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NIH Small Grant Program (R03)


The NIH has standardized the Small Grant (R03) application characteristics, requirements, preparation, and review procedures in order to accommodate investigator-initiated (unsolicited) applications. This website describes the use of the investigator-initiated R03 and describes the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) that intend to accept such applications.

As in the past, the R03 award will support small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources. Investigators wishing to apply for an R03 grant should be aware that not all ICs accept investigator-initiated R03 applications and that the different ICs may have specific purposes for which they use this funding mechanism. Before preparing an application for an R03 grant, all investigators should consult the list of participating ICs (shown below) as well as the IC staff listed as contacts to determine if an R03 application is appropriate. There is also a list of ICs that do not accept unsolicited R03 applications. All investigator-initiated small grant applications described in this announcement will be assigned to the ICs according to standard PHS referral guidelines and specific program interests. Applications that are assigned to an IC that does not participate in this program may be returned without review.

Some of the non-participating ICs may solicit R03 applications using Requests for Applications (RFAs) or special Program Announcements (PAs) in order to meet specific programmatic needs. In some cases those announcements may specify different application characteristics, review criteria, and receipt dates. All such announcements will be published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index.html. The PA for investigator-initiated R03 applications can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-06-180.html and articulates the policies and procedures that apply to this program.

Electronic Submission

Electronic Submission – NIH will require electronic submission of the SF424 (R&R) form through Grants.gov to NIH for all R03 grant applications for the June 1, 2006 application deadline and beyond.

  • Registration – The NIH electronic submission process requires institutional registration in two separate systems: Grants.gov and eRA Commons . Project Directors/Principal Investigators also must be registered in eRA Commons. These registration processes can take up to four weeks (possibly longer for new organizations) to complete. All registrations must be in place prior to application submission. For additional information on preparing for electronic submission to NIH please visit: http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/preparing.htm .

  • Training resources – video library, archived training sessions and other training resources to learn about the NIH electronic submission process and the new SF424 (R&R) application

  • FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

  • Tips & Tools - resources to avoid common application submission errors

The common characteristic of the small grant is the provision of limited funding for a short period of time. Examples of the types of projects that ICs support with the R03 include the following:

  • Pilot or feasibility studies
  • Secondary analysis of existing data
  • Small, self-contained research projects
  • Development of research methodology
  • Development of new research technology
Application Characteristics
  • Applicants for an R03 award may request a project period of up to two years and a budget for direct costs of up to two $25,000 modules or $50,000 per year.
  • Small grant support is for new projects only; competing continuation applications will not be accepted.
  • A doctoral student can not apply for an R03 grant to support his/her thesis or dissertation research. However, support from an R03 award may be used to assist students as co-investigators or research assistants who are pursuing dissertation studies when the work is within the scope of the R03 award.
  • All NIH Institutes and Centers will accept two revisions of a previously reviewed R03 small grant application. (See NOT-OD-05-046)
  • The Research Plan (Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Preliminary Studies, and Research Design and Methods) of an application for a small grant may not exceed a total of 10 pages.
  • A Progress Report is not needed; competing continuation applications for a small grant will be not accepted.
R03 Participating and Non-Participating Institutes and Centers