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Am I a new investigator and what if this is my first NIH application?

If this is your first attempt at writing an application, begin by finding a mentor.  This person should be someone who has similar scientific interests and who has effectively obtained NIH 

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
the United State's medical research agency, a federal government agency composed of diverse Institutes and Centers that conduct and support biomedical and behavioral research. NIH Homepage.
funding. You may find a mentor by:

  • Searching the RePORTER database which will allow you to search for individuals who are funded in your area of research.
  • Visiting professional society websites that may have a database of available mentors.
  • Contacting a researcher at your local or a nearby institution.

Ask for advice and review funded applications to help guide you towards your own successful application. Remember to include enough detail in your application about your proposed study to convince the reviewers of the significance of the problem. Be realistic about the amount of work that can be done during the grant 

financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity. A grant is used whenever the NIH Institute or Center anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the financially assisted activities.

Classes or seminars may be available to help you better understand the application process. NIH Office of Extramural Research sponsors Seminars on Program Funding and Grants Administration periodically at various locations.

The NIH New Investigators Program may be applicable to you. For the purpose of review and funding, applicants are considered New Investigators if they have not previously served as the Principal Investigator ( PI 

Principal Investigator (PI)
a qualified person designated by an applicant institution to direct a research project or program, oversee scientific and technical aspects of a grant and the day-to-day management of the research.
) on any Public Health Service ( PHS 
Public Health Service (PHS)
governmental division comprised of agencies related to health and human services such Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ( CMS ), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to name a few. DHHS Homepage
) - supported research project other than a small grant (R03), an Academic Research Enhancement Award 
provision of funds by NIH, based on an approved application and budget or progress report, to an organizational entity or an individual to carry out a project or activity.
(R15), an exploratory/developmental grant (R21), or certain research career awards directed principally to physicians, dentists, or veterinarians at the beginning of their research career.

It is to your advantage to identify yourself as a new investigator on the face page of the PHS 398 or SF424 application form and in your biosketch as reviewers will expect fewer prior achievements from you. Reviewers are instructed to put more emphasis on training, environment and innovation when assessing applications from new investigators. In addition, NHLBI 

National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (NHLBI)
a NIH Institute that provides leadership for a national program in diseases of the heart, lung, and blood as well as blood resources, sleep disorders and the Woman's Health Initiative. NHLBI Homepage.
has a preferential pay line for new investigators; Information about this can be found on the NHLBI Funding and Operating Guidelines website.

NHLBI strongly supports the training and development of new investigators. Additional information which describes special funding consideration may be found in the Commitment to Early Stage Investigators.

Page Last Updated: February 2011
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