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A guide to NIH grants for non-US entities: This page aims to guide non-US parties in identifying matching NIH programs and funding opportunities. 

Eligibility and fit for NIH grants

If you are considering to apply for NIH-funding as a non-US party, you must first determine whether you meet the requirements for elligibility. After this, identify which type of NIH grant fits you best and finally search for Funding Opportunity Announcements and specific topics that match your envisoined project and start the application. Of course, ttopstart can guide you through this process. 

Specific NIH requirements for non-US applicants

Section III.1.A of each FOA describes the type of institutions/organizations that are eligible to apply and Section III.1.B provides information on the type of individuals that are eligible to apply. In addition, Chapter 16 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement (10/12) describes general eligibility requirements for foreign organizations. The peer review of applications from foreign institutions is the same as that for applications from U.S. institutions (Chapter 2.4 of this document).

Assessment of non-US applicants

Importantly, for non-US applicants the following will additionally be assessed as part of the review process and award decision:

  • Whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily available in the United States or that augment existing U.S. resources.
  • Whether the proposed project has specific relevance to the mission and objectives of the IC and has the potential for significantly advancing the health sciences in the United States.

Additional information on the requirements for non-US applicants may be found here.

The NIH generally accepts applications both by individual researchers and by research consortia, for all types of programs and calls.

Types of NIH programs

The NIH accepts both unsolicited grant applications as well as responses to specific calls (see below). For both types of applications, the NIH has a number of grant programs and non-US entities are eligible to apply for a subset of these. The following grant programs are generally open to non-US applicants:

R01 

  • For a discrete, specified, circumscribed research project.
  • Generally, 3-5 yr; no specific dollar limit but generally on the order of $250k/yr.
  • Link to parent FOA.

R03

  • Limited funding for a short period of time to support a variety of types of projects, including: pilot or feasibility studies, collection of preliminary data, secondary analysis of existing data, small, self-contained research projects, development of new research technology, etc.
  • 2 yr; $50k/yr.
  • Link to parent FOA.

R21

  • Encourages new, exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early stages of project development.  Sometimes used for pilot and feasibility studies.
  • 2 yr; $275k total.
  • Link to parent FOA.

R34

  • For Phase III clinical trials.
  • 1 yr; $100k.

U01

  • Supports discrete, specified, circumscribed projects to be performed by investigator(s) in an area representing their specific interests and competencies.
  • No specific dollar limit unless specified in FOA.

P01

  • Only open to non-US applicants under specific conditions, mentioned in FOAs.
  • Support for integrated, multi-project research projects involving a number of independent investigators who share knowledge and common resources.
  • No specific dollar limit unless specified in FOA.

Of note: the NIH STTR (R41/42) and SBIR (R43/44) Technology Transfer / Small Business grants are only open to US entities and NIH career or individual grants are only open to applicants (including non-US applicants) working at US institutions. The NSF, another large US funding agency, does not accept foreign grant applications.

Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and specific topics

For unsolicited grant applications there are so-called parent FOAs (provided above with the descriptions of the programs). FOAs that entail a specific call are published through this website. Additional news on funding and open calls and programs may be found through this website. Specifics and exceptions (e.g. on eligibility for non-US applicants and specific dollar amounts) are found in the FOA descriptions.

Certain FOAs describe specific objectives and expected outcomes. In other cases, there are no specific program requirements, but the proposed research plan must be related to the stated program interests of one or more of the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers based on descriptions of their programs. Each of these institutes/centers focuses on a specific area of interest and their programs may be found through their individual websites (accessible through the previous link).

Of note: applications that were not funded, can often be re-submitted in a subsequent round after revisions based on the feedback received.

Submission deadlines

Generally, NIH grants cycle through three annual deadlines, details of which may be found here. For the relevant programs, the deadlines are as follows:

R01, U01: February 5, June 5, October 5
R03, R21, R34: February 16, June 16, October 16
P01: January 25, May 25, September 25

How ttopstart can help you apply for NIH funding

ttopstart has extensive experience in the support of applications for complex subsidy programmes such as that of the NIH. ttopstart can help identify a program and funding opportunity and perform a thorough feasibility assessment prior to preparing a full application. Our services for NIH subsidies are largely comparable to those of Horizon 2020. Please contact us for more information.