Research Areas of Interest and Priorities
- What is extramural research?
- Is clinical research emphasized at NIAAA? Are there special awards to encourage clinical research and career development?
- Is research on health disparities a priority for NIAAA?
- How does NIAAA determine the research priorities and areas of research for which it desires to stimulate Research Project Grants (RPG) applications?
- How do I obtain copies of the NIAAA Strategic Plan, Extramural Subcommittee reports, and Plan to Address Health Disparities Initiatives?
- Does NIAAA support research in which human subjects participate?
- Where do I find information and advice on preparing an application involving human subjects?
- What is the difference between a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and a request for application (RFA)?
- What is a parent announcement?
- Do I have to reference a specific funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in my application?
- What funding mechanisms does NIAAA use to support extramural research?
Submission and Peer Review
- When are applications due?
- How do I submit an application?
- How is it determined where a grant application will be reviewed?
- Are there applications that require pre-clearance from NIAAA before being accepted for review?
- What are priority scores, percentiles, and success rates?
- What are unscored applications?
- What are modular grants?
- How are funding decisions made by NIAAA?
- Are new investigators given special consideration for award?
- If I know the percentile score that my R01 application received and the projected NIAAA success rate for the current year, will that tell me whether my application will receive an award?
- Why are reductions in the size of grant awards made? Will modular grants be affected?
- What happens to my application if it is not funded; will I receive a formal notice?
Resources for Applicants/Grantees
- How do I make contact with NIAAA staff members, and what type of assistance can they provide?
- How do the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) affect public disclosure of extramural research grant information?
Research Areas of Interest and Priorities
Q. What is extramural research?
A. Extramural research is research supported by funds from the NIH to researchers and organizations outside the NIH through a grant, contract or cooperative agreement.
Q. Is clinical research emphasized at NIAAA? Are there specific awards to encourage clinical research and career development?
A. Clinical research is one of the areas emphasized at the Institute. NIAAA has active programs in prevention, treatment, and health services research. In total, clinical research comprises over 30 percent of the Institute's extramural research program.
NIH has K-series mechanisms for patient-oriented clinical researchers, the K23 (Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award), and the K24 (Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research). In addition, NIH also has K08 (Mentored Clinical Scientist Award) specifically for clinicians who are interested in acquiring research expertise and experience. Funding opportunity announcements for these K-series applications are available at the NIH Advanced Funding Opportunities and Notices Web site.
Q. Is research on health disparities a priority for NIAAA?
A. Yes, health disparities research is and has been a priority at NIAAA. For example, the Institute has studied for many years why alcohol abuse tends to affect minority groups differently and why some alcohol-related problems appear to be more prevalent among certain population groups.
Q. How does NIAAA determine the research priorities and areas of research for which it desires to stimulate Research Project Grants (RPG) applications?
A. NIAAA determines its research priorities through several approaches, including the National Advisory Council and its subcommittees, input from the field, meetings and conferences, the overall NIAAA Strategic Plan, a Health Disparities Strategic Plan, and congressional legislation and report language.
The Extramural Advisory Board (EAB) of the National Advisory Council has been conducting a series of portfolio reviews. These reviews, which are delineated by eight Institute program areas, provide an important opportunity for the field and NIAAA staff to discuss the state-of-the-art in a particular area, review research goals and objectives, and ultimately set long- and short-term recommendations for the Institute to consider.
The EAB on Research Priorities integrates recommendations from various portfolio reviews and makes short- and long-term recommendations through the Council to the Institute.
The Institute’s Strategic Plan reflects input from the portfolio reviews, the Council Subcommittee Extramural Advisory Board, Institute staff, Council members, and liaison groups.
Q. How do I obtain copies of the NIAAA Strategic Plan, Extramural Subcommittee Reports, and Plan to Address Health Disparities Initiatives?
A. You may access the items on the NIAAA Web site.
Q. Does NIAAA support research in which human subjects participate?
Q. Where do I find information and advice on preparing an application involving human subjects?
A. Information and advice on preparing an application involving human subjects can be found in either the funding opportunity announcement (for electronic applications) or the PHS 398 (for paper applications), and the Office of Extramural Research’s Web site at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/oer.htm.
