding (see last paragraph in Background at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-013.html). You do need preliminary data for an R01 though. I would suggest that you talk with POs at both institutes about your ideas and whether you would be better off going for some small project funds (R03) to get preliminary data or prepping for an R01 submission. Also ask about study sections, if you haven’t started to think about that yet.

  114. pom4pom said


    I have a different question.

    I am a current PI on an R21 grant from NIDA, it is a infra-structure building between US and MIC. We have good preliminary data. We plan to submit an R01 due this January, however the mechanism that we plan to submit to requires a collaboration between US and MIC again, sadly I moved to Canada, so I can not be the PI for this R01. My co-investigator agrees to be the PI but he will be submitting another R01 in collaboration with another foreign institute with different research focus (different country) on the same funding mechanism.

    I am wondering how NIH view one PI with 2 grants on the same mechanism and might be in the same review committee.

    thanks for your comments.

    • writedit said

      The reviewers would be instructed not to mention or consider the other application when discussing the first (and vice versa). Each would (should) be discussed on its own merits. Your co-investigator should talk with the PO to see if NIDA would fund him on both awards – the projects would need to be sufficiently different (and I assume they would be), so he’s not getting paid twice for the same work.

    • pom4pom said

      thanks for your comments, this will targeting MIMH and NICHD for one grant and NIDA in another.

      • writedit said

        Aha. The POs would all still want to be sure there wasn’t overlap in his end of the projects, in case both were considered for an award (would come up at JIT time). With the different ICs involved, I assume not though.

  115. brendamcc said

    Hi all, we received a score that put us in the 16th percentile with NIGMS. Does anyone know how likely it is that the proposal will be funded?

    • writedit said

      You should have a reasonably good chance at funding, but when you get your summary statement, you will definitely want to be in touch with your PO, who will play an important role in promoting your application at paylist meetings at which applications are ranked for funding. Your PO may be interested in any responses you have to the major criticisms (in the Resume & Summary of Discussion), and if you have any new publications, this would be good news to pass along as well.

  116. Frank said

    Hi all,

    My R21 A1 received a score that is in the 13th percentile with NIMH. Does anyone know how likely the proposal will be funded?

    • writedit said

      Likely, but you can check in with your PO for advice on next steps (resubmit, write a brief response to the critique, sit tight) when you have your summary statement.

  117. greenPI said

    Hello Writedit,
    I have a 2 part question regarding R01’s. I’m a ESI/NI and received a score just outside the NIDDK payline. However, the PO is going to recommend a R56. Is there any information out there on how to prepare an R56 for the PO. I realize the PI doesn’t submit the R56 but the PO still requested a 2 page response by me. Also, a JIT request by email arrived today (summary statement arrived 2 weeks ago) for the R01. Is that indicative of anything?
    Thanks again for the great resource!

    • writedit said

      The JIT email is automatically generated for any application with a priority score of 40 or below and does not mean anything. Only a JIT request from a PO and/or GMS reflects actual interest in your application.

      You do not need to do anything for the R56 – there is no application at all. It sounds like your PO is asking you for a response to the concerns raised in the Resume and Summary of Discussion from your summary statement. However, the R56 is a 1-year mechanism, so he could also be asking you to describe which of your aims you would pursue to get data to strengthen your R01 application. You should ask your PO for clarification as to whether he wants you to respond to the prior review or describe what you would aim to accomplish with one year of bridge funding (it is not renewable, so definitely just one year) – probably essentially what you had planned to do the first year of your R01, though perhaps tweaked to ensure you had everything you needed for a competitive R01. The funding level is roughly the same as a year of your R01 (i.e., not an R03-sized substitute). The PO might want both – a short response to the review and a revised one-year research plan (based on the R01 you submitted).

  118. parc said

    The first submission of my R21 (NICHD) received a 16th percentile. Upon receiving the summary statement, I emailed the PO to set up a meeting to discuss the statement and the next steps. No response to email after more than a week, so I called. I got the PO on the phone, and we scheduled a meeting to discuss the grant. The PO missed the meeting (i.e., did not answer the phone at the appointed time). Any advice for whom to contact next? Or how to interact with the non-responsive PO?NIMH is listed as secondary on the application.

