Physician Staff Collaborate Conf Room

Grants & Contracts Office

NIH Grant Applications

Learn how to translate your research project to an NIH grant application. 

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Primary Resources

The NIH is one of the key federal agencies that supports research endeavors here at MCW. Additional information regarding NIH grant applications can be found on the NIH website’s How to Apply – Application Guide.

Additional Resources to reference:

View Your SF424 Application

It is possible to view the eBridge-generated SF424 forms of your NIH application before the FP is submitted to the Grants and Contracts Office.  It is not possible to view the entire application with all attachments as a single continuous document before it is assembled in eRA Commons.  There are no systems outside of Commons that are able to replicate the way an SF424 is assembled in its entirety.

If your NIH application is an eBridge-generated SF424, then you can view your application before it is submitted to the NIH by taking the following steps in eBridge:

  1. In the Funding Proposal Workspace, the PI, BS and PDA will have the activity “View SF424” under the My Activities list on the left-hand side of the screen.  Click this activity.
  2. After the SF424 pop-up window closes when it has finished generating, navigate to the SF424 Workspace.  In the Funding Proposal Workspace, in the middle of the screen under Submission to Sponsor, click on the link under Name that begins with “SF-424000…”.
  3. You will now be in the SF424 Workspace.  To view the SF424 forms, you can either click on View Grant Application on the left-hand side of the screen, or click on Print Version.  Using View Grant Application will allow you to see each SF424 form page separately; you can continue from SF424 page to page in order, or use the drop-down menu to jump to a different form.  If you select Print Version, you will be able to scroll through the entire SF424 to see the application in a single view.  In either version, you will be able to click on individual attachment links to open each as a PDF to review the various documents in your application.

After the Grants and Contracts Office submits your SF424 application to Grants.gov and it moves into eRA Commons, you will be able to (and need to) view your full application in that system.  The PI should log into eRA Commons, select the Status tab, then click on “Recent/Pending eSubmissions.” Here you will find your grant and be able to view the entire SF424 as the NIH reviewers will see it.

Review the NIH instructions on viewing the application in eRA Commons.

Review the NIH FAQs on viewing an assembled application in eRA Commons.

Early Stage Investigator

An Early Stage Investigator (ESI) is defined as an individual who is classified as a New Investigator and is within 10 years of completing his/her terminal research degree or is within 10 years of completing medical residence (or the equivalent).  An individual will be classified as a New Investigator if s/he has not previously competed successfully as a PD/PI for a substantial independent research award.  For example, a PD/PI who has previously received a competing NIH R01 is no longer considered a New Investigator but a PD/PI who has received a Small Grant (R03) or an Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) retains his or her status as a New Investigator.

View a complete list of NIH grants that do not disqualify a PD/PI from being considered a New Investigator.

The NIH determines your status as an ESI by relying on the data entered by you in your eRA Commons profile.  Please ensure to verify the accuracy of your eRA Commons profile, specifically the terminal research degree and end date of residency data fields.  If you are eligible for ESI status, this status and the end of your eligibility date will appear in your eRA Commons profile.  Thus, you do not need to indicate this status in your NIH application.  NIH does not determine an investigator’s eligibility by information provided in the SF424 application package.

View a complete rundown of NIH policies concerning New and Early Stage Investigators.

Multi-PI Applications

If there will be more than one person with the PI role on your NIH application, you will need to submit the application as a Multi-PI grant. One person will need to be designated as the Contact PI (who will have the “PD/PI” role); this is the individual whose name will appear on the SF424 application cover pages, whose institution will submit the grant, and who will be the contact PI for communications from the NIH. Each other individual who is going to be a PI needs to be assigned the role “PD/PI” in the SF424 Senior/Key Personnel form and, if applicable, the R&R detail budget. Each PD/PI will need to have an eRA 13. Commons account with the PI role, and will need to provide his or her Commons username in the application.

In eBridge, this means you will create and submit the Funding Proposal (FP) under the name of the Contact PI for the application. You will then need to assign the “PD/PI” role to every applicable individual listed on page B, question 1.0 in the FP, and enter the same role for them on page W in the budget. Do not assign the role “Co-PI” to these individuals, the NIH does not recognize that role (see the related FAQ on this list for more information).

A multiple-PI can be a faculty member from another institution; he or she would also be assigned the “PD/PI” role in the application (on page B question B3.0 in eBridge, and the same role assigned in the subcontract budget page W). A subcontract would need to be proposed in the application to cover this individual’s effort and any other costs at the consortium institution.

In your NIH application, you will need to include a Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan attachment, which explains the rationale for submitting with multiple PIs and describes the organizational structure of the leadership team. Refer to the specific instructions for this attachment in the SF424 R&R Application Guide, PHS398 Research Plan Form section.  In eBridge, attach the Leadership Plan in Q3.3 if it is a system-generated SF424 application.

For more detailed information on Multi-PI applications, refer to the MCW GCO Procedure Guide (PDF). For further NIH guidance and instructions, see the NIH guidance on Multiple Principal Investigators and the NIH FAQs related to Multiple Principal Investigators.

Biosketches for Additional Personnel

Non Key Personnel:
The NIH does not allow biosketches to be included in an application for non-Key Personnel.  Following instructions found on the top of the current NIH biosketch template will tell you that a biosketch is only needed when your intention is to: “Provide the following information for the Senior/Key personnel and Other Significant Contributors.” Please only include biosketches in an NIH application for those individuals identified as Key on the project.

Other Significant Contributors (OSC): The biosketch for an OSC can be added to a NIH application in the same way that it is added for a Senior/Key Person. OSCs should fall in order behind all Key Personnel. Please add all Senior/Key Persons first and then list the OSCs in alphabetical order. Add an OSC (or a Senior/Key Person) to your NIH application key personnel list by including the individual on eBridge question B1.0 or B3.0. If the SF424 is not being generated by eBridge, add the biosketches to PHS 398 form “Research & Related Senior/Key Personnel Profile.”

Unpaid Consultants:
At MCW, the role of an Other Significant Contributor (OSC) is commonly referred to as an “Unpaid Consultant.” If you are participating in a NIH funded project in a scientific advisory capacity, meaning you have no measurable effort and will not require any salary support from the project, please consider the role of OSC instead of “Unpaid Consultant.” Please see the NIH guidance for the definition of an Other Significant Contributor (OSC). If the NIH definition for OSC meets your need, please see the related FAQ answer above for how to add a biosketch to a NIH application for an OSC.

If you do not agree that the individual for which you are seeking this information should be considered an OSC by NIH definition, please contact the Grants and Contracts Office analyst who reviews and processes NIH applications for your department to discuss and identify the correct role for the person(s) in question.

Cover Letter Attachment

NIH Use:
NIH requires a Cover Letter attachment for the following reasons only:

  • You are submitting a late application.
  • You are submitting a video in support of your application.
  • You are planning to generate large-scale either human or nonhuman genomic data as part of a study.
  • Pre-approval is required for NIH to accept your application (e.g. Direct costs over $500K, submitting an R13 conference grant).
  • You are submitting your application using continuous submission status.

  • Your application has a subaward that is not active in all years of the project.

  • You are submitting a K-series application that requires a cover letter to list all referees.

GCO Reviews?
GCO will require that the Cover Letter attachment be used appropriately in all NIH applications.

PHS Assignment Request Form:
Applicants should utilize the PHS Assignment Request form when a requesting a specific institute/center for funding consideration, study section assignment for initial peer review, or to identify individuals you think should or should not review your application. This information should not appear in your cover letter.

Additional Resources: