skip navigation National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): Improving the lives of people who have communication disorders
One of the National Institutes of Health
Change text size:   S   M   L

How to Apply for an NIDCD Grant


The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports and conducts research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. It does this through a program of grants and contracts in basic, clinical, and translational research. NIDCD supports a wide range of research approaches, including molecular genetics, biomedical imaging, nanotechnology, linguistics, psychoacoustics, structural biology, and the development of assistive and augmentative devices.

NIDCD helps shape and sustain scientists at all stages of their careers—from high school students to senior scientists. Whether you’re interested in conducting a small feasibility study or a large clinical trial, the NIDCD offers a variety of funding mechanisms to support a broad range of research ideas.

This page provides brief descriptions of the research mechanisms NIDCD offers.
For more complete descriptions, requirements, and information about additional opportunities, go to:

NIDCD is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDCD–funded research is conducted in public and private institutions across the country and within the laboratories and clinics at the NIH in Bethesda, Md.

  • NIDCD supports research that leads to scientific discovery.
  • NIDCD-supported research has made important contributions to the body of knowledge needed to help those who experience communication disorders and to advance our understanding of all aspects of human communication.
  • Currently, NIDCD supports and conducts approximately 1200 research projects.


What research mechanisms are available?

Investigator-initiated research grant (R01)

The R01 supports original research proposed by principal investigators. R01s represent the largest category of NIDCD support. R01s are awarded to organizations on behalf of individual principal investigators based on strong proposals and investigator competence. Applicants need pilot data and a publication record.

Note: Applicants must submit a research plan (not to exceed 25 pages) as part of the electronic application process.

NIDCD Small Grant Program (R03)

The R03 provides a unique opportunity for newly independent investigators and postdoctoral researchers moving to research independence. If you are familiar with R03s used by other institutes, you will want to review the specialized use of the mechanism by NIDCD. The R03 provides for up to three years of support to conduct pilot or feasibility studies that will launch a research program. Or, it can provide one year of support for acquiring pilot or feasibility data for emerging clinician-scientists to launch a successful K08 or K23 award.

Note: Applicants must submit a research plan (not to exceed ten pages) as part of the electronic application process. Read more about the K08/K23 mechanism in the research training section on page 9.

Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) (R15)

Stimulates research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of our nation’s research scientists, but which, historically, have not been major recipients of NIH support.

Exploratory Grant (R21)

Encourages exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of these projects.

Research Core Center Grant (P30)

Supports one or more core resources to promote a cooperative interaction among basic and/or clinical investigators in a manner that will enrich the effectiveness of ongoing research and promote new research directions. Research cores should furnish a group of investigators with active research projects some service, technique, assay, or instrumentation in a manner that will enhance the researchin progress.

Clinical Research Center Grant (P50)

Supports an investigator-initiated research program in which a team of investigators works in a clearly defined clinical area of mutual scientific interest. The subjects, data, or tissue being studied must represent a population with a human communication disorder.

Small Business Innovation Research Program Grants (SBIR) (R43/R44)

Provide support for research and development of commercial products.

Small Business Technology Transfer Program Grants (STTR) (R41/R42)

Support the development of commercial projects by collaboration between small business concerns and research institutions.

Other Opportunities

NIDCD offers additional mechanisms and provides announcements of initiatives designed to stimulate science in promising or needed areas.
To find out more about other mechanisms and opportunities, go to:


How do I apply?

There are four important steps.

  1. Contact NIDCD.

    Talk about your idea with the NIDCD staff member who is responsible for the scientific area of your research. These scientists, called program officers or health scientist administrators, are listed at the end of this page. They will be able to help you with questions.

    You will also want to review the NIDCD Strategic Plan to learn about research priorities of the institute.

    To review the NIDCD Strategic Plan, go to:

  2. Register in the NIH eRA Commons.

    NIH eRA Commons is a secure meeting place on the Web where research organizations and grantees electronically receive and transmit information about the administration of biomedical and behavioral research grants. Applicants electronically access the status of their applications and grantees access the status of their awards, submit reports, and make requests.

    For information about registering, go to:

  3. Access current application guidelines.

    Visit to select the appropriate grant mechanism for your research goals. There, you will also find additional information about each program area and detailed contact information for NIDCD staff.