    • writedit said

      You won’t want to contact anyone at NIMH (they do not become involved unless NICHD relinquishes the application and unless they are very interested in picking up your application – any of this must start with your PO). If you did not send the non-answering PO an email after the missed phone call, you should start there, and then try another phone call. If he doesn’t answer either after another week or so, then you might check with the Branch Chief (for whichever Branch your application is assigned) to see if something is going on with your PO that you don’t know about – just a brief polite note indicating your concern that the PO missed a scheduled communication and has not respond and requesting advice on what to do next. POs are incredibly busy and have their own personal lives, and recent hires may need some mentoring as they adjust to their new role. Always be patient and give them the benefit of the doubt, but asking for advice from someone else in the branch or division is appropriate at a certain point.

      • parc said

        Thanks for the advice! This is a first for me, as I have always received a prompt response from PO’s at other institutes, e.g., NIMH where most of my grants are funded. I did leave a voicemail and sent an email after the missed call. I will wait awhile to see if the PO gets back to me. If not, I will touch base with the Branch Chief as you suggest.

      • writedit said

        If you have a good relationship with your PO at NIMH, you might also explain your situation and ask him/her about the NICHD PO. Often they do not know each other, but if the science is similar, they might, and in that case, your NIMH PO might be able to give advice on making contact (still can’t take the application without the NICHD PO involvement) or might be able to suggest a different PO to contact in the meantime (for advice – application stays with assigned PO). Did you request assignment to NICHD (rather than NIMH)?

      • parc said

        I do have a good relationship with my NIMH PO, but didn’t want to breach any protocols (which is why I solicited advise from this awesome resource). I may contact her for advice given our preexisting relationship. In the cover letter, I listed both ICs.

      • writedit said

        Asking to move the application would be out of line (at least right now) – asking if she knows what might be up with your PO and/or has suggestions for an alternative contact is fine. She might also suggest some next steps to consider. 16th percentile is a little high but not out of reach certainly.

      • parc said

        Yes, right now I was only hoping to get some advice about next steps rather than asking about moving the application to NIMH. I am anticipating having to submit a revision given the score, so feedback from the PO who heard the discussion was something I was eager to hear. My plan is to wait a few days to see if I hear from the NICHD PO, and then approach others. I appreciate your advice about who those others should be and what to interact with them about.

  119. f32er said

    I am in the 13 percentile for my NINDS F32 – any idea what my chances are of getting funded? (Is it a sure thing/borderline?) Thanks!

    • writedit said

      That should at least be borderline and hopefully within their funding range. When you get your summary statement, check in with the PO about funding likelihood and next steps. At that point, the PO will know whether any concerns raised by reviewers can be addressed by you in a brief rebuttal when NINDS considers your application.

  120. Trashed K99 said

    Just a note to future K99 applicants about my experience. K99 (1st and only submission) triaged after Reviewer 1 stated that my postdoc publication record (including a 1st author paper in eLife and 2nd author paper in Science) was too meager to compete for the award. Happily none of the other reviewers shared this opinion, but it was enough to kill my application. Given how hard it seems to be to get a job without one of these it looks like Reviewer 1 has officially put my career on life support!

    • IntraNIA said

      K99 A1 applicant here. In the Candidate section, A0 and A1 reviewers only commented on my publication quantity rather than quality. It could be the section (NIA review), but I found that telling. Comparatively, my ‘best’/highest IF journal is a 1st author in Alzheimer’s and Dementia (high-tier Neurology journal).

      It is surprising that they did not take note of the Science paper.

    • LIZR said

      A K99 can give you a critical boost to be sure, but the relative importance of having a K99 varies widely at different departments and different institutes. My impression is that K99s are much more important at medical schools or extremely biomed focused departments at R1 universities. University biology departments that include a wider range of disciplines may put less emphasis on having a K99. If you don’t have a K99, being awarded any kind of postdoctoral fellowship (federal or private) can demonstrate that you can effectively compete for research dollars.

