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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 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 period.

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 ) on any Public Health Service ( PHS ) - supported research project other than a small grant (R03), an Academic Research Enhancement Award (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 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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