  4. Submit your application, noting all deadlines and requirements.

    The SF424 (Research & Related) grant application form is used for electronic submission and is gradually replacing the paper application forms. Standard paper forms, such as PHS 398 and PHS 416, are still used for some types of grant applications.

    Electronic grant applications must be submitted in response to a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). NIH has developed Parent Announcements for use by applicants who wish to submit what were formerly termed investigator-initiated or “unsolicited” applications.

    Investigators need to apply using the electronic application package for the chosen mechanism, listed in the table at

    Remember to talk with the NIDCD program officer and with your institution’s sponsored research office.

    For more information, go to:


Then what happens? Where does my proposal go?

After you submit your application to the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR),, scientists at CSR assign each grant to both an initial review group called a “study section” and to an institute. The assignment is based on the scientific emphasis of the proposed research and guidelines about the expertise in each study section. Assignment to a study section is independent of assignment to the institute. Reviewers will evaluate applications to determine:

  • significance of problem addressed
  • appropriateness of approach
  • level of innovation
  • experience of the investigator
  • scientific environment

If your proposal is deemed to be in the upper half of the applications received, the application will be given a priority score. It may also receive a percentile score based upon its scientific merit and based on how it ranks within the larger group of applications reviewed in that group. A summary statement of review comments and scores are posted on the NIH eRA Commons, where principal investigators can retrieve them.

If the application is scored, it receives a second level of review by the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council. The Council is a committee of scientists and knowledgeable public members who provide NIDCD with programmatic and policy advice about its programs. NIDCD Council members evaluate the fairness and appropriateness of initial review and provide additional advice.

Once the NIDCD Council approves an application, final funding decisions are made based on scientific merit, program relevance, and available funds.

Of the grants submitted to NIDCD in one year, typically only about one-third are funded.

Note: Funding of grants is based upon merit and relevance, not upon any predetermined allocation to program area.


How long does the process take?

For the typical grant application, it takes at least nine months from the time the application is received until the grant award is made.


What training and career development mechanisms are available?

NIDCD offers several training programs, including several listed below.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (F31/F32)

Provide up to 5 years of predoctoral support or up to 3 years of postdoctoral support.

Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08/K23)

Fosters the development of highly promising clinician-scientists into independent investigators who integrate fundamental research or patient-oriented research into their clinical practice.

Research Career Transition Award (K99/R00)

Provides dual-phase support to nurture postdoctoral level scholars to the independent investigator stage.

For more information about the full spectrum of training program opportunities and eligibility requirements, go to: or read the brochure titled “NIDCD and Your Research Career.”


Additional Information: Research and Training Contacts

Division of Scientific Programs (DSP)

Judith A. Cooper, Ph.D., Director

Manages the research and research training portfolios of grants and contracts for the NIDCD. Your scientific program officer will be a key resource for you.

Hearing and Balance

Amy Donahue, Ph.D.
psychoacoustics, cochlear physiology, effects of noise on auditory system, presbycusis, cochlear implants, audiology, tinnitus, hearing aids

Bracie Watson, Ph.D.
clinical and molecular genetics of hearing impairment, otitis media, immunology

Nancy Freeman, Ph.D.
cellular, molecular, and developmental biology of auditory system

Roger Miller, Ph.D.
auditory and other neural prostheses

Christopher Platt, Ph.D.
balance and vestibular system, systems-level auditory neuroscience

Taste and Smell

Barry Davis, Ph.D.

Language Sciences

Judith Cooper, Ph.D.

Voice and Speech

Lana Shekim, Ph.D.

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Howard Hoffman, M.A.


Daniel Sklare, Ph.D.
research training across all program areas


Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

Craig A. Jordan, Ph.D., Director

Manages the peer review and award of grant and fellowship applications for the NIDCD. The following individuals are key resources in these areas.

Scientific Review

Melissa Stick, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief

Grants Management

Chris Myers, Chief


Division of Intramural Research (DIR)

David L. Robinson, Ph.D., Deputy Director

Conducts basic and clinical research in such areas as genetics of communication disorders; sensory transduction mechanisms of hearing, balance, smell, and taste; neuroimaging of brain function; and other topics in human communication.

For additional information about NIDCD and its programs, visit our Web site at


National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Celebrating 20 years of research: 1988 to 2008