As you begin your journey in search of NIH grant funding, it is important to understand the structure of NIH to find the best fit for your research.
NIH is made up of 27 institutes and centers (often referred to as ICs), 24 of which can make grant awards. Each IC has a separate appropriation from Congress, and the director of each IC decides which grants it will fund, taking into consideration input from their staff, the results of the scientific peer review of the grant application, public health need, scientific opportunity, and the need to balance its scientific portfolio. NIH only funds research that has been judged highly meritorious in the peer review process.
Each IC has a distinct mission that focuses on a specific disease area, organ system, or stage of life. The mission and priorities of each IC are stated on their individual websites. Prospective grantees should do their research to identify the ICs that might be interested in their research idea. Many research topics may be of interest to multiple ICs, so reach out to different scientific program officials around NIH. They can guide you to the best IC home for your idea.
Our Matchmaker tool in RePORTER can help you determine which IC may be interested in your idea (see our video demonstration of Matchmaker). Simply enter your abstract or other scientific terms to see which ICs have funded research in that area. Your query result may also be useful for finding NIH program official contacts at NIH. Click on the details tab for individual grants in the search result to find the program official responsible for that area of research.
Why is it so important to identify an IC that may be interested in your work? As you start looking for funding opportunities, ensure that the IC potentially interested in your area of science is listed as a participating organization on the funding opportunity announcement that you use to submit your application. If they are not listed as participating on the funding opportunity announcement you use to submit your application, they will not be able to consider your application for funding.
When in doubt, reach out – NIH staff are here to help you navigate the grants process and find the right fit for your research.