Common Fund Program Lifecycle


Strategic Planning: Phases 1 and 2


The Common Fund is intended to be a flexible resource for NIH to make strategic investments in programs that will have high impact NIH-wide. Strategic planning is undertaken regularly to identify research areas that address key roadblocks in biomedical research or that represent emerging scientific opportunities ripe for Common Fund investment.


Strategic planning involves the identification of trans-NIH challenges and opportunities that address the Common Fund criteria. Broad topics identified in Phase 1 are refined into a series of well-defined programs and initiatives in Phase 2. In Phase 1, ideas for potential new Common Fund programs may be solicited from NIH Leadership, NIH Institute and Center Directors, and members of the broad scientific community. In Phase 2, refinement of ideas may include analyses of the NIH, national, and international research portfolios; workshops and meetings with scientific experts in the field; and input from scientific leaders across the NIH. The Council of Councils for the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) acts as an external advisory panel to the DPCPSI and NIH Directors for consideration of potential new Common Fund programs. Final decisions on new Common Fund programs are made by NIH Leadership, with input from DPCPSI and NIH Institute and Center Directors. 

Strategic Planning Updates

Fiscal Year 2021 Programs

To plan for new Common Fund programs in fiscal year 2021, OSC solicited ideas from NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), which were submitted in early November 2018. Additionally, in October 2018, the Common Fund hosted a series of web-based workshops with editors from a diverse array of biomedical and behavioral research journals. The objective of these workshops was to learn about new scientific trends, emerging areas of research, and cross-cutting challenges that may contribute to planning for new Common Fund programs. An executive summary of the three journal editor workshops is now available.  

NIH Leadership considered the ideas put forth and selected four topics for further development:

  • Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) – This program would enhance the diversity of early career investigators at academic institutions by using an integrated approach to address recruitment, outreach, implicit-bias education, and mentoring/career development.
  • Nutrient Sensor – This program would support methods or tools to accurately report the consumption of various nutrients, with the goal of enabling more accurate and cost-effective studies on diet and nutrition.
  • Precision Global Health – This program would take advantage of unique research opportunities in low and middle income countries to have an impact on chronic disease.
  • Artificial Intelligence – Development and planning of this topic will be informed by the findings of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Artificial Intelligence. Preliminary recommendations are expected in June.

These topics are in very early stages of development, and so the focus and scope may change as additional planning activities take place. Program proposals will be considered by IC Directors and the Council of Councils in the late summer, and final plans will be reviewed by DPCPSI and NIH Leadership in the fall. This will allow new programs to begin in early fiscal year 2021.

Additionally, a second stage of support for the 4D Nucleome program is being considered for fiscal year 2020. All planning activities are subject to availability of funds. 




As each Common Fund program is unique, the implementation of each program varies. To read more about the currently supported Common Fund programs, see Common Fund Programs.




Common Fund programs are designed to achieve a set of high-impact goals within a 5-10 year time frame. At the conclusion of each program, deliverables will either stimulate IC-funded research or will transition to support by ICs or other entities that find these resources useful. Programs that have transitioned from Common Fund support can be found on the Former Programs page.


Common Fund programs are evaluated throughout the lifecycle as the need arises.

This page last reviewed on February 11, 2019