    • TGS said

      I agree it must be very dependent on the study section. I had one first author postdoc paper on my K99 submission (submitted last year) in a journal that is good for the field, but low impact factor generally, and the reviewers didn’t say anything negative about my publication record.
      Regarding the job search, I was offered a position at an R1 before the K99 was official, and hadn’t said anything to the University about the fact that I applied and it was likely going to be funded.

    • writedit said

      Lots of good thoughts and input here about K99 and job search outcomes. Thanks to everyone joining in the conversation.

      First, one reviewer’s concern with publication record is not enough to kill a K99 application. Any reviewer can ask to discuss any application, so if your other reviewers had been surprised that your application wasn’t being discussed (& thought it should be), one or both could have asked to discuss it. Even if you cannot resubmit your K99 due to timing issues, you can still communicate with the PO about how to use reviewer input to prepare for a different K mechanism or an R mechanism application; even though the PO cannot provide feedback on a discussion that did not take place, he/she can provide good perspective on the reviews and your proposal. If you do not see any other clues in the summary statement as to why none of the reviewers wanted to discuss your application (either by giving a competitive preliminary score and/or asking for it to be discussed anyway), then your PO’s third-party perspective might be good to have. Since the review group is within the IC rather than at CSR, your PO would also know the panel well and what they are looking for (in all Ks, not just K99s).

      On the academic side, some search committees do limit themselves to (or highly focus on) applicants with K99 funding, which means they are letting the IC study section do their screening for them. I personally think those that take this approach are incredibly short sighted, especially since so many ICs make fewer than 5 awards per year. The likelihood of one of these awardees aligning with the faculty needs of a particular department seem slim. Search committees that look for similar qualifications as those displayed by K99 awardees (e.g., publication record, creative research ideas, solid training & skill set) are likely more common. As LIZR, TGS, and SCG note, the department and school are probably big factors in determining the importance of high impact or high numbers of publications (but obviously any search committee wants to see that you shepherded an entire independent project of your own to completion, including publication).

      At BICO, my favorite story of a recommendation letter was all of one sentence: “I don’t know what will be doing in 5 years, but I know it will be good.” ( turned out to be one of the best postdocs this researcher ever had) Such a simple strong vote of confidence from the right person can make all the difference, and as SCG notes, being seen and heard is critical to get your application out of the pile and onto an interview list. The same intangible benefit can also be true for grant applications (i.e., reviewers have seen/experienced the science being presented by the applicant at a meeting, to have a sense of both the science and the person).

      • Trashed K99 said

        Thanks for the comments everyone. As many of you guessed, it’s the 4 year cap that prevents me from resubmitting.

        In my case, I got 1’s and 2’s with a 3 for my mentor/collaborators from Reviewer 2 and 1’s and 2’s from Reviewer 3. Reviewer 1, however, gave me a 6 (ouch!) because of my publication record. I appreciate that in theory it’s possible that anyone can ask for an application to be discussed. In practice, I would guess that Reviewers 2 and 3 probably just had enough other high scoring applications that they didn’t want to get into a fight with Reviewer 1 over this.