Q. What is the difference between a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and a request for application (RFA)?
A. A FOA is a publicly available document by which the NIH and other Federal Agencies make known their intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually as a result of competition for funds. A RFA is one type of FOA that solicits research applications to address a well-defined scientific area. It specifies the scope and objectives of the research of interest, application requirements, procedures, and review criteria. The RFA indicates a specific amount of funds to be set aside for the initiative and the estimated number of awards to be made, based on merit. There is usually only one receipt date. A Scientific Review Group convened by the issuing Institute usually reviews applications submitted in response to an RFA.
Other types of FOAs include:Program Announcements (PA, good for 3 years unless reissued with 3 cycles of review and multiple receipt dates) to publicize interest in receiving applications in a particular area of research but no set-aside of funds;
Program Announcements with special receipt, referral, or review considerations (PAR);
Program Announcements with set-aside of funds for the initial cycle of review (PAS-Program Announcement with Set-Aside);
Parent Announcements to enable electronic investigator-initiated applications for a single grant mechanism;
Contract Request for Proposals (RFPs solicit proposals to respond to a Government requirement specified in a Statement of Work and does not specify an amount of funds to be set aside for the contract ); and
Contract Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs a general announcement of an agency’s research interest. No Statement of Work is specified.)
FOAs can be found at Grants.gov/FIND and the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.
Q. What is a parent announcement?
A. NIH and other HHS Agencies have developed generic Parent Funding Opportunity Announcements for applicants who wish to submit what were formerly called "unsolicited-investigator initiated" applications.
Q. Do I have to reference a specific funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in my application?
A. Yes. You may reference either a FOA targeted to a specific research area or a Parent Announcement.
Q. What funding mechanisms does NIAAA use to support extramural research?
A. NIAAA supports most research and training mechanisms utilized by NIH. For an overview of these mechanisms, go to the "Research Grants" and "Research Training and Career Development Programs” sections on NIH’s Web site.
Submission and Peer Review
Q. When are applications due?
A. Unsolicited applications may be submitted during one of the 3 cycles per year. Detailed information on Standard Due Dates for applications for all grant mechanisms is available at: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm. Deadlines for submission of applications in response to RFAs or PARs are listed in the appropriate announcements.
Q. How do I submit an application?
A. An applicant must identify a specific Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) before preparing an application and may seek advice from Program Officers for priority research areas. For questions regarding the review process, the applicant may contact Chief of the Review Branch, NIAAA . Applications to NIH are submitted by an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) on behalf of the organization. For information on Submitting Your Application, go to: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/submitapplication.htm.
Q. How is it determined where a grant application will be reviewed?
A. The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR), is responsible for the first level of review for unsolicited, investigator-initiated R01 applications, Small Grants (R03), Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15),Small Business Innovation Research Grants (R43, R44), Small Business Technology Transfer Grants (R41, R42), and Fellowship applications (F30, F31, F32). Most Institutes, including NIAAA, are responsible for the initial review of their own Exploratory Grants (R21), K-Series applications (K01, K02, K05, K07, K08, K23, K24), conference grants (R13/U13), Cooperative Agreement (U series), and Research Training (T32), and Fellowships (F30, F31, F32). NIAAA also reviews R01s in the clinical research areas.
Q. Are there applications that require pre-clearance from NIAAA before being accepted for review?
A. NIH policy states that applications in which the investigator requests direct costs of $500,000 or more in any one year of the research proposal must receive clearance from the primary Institute before submission of the application. Pre-approval may be required in certain other funding opportunity announcements for specific mechanisms, such as R13/U13.
Q. What are priority scores, percentiles, and success rates?
A. A priority score is a numerical rating assigned by the Scientific Review Group (SRG) to a research application. It reflects the scientific merit of the research proposed in the application. Scores range from 100 (most favorable) to 500 (least favorable).
A percentile represents the relative position or rank of each application's priority score among the scores assigned by a particular SRG over three rounds. Percentiles are only applied to R01 applications, with the exception of R01 applications received in response to a Request for Applications (RFA).
