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 2019 Programs

The Extracellular RNA Communication program has been approved for a second stage of support starting in FY 2019, pending availability of funds. 

Fiscal Year 2020 Programs

Ideas for potential new FY 2020 programs were solicited from NIH Institutes and Centers and discussed at the NIH Leadership Forum in November 2017. NIH Leadership decided that ideas for new programs will not be considered at this time. Instead, high priority goals that expand existing Common Fund programs may be considered, and these would leverage previous Common Fund investments. Ideas for expanding existing Common Fund programs will be discussed further with IC Directors in early 2018. Additionally, a second stage of support for the 4D Nucleome program will be considered for FY 2020.

Fiscal Year 2021 Programs

Strategic planning for FY 2021 is currently underway. NIH Institute and Center Directors have been invited to submit ideas for potential new Common Fund programs. Additionally, in fall 2018, the Common Fund will host a series of web-based workshops with editors from a diverse array of biomedical and behavioral research journals. The objective of these workshops is to learn about new scientific trends, emerging areas of research, and cross-cutting challenges that may contribute to planning for new Common Fund programs. Ideas emerging from these activities will then be prioritized for further development, with final decisions on new FY 2021 Common Fund programs expected in fall 2019. 




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 November 6, 2018