  121. SCG said

    I’d like to say a few things here to hopefully be a little bit encouraging to people who find themselves in this situation. For really quick background- I’m finishing my time as a postdoc. I applied for faculty jobs last year and was happy to get an offer at a place I’m really excited about, and I start my position in the new year. I have a K99 (soon transitioning to an R00).
    1. I assume in your case you aren’t resubmitting because you’ve exceeded the 4 year time limit (I’m not a fan of the new shorter time limit), but if the reason you aren’t resubmitting is that it was triaged, my K99 was also triaged in the A0, also due mainly to my publication record (my main story had not yet been published). My A1 was funded because I was able to address that concern, and also through making major changes to the proposal itself (which I came to see were needed once I got over being annoyed at the reviewers), and submitting the A1 to a different IC with their prior approval. So its totally possible to go from triaged to funded for the K99.
    2. While I don’t need to tell anyone that it is very hard to get an academic position in the current climate, I will say that you do not need a K99 to get a job, so I don’t think your career is on life support because of this. I know it sounds all very well and good for me to say that, but for example: the department I’m joining made 2 hires in the last round- my fellow new hire does not have a K99. Nor did any of the of other junior faculty in the department, all hired since the mechanism started in 2006. Nor do most of the other new hires in other similar departments at my university. And I was passed over for other jobs in favor of candidates that didn’t have K99s. Its true that K99 awardees have a high success rate in finding jobs (correlation and causation are hard to tease apart there though), but the converse that if you don’t have one you will have a much harder time finding a job, all other things being equal, just doesn’t seem true to me.
    3. So what can help if the K99 doesn’t pan out that is actually under your control? In my case I think networking really helped me as much as, if not more than, having the K99. I don’t think this gets talked about much when we’re giving job search advice, and I’m honestly surprised to say how big a difference it made for me, given that I’m fairly reserved and never thought of myself as good at networking. Having someone on the search committee who knows you/has met you/saw you give a talk can help you go from the pile of 30 people with strong CVs to the interview list. I got at least a couple interviews that way, and definitely the job I ultimately accepted. So focus on going to as many meetings as is reasonable, and do whatever you can to get to give a talk. Also get in touch with grad school classmates who’ve gotten jobs who you respected and who you think respect your work, etc etc. Again, I was surprised to see how well this worked for me. In addition to the obvious of doing the best science you can, its something you can take action on still. Good luck!

  122. NewPI said

    I am a new PI ready to submit 1st R01. I am ESI eligible; will I lose ESI status if I add a senior person as a Co-I?

    • writedit said

      You can have senior investigators as co-investigators (senior/key personnel) without any impact on your ESI status, but if you apply with both of you as PIs via the Multiple PI option, then the application will not receive ESI consideration during review or for paylines (& if funded, you would lose your ESI status – but you’d be funded).

  123. David said

    Does anyone know how the new 4 year rule with K awards applies if your defense/graduation date fell around a resubmission deadline? I.e. submitted K award in June, got scores back in November was planning on resubmitting for March resubmission deadline but that falls after my 4 year mark (Feb. 28). Was planning on submitting all information prior to Feb. 28 four year date, but when I talked to PO was told I can’t do resubmission deadline because it is after my four mark. Anyone else run into this issue or been told otherwise? I’ve heard in past if you had a deadline that fell before resubmission you could still submit as long as first submission came before deadline. Thanks.

    • writedit said

      I assume you mean a K99 application. Yes, you must be within 4 years on the date the application is due (i.e., March 12) – not the date you choose to upload the application to grants.gov/NIH eRA Commons (e.g., Feb 28):

      Postdoctoral candidates who have terminal clinical or research doctorates (or equivalent doctoral degrees) and who have no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research training at the time of initial application receipt date, or subsequent resubmission(A1) are eligible to apply. What is meant by “at the time of initial application or subsequent resubmission?” This means that, regardless of whether the application is New or a Resubmission (A1) application, the applicant must have fewer than 4 years of postgraduate research experience at the application due date. For example, if an applicant is within the 4 years of eligibility at the time of the initial application due date, but not within the 4 years of eligibility at the time of resubmission, he/she is no longer eligible to apply for the PI award, and may not resubmit the application. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/QsandAs.htm#1601

  124. SCG said

    For my K99 I was able to use the date I started my postdoc training as the marker ( that is actually what the rules reference- though this was under the prior 5 year rules) as opposed to when my phd was conferred. May vs July of the same year in my case and the let me resubmit for a july 15 deadline vs my july 1 postdoc start date. So some ICs may be a little flexible. There is someone listed for each IC somewhere who set their specific policy on this. I forget what the title is off the top of my head. That is who okd it in my case. So I’d find and email them in addition to the PO just to check. You may be able to get just enough wiggle room to resubmit.