The success rate reflects the fraction of applications that successfully compete for awards in a given fiscal year. The rate is determined by dividing the number of awards by the number of applications received. For example, if an Institute awards 100 Research Project Grants (RPGs) from a pool of 500 received RPG applications, the success rate will be 1 out of 5, or 20 percent.
Q. What are unscored applications?
A. Applications that fall into the lower half of all applications evaluated in a specific review meeting are considered non-competitive. They are not discussed at review meetings and they do not receive a priority score. Unscored applications are not subjected to a second level of review by the NIAAA Advisory Council. However, applicants do receive a summary statement with written comments from reviewers.
Q. What are modular grants?
A. The modular grant application is used for competing grant applications from domestic organizations requesting $250,000 or less per year in direct costs, exclusive of any consortium facilities and administrative (F&A) costs. Applicants must request direct costs in $25,000 increments or modules. Only limited budgetary information is required under the modular grant approach. Certain information must be submitted (just-in-time) only when it is highly likely that the NIH will make an award. This streamlined approach helps reduce the administrative burden for applicants, reviewers, and Institute staff.
The NIH Modular Research Grant Application Web page that guides you to detailed information about the application process, including samples of relevant pages from an application is available at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/modular/modular.htm.
Q. How are funding decisions made by NIAAA?
A. Following the October, January, and May Council rounds, the Budget Officer prepares a pay plan for each grant mechanism, and extramural program staff then meet with the Institute Director and Associate Directors to discuss selected applications that fall below the established pay line.
Applications above the pay line are generally approved for funding without discussion. Applications below the pay line are considered for award on the basis of 1) Council designation as High Program Priority; 2) unique characteristics that meet specific program needs; 3) relevance to published NIAAA priorities; 4) renewal (Type 2) status; and 5) budget limitations. R01 applications from new investigators also receive special consideration.
After the discussion, the NIAAA Director, in consultation with senior staff, makes the funding decisions. The extramural divisions are notified and then submit requests for payment to the Grants Management Branch. Following an administrative review of each application by Grants Management Specialists, awards are issued by the Grants Management Officer, who has sole authority to obligate funds.
Q. Are new investigators given special consideration for award?
A. New investigators receive special consideration for R01 awards by NIAAA and the other NIH Institutes. NIH strongly encourages the Institutes to support new investigators.
Q. If I know the percentile score that my R01 application received and the projected NIAAA success rate for the current year, will that tell me whether my application will receive an award?
A. No, it will not. The percentile score reflects the relative ranking of your application within the specific SRG that conducted the review. An SRG may serve multiple Institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in turn, each Institute receives reviews from multiple SRGs. For this reason, the percentile score cannot be translated directly into a success rate, which, as stated above, is the ratio of the number of awards made by the Institute to the number of applications received.
Q. Why are reductions in the size of grant awards made? Will modular grants be affected?
A. Sometimes, reductions in all research project grant awards, including modular grants, are necessary to balance programmatic needs and available resources. Necessary budget reductions are carefully weighed for their impact on the Institute’s research programs.
Q. What happens to my application if it is not funded; will I receive a formal notice?
A. No. Applicants are advised to contact their program officers for guidance.
Resources for Applicants/Grantees
Q. How do I make contact with NIAAA staff members, and what type of assistance can they provide?
A. NIAAA program staff can be contacted by mail, telephone, or email. Program staff can advise on research topics, preparation of research applications, NIAAA special interest areas, and referral to other Institute staff in relation to specific questions.
Further information describing NIAAA's mission, research priorities, and names of persons to contact regarding particular NIAAA program areas is available at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/ResearchInformation/ExtramuralResearch/reschpro.htm.
Q. How do the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) affect public disclosure of extramural research grant information?
A. The Privacy Act and the FOIA make certain extramural research information available. Only information from funded grant applications is available for public release. Public information about funded grants is available through the CRISP database.
Specific details regarding the Privacy Act are available at: http://oma.od.nih.gov/ms/privacy/.
Specific details regarding the FOIA are available at: http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/foia/index.htm.
Updated: January 2008