NIH application process

First  planning stage

NIH only supports researchers at foreign institutions if they are able to offer something which cannot be found equivalently in the U.S. Thus, before embarking on an application you should consider whether your project contains specific qualifications, resources, special population groups or expensive infrastructure, data or other elements that cannot be found in the U.S. or which can supplement American resources. Another requirement for receiving a grant from NIH is that the research must benefit the health of Americans. However, these requirements do not apply if you function as a partner in an application that is submitted by an American researcher.

Finding project calls

All calls from NIH can be found on NIH offers various types of calls:

  • Parent Announcement: researcher-initiated projects; not subject-specific,. Typically three application cycles per year.
  • Programme Announcement (PA): calls within a wide subject. Typically three application cycles per year.
  • Request for applications (RFA): calls within a limited subject. One round of applications per year.

The project calls contain different types of programmes, some of which only American applicants can apply for. Project calls most relevant for Danish applicants are:

  • NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01): R01 is the most commonly applied type of programme, and supports larger research projects of 3-5 years’ duration.
  • NIH Small Grant Program (R03): R03 supports two-year projects, e.g., pilot studies, collection of data and minor research projects which can be completed with the period.
  • NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21): R21 supports two-year projects and aims at pilot studies and explorative projects. 

The application procedure

The Research Support Office handles institutional registrations in the NIH systems, allowing you to begin writing your application right away.  You must be registered as an applicant by the institution before submitting your application. Thus, it is important that you contact the Research Support Unit before beginning your application for NIH. 

The application for NIH follows a fixed template including forms, CV, budget, etc., for a total of 80-100 pages. The project description typically constitutes 25 pages of the total pages.

If needed, NIH gladly informs you whether your project falls under the project call prior to your application. You can get feedback on your project by sending a short project description (2 pages) to the ‘scientific/research contact(s)’ referred to in the project call.


Criteria for evaluation

The evaluation of applications for NIH is conducted based on the following criteria:

  • significance
  • approach
  • innovation
  • the researcher
  • scientific environment

Find an elaboration of the evaluation criteria here