    • writedit said

      The NIH has tightened the rules on eligibility in the most recently reissued K99-R00 announcement. In the early years of the program, ICs had a lot of flexibility. As far as I know, though, the date on which the PhD is issued starts the clock for both ESI and K99 eligibility, unless you formally get an extension – but it is certainly worth asking the K99 PO at your target IC for confirmation/clarification.

  125. citizensci said

    I have been in contact with two PO’s for the past year about my applications. This round, I replied to a PAR, and spoke with the PO listed as the contact PO for NIMH about 2 months prior to the deadline about my project. I also spoke with a different PO in the same office about a different grant application and notified them of my intent to submit this new one. After submission, I emailed them, “I submitted in response to PAR, indicated so-and-so in the cover letter. I plan to submit another new one in May that’s related to the past one that wasn’t funded from Sept’s cycle.” My application was sent to the SS that I expected, but the PO who is assigned is neither of the individuals that I have been in contact with or the listed contact PO on the PAR. Should I say something? Should I be concerned? Does this mean they think it’s not going to get a good score or be funded?

    • writedit said

      You do not need to be concerned at all. You might let the POs with whom you have had contact know that a different PO was assigned and ask whether one of them should have the application. Sometimes they don’t know (or notice) that your application was assigned to someone else (they are all communicating with hundreds of PIs), sometimes their portfolios are being realigned & redistributed, especially if a new PO has been hired. If you really want one of them, and that PO is appropriate, the application can probably be moved. Better to ask now than later, though. Just know that the assignment does not at all reflect the quality of your application or their interest in it.

      • Citizensci said

        Thank you! As you probably know, every deviation from expectations can ring alarm bells for the young & hopeful.

  126. Hopeful said

    I submitted an R21 in June which was sent to NICHD and scored in the 11th percentile. I believe the score is slightly above the pay line …any chance that because the application was in response to a PA that it will be pushed through? Council met last week and although I contacted my PO, he hasn’t responded with any updates. Any advice for what to do at this point? I’ve already submitted the A1 which should be reviewed next week.

    • Hopeful said

      Also ..my status indicates council review completed. If it’s on the path to funding I know that this will change to pending administrative review but if it’s not funded, will the status change?

      • writedit said

        Your eRA Commons status stays at Council review completed forever – or at least until the application is Administratively withdrawn in a few years (sooner if your A1 is funded). Your PO is probably waiting to reply until he has some information to pass along, which he might not have yet – or he may be waiting to see what happens with the A1. No matter what happens with your A1, this A0 remains under consideration (even if the A1 scores higher). If the A1 scores as well or better, though, the PO might push for funding sooner rather than later. If your A1 score goes up significantly, you should wait until you get the summary statement to get in touch with him. He still might be able to help with the A0, but he’d need to see what the reviewers said.

  127. Hopeful said

    Thanks! Does the fact that the application was in response to a PA provide any advantage when funding decisions are being made?

    • writedit said

      No, timing is the same.


    • Hopeful said

      The A1 scored in the 6th percentile which is less than 9th percentile posted payline so hopefully I should be good to go?!?! Also, I just noticed that my start date was erroneously set to be 9/1…can I change that to be sooner? If not does that start date still fall under FY2015?

      • writedit said

        Congratulations on the exceptional score, which (barring an unforeseen administrative issue) should certainly get an award. Your PO might look more kindly on the A0, now, too (i.e., fund A0 rather than make you wait for A1, but ICs handle this in different ways, so that might not be an option). You can certainly ask to have the A1 start date corrected from Sept 1 to July 1 when you submit JIT – that is not an issue.

  128. Leah said

    Hoping for some guidance:
    I submitted an F31 in Aug ’14 to NICHD.
    Received an impact score of 22 (9th percentile) in Nov. ’14.
    NICHD council met on Jan. 21st, established their payline for F31s at 11th percentile.
    My application status still says ‘SRG Review Completed’ (as of 2/2/14). Any idea on when I might hear either way about my application? Or guidance on when I should think about contacting my PO?


    • writedit said

      Fellowships don’t go to Council, which is why you don’t see “Council review completed”. Your PO can give you an idea of timing, if you would like a better idea of when to expect an award, but don’t worry about the delay. It takes a couple months after the budget is signed into law (Dec) before the ICs have their appropriation processed and ready to spend.

      • Leah said


  129. agus said


  130. whatthewhat? said

    Hey writedit, Longtime lurker, first time poster.

    June 2014: A0 submission of R01 (NCI; also New Investigator, but getting on toward the end of the tenure clock…)
    October 2014: 12% score
    Oct 2014 – Jan 2015: Discussions with PO that, while outside 9% payline, optimistic about ability to defend/justify up the pipeline. No need to resubmit.
    Feb 2015: notified by PO that an “internal reviewer” had sufficiently negative things to say about the proposal that PO decided not put forward proposal internally for further funding evaluation. Suggested resubmission, likely July. March was deemed “too soon”.

    Huh? The PO’s description of what comprised the “internal review” made it sound like a scientific review that was conducted by a single person not part of the study section. And PO said nothing about this as recently last week. And, unlike summary statements, I don’t have access to any of the internal review criticisms. Is this normal? Do I just take a deep breath, step back and resubmit while addressing the study section comments? Are there any other options?

    • writedit said

      This is not unusual: both that the PO was optimistic and then suddenly not (they really don’t know until select pay discussions start, which can’t start until after a budget is in place etc.) and that an internal review was involved in deciding whether to consider your application for pay by exception (above the payline). The internal review was by your PO’s Division or Branch chief, who makes decisions as to which applications scoring above the payline should be recommended to the IC Director for select pay awards based on programmatic interest. NCI also includes internal review by the SPLs (scientific program leaders), but your application didn’t make it that far. These decisions are based on what other work in your area is already funded (or being considered for funding) by NCI and whether NCI has a burning desire to see your project in their portfolio. The decision is not based on scientific merit (your study section did that) but on what is best for the Institute at that moment. Yours was being compared with all other applications scoring in the 10-15th percentile range – a huge range of science & scientific needs (vs your own niche as in the study section). Remember too that not all applications in the 10-15th percentile range even get considered for select pay, so it’s nice that you have your PO’s attention. The fact that your PO suggested July rather than March suggests some concern with preliminary data or feasibility perhaps – did you ask for more details on your resubmission strategy? (eg, do I need more preliminary data to make my case?). You’ll want to know that you are addressing both the reviewers’ scientific concerns and NCI’s programmatic concerns.

      • whatthewhat? said

        PO and I had a nice long discussion about what the internal reviewer’s main concerns were. PO recommended July for extensive “justification and rationale” additions and revisions. Also, moving Aim 3 to Aim 1 so that the logic flowed better, which would have knock-on effects regarding how and which things are subsequently discussed. The preliminary data didn’t seem to be the main issue. But seeing as how it will have been over a year since A0, we will certainly have more, including a recent additional publication.

        Thanks so much for the reply. And for the continuing insight into this process. It is extremely helpful (and comforting) to understand where these seemingly random decisions are coming from.

        I see you as this NIH Zen Master, absorbing unceasing waves of anxiety. Dispensing logic and calm. I will continue to refer to your comments sections as the NIH Koans.

      • writedit said

        You have a fantastic PO – really happy for you. I can see why the suggestion to wait until July rather than March. Submitting in Feb/March, unless you absolutely need to for tenure reasons or to avoid two applications in the same cycle (n’at), should never be a priority, since the federal budget process (or lack thereof) means the first cycle awards will never arrive on time and usually not until the second cycle awards (i.e., June/July submissions) are due. You’ll want to ensure the logic and experimental strategy is clear and compelling, and I bet you will find some new bits of the story to add. The publication will help, too.

        I am humbled at the thought of being an NIH Zen Master, so thank you. I strive to keep the blog as informative and supportive as possible for all involved (posters & lurkers), and I’m happy to help absorb some of the anxiety that has sadly become a fact of life in the biomedical research community. I often feel like my day job at BICO is one of being a research therapist.

      • Emaderton3 said

        What if your PO is a Program Director of a specific branch? Is it then their call to make as far as recommending an application to an IC Director?

      • writedit said

        Having the branch head advocate for your application definitely helps, but there is a group discussion still, whether, for example, among the SPLs at NCI or among Division staff at NIGMS. Not a direct line from branch/division head to the IC Director, that I know of.

  131. ISEEU said

    On commons website, it is said that “The NIH provides the JIT (Just in Time) link in the Commons for applications receiving a percentile of less than 30 or for applications receiving a priority score of between 10 and 60 if no percentile is provided. Please await instructions from the NIH on whether to complete this information”. I have an A1 application that was not discussed at this week’s study section and yet there is a JIT link for this proposal. I wonder why? Has anyone else seen this happening?

    • writedit said

      All applications have the link shown – it doesn’t mean anything (an automatic email is generated for all applications scored in that range in addition to the link being open – the automatic email also lacks significance).

  132. Jeff said

    Dear writedit,

    I just spoke to another early career investigator from another institution. Apparently the approach they employ there is to submit as many RO1’s as possible toward the end of a K award in hopes of securing more than 1 RO1 using the new investigator status. Per this person, you can submit unlimited number of RO1’s and as long as the person has new investigator status at the time of submission (i.e., don’t have award letter yet on prior submitted RO1) they can theoretically get several with the new investigator bump (per this person one of her coworkers got 3 RO1s this way).

    Two questions:
    1) Is this possible?
    2) What are the politics here?

    Clearly the spirit of the new investigator assistance is not to game the system getting multiple RO1’s with it simultaneously. If people do try to do this (and send to different study sections so it is not apparent which apparently is what they are doing) is there a way the reviewers would find out they have multiple grants pending and potentially negatively impact their score?

    Thanks so much,


    • writedit said

      Yes, it is possible and happens (someone posted on this blog about this), but I expect it is rare, and I expect those who succeed likely deserve the extra awards if they have enough preliminary data to support more than one R01 application in different scientific realms/study sections/ICs. That is, they probably would have gotten funded without the new investigator benefit. I have no problem with this as long as each application is strong and compelling – not submitted just to get something in for review. You don’t want to repeatedly send uncompetitive applications to the same study section that you will be going back to for many years to come. Although study section reviewers are told to evaluate each application independently, even when one PI has multiple applications in the same study section, you do not want to cause reviewer fatigue, especially not when you finally have a really good proposal to present. Now, on the IC side, different ICs will simultaneously fund new investigator proposals, but I am less sure how the same IC would handle this (though I assume the person receiving 3 R01s must have had at least 2 from the same IC), especially if the second R01 was scored after the first R01 was awarded, especially for ICs that do not use hard paylines. The science must still be compelling in both applications. That said, again, developing solid R01s covering different science for different SRGs and/or ICs is the best possible strategy for successful funding throughout your career, and there is no reason not to start that pattern at the very outset, during your K-funded years.

  133. Jeff said

    Dear Writedit,

    I just looked in commons and received an impact score (NHLBI, first A0 for an RO1) of 37 and a percentile of 16. I am a new investigator so 16th percentile would be fundable but seems like 37 is not commensurate with that type of percentile?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • writedit said

      The high score and lower percentile mean that your study section does a good job spreading scores. In newly recalibrated study sections, I have seen impact scores in the low thirties fall in the 6th percentile.

  134. Rockies_write said

    Dear writedit, thank you for all your advice here.

    RE: “Note to all: if you get a score that could be fundable (especially if your PO is encouraging), take steps to obtain necessary approvals (IACUC, IRB, etc.) then rather than wait for Council. This is especially true for the final round of reviews and for any applications being held for possible select pay at the end of the FY – you cannot wait to get these approvals or you may be passed over for an award (ICs must wrap everything up by Sept).”

    In a pending K23, I have a sub-project that is not scheduled to start until the 4th year of the award and will require IRB. Would I need IRB approval for the grant to start prior to an award being made (I have IRB for all other projects)?

    • writedit said

      No, you only need approval for projects in the first year. In any FY, funds will not be released until IRB or IACUC approval is obtained (whether the initial award or a subsequent noncompeting renewal).

      • IntraNIA said

        Brief follow-up question:

        Is approved with stipulations adequate, or is complete approval needed?

      • writedit said

        Not sure what the stipulations would entail. Your office of sponsored programs or research would be able to tell you if your IRB letter is sufficient for the award.

  135. Hopeful said

    Hi WritedIt, thank you for your great blog. It’s a wonderful resource. I just got my K99 impact score and according to my institute, it’s above the regular payline, but below the differential payline. What does this mean? What is a differential payline? I haven’t contacted my PO yet because I don’t have my reviews yet, so I can’t really ask him/her.

    • writedit said

      Which IC? There is no “differential” payline that I know of, unless you are referring to the new/ESI payline break given to PIs of R01 applications (no other mechanisms qualify). There is just one K99 payline for those that advertise a payline for that activity code (most do not).

      • Hopeful said

        NICHD, the phrasing is this: “The 2015 payline for competing K applications is Priority Score 16 with a differential payline for K99 applications of Priority Score 23.”

        Does that just mean there is a different payline for K99 awards compared to other K awards? So I would fall under the 23 instead of the 16? (I received a 22). Also, if I am under the payline in what scenarios (if any) would I not receive the award?

      • writedit said

        Yes, they just mean the payline for K99 is different from payline for the other K activity codes. Although many ICs have a lower payline for K99 applications (than other Ks), you are in luck in that yes, your score of 22 is within the payline of 23. As long as you will complete at least 1 year of the K99 portion, do not have duplicate funding for the work (e.g., a fellowship or other research grant), and have any necessary regulatory approvals, you should be in good shape. When you get your summary statement, you can ask your PO about timing, but you should be able to plan on the ~July start date. Congratulations!

    • Kera said

      Me too! My K99 to NICHD got a scroe within the payline of 23! It’s a resubmission and this is my last chance for K99.
      I still got a lot of criticisms this time (just receive the summary statement, it’s available in 10 days!). And the summary statement makes me feel that this resubmission somehow only fixes part of the issues but further raises other problems….

  136. AnonPI said

    Dear Writedit,
    My postdoc just found out that her K22 application to NIAID got an impact score of 25. This is right at the listed payline. This is good news, right?? Do K apps that meet the payline ever not get awarded?
    Thank you!

    • writedit said

      Yes, this is good news – paylines are up to and including the cut-off score, so unless there is some unforeseen administrative issue, her PO should have good news for her.

      • Kera said

        Dear Writedit,
        I got an impact score smaller than the cut-off score.
        However both my RCR and Vertebrate Animal sections are unacceptable (just got the summary statement yesterday)…
        Could these be the “unforeseen administrative issue” and kill my application?
        Thank you!

      • writedit said

        You will need to fix these to the PO’s satisfaction before an award can be made, but assuming you can address and rectify the concerns raised, you should still receive an award. If you are unclear as to how to fix the shortcomings, talk with your mentor and PO for advice.


  137. I spent 6 months in the lab full time, and resubmitted my F32. Received a score of 14 (6th percentile) on resubmission, submitted to NIAMS. The cutoff indicates 19, so I’m hopeful that they won’t revise lower, and if they do it won’t go lower than my score. I also realized how naive I was the first time I submitted this grant two years ago. It’s not near the K- or R-level award most people are talking about, but hopefully it’ll lead to more.

    • writedit said

      Congratulations on the excellent score! ICs set low interim paylines so they don’t risk having to lower them later. The payline will go up rather than down so you can rest secure about your score, though don’t expect the wheels of bureaucracy to turn quickly. Glad your hard work and experience paid off – best wishes for success with your research and your career in biomedical research.


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