Disclaimer: The information in these pages are meant to provide general guidance. Instructions and procedures outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement and SF424 Application Guide take precedence over any information provided and should be referred to for complete and comprehensive directions.
- Roles & Responsibilities
- Just-in-Time Request
- Funding Deliberations
- Pre-Award Negotiation
- Notice of Award
Timely and effective communication between the grantee and NIH staff is critical throughout pre-award, award, and post award processes. At this stage the following people will work closely together:
- Grants Management Officer (GMO): The GMO signs the Notice of Award (NoA) and is the NIH official who is responsible for the business management and other non-programmatic aspects of the award. GMOs ensure that laws, regulations, and administrative policies are followed.
- Grants Management Specialist (GMS): The GMS works with the GMO on the day-to-day management of the grant. The name and contact information of the GMS assigned to a particular grant appears on the NoA.
- Program Official (PO): The PO is responsible for the programmatic, scientific, and/or technical aspects of assigned applications and grants. The PO coordinates with grants management on post-award administration.
- Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR): The AOR, also known as Signing Official (SO) in the eRA Commons, is the designated representative of the grantee organization in matters related to the award and its administration. Their signature certifies that the applicant organization will comply and is accountable for all assurances and certifications referenced in the application. This individual's signature further certifies that the applicant organization will be accountable both for the appropriate use of funds awarded and for the performance of the grant-supported project or activities resulting from the application.
- Project Director/ Principal Investigator (PD/PI): The PD/PI is the individual designated by the applicant organization to have the appropriate level of authority and responsibility to direct the project or program supported by the award. The PI is responsible and accountable to the grantee organization for the proper conduct of the project or program, including the submission of all required reports.
The PD/PI is the core member of the grantee team responsible for ensuring compliance with the financial and administrative aspects of the award. The PD/PI work closely within the grantee organization to create and maintain necessary documentation, such as technical and administrative reports, preparing justifications, appropriately acknowledging federal support of research findings in publications, announcements, news programs, and other media, and ensuring compliance with other federal and organizational requirements.
NIH encourages the PD/PI to maintain contact with the NIH program officer with respect to the scientific aspects of the project and the grants management officer concerning the business and administrative aspects of the award.
Some important time-sensitive information isn’t included in your application. Instead, you prepare it separately and send it in before awarding in a process called Just-in-Time (JIT).
After initial peer review, NIH sends an automatic email requesting JIT information for applications within a competitive funding range. The notification is NOT a Notice of Award, nor should it be construed as an indicator of possible award.
Requested JIT information includes:
- Other support
- Certification of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval
- Certification of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval
- Human subjects training certification for all key personnel
JIT information must be submitted for NIH review and evaluation prior to making an award. This information may be submitted via the Just-In-Time function within eRA Commons. If you have questions about the JIT process, contact the grants management specialist assigned to your grant.
Following review of all applicable information, the NIH Office of the Director and the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program working group (composed of NIH staff from nearly every NIH institute and center) will determine whether an award will be made.
The score given to an application during the initial peer review process is an important factor and best indicator of likely funding but is not the sole factor used in making funding decisions. The following are considered in making funding decisions:
- Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review with consideration of the PD/PI’s optional summary statement response
- Availability of funds
- Relevance of programmatic priorities, including
- The potential for the investigator to lead groundbreaking and broadly impactful research, despite its inherent risks
- Unusually cross-cutting science
- Scientific balance in the portfolio of Pioneer Award-supported research
- Potential to invigorate exceptionally innovative and impactful science broadly across the nation
- Conformance to clinical trial research policies of the administering NIH institute or center
The NIH Office of the Director funds the majority of awards. However, other NIH institutes and centers are invited to fund Pioneer Award applications that they deem meritorious and that fit within their mission and priorities. The NIH Office of the Director does not play a role in the funding deliberations of the institutes and centers, but the process is managed by the institute/center’s member of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program working group.
The pre-award process involves significant communication between the NIH and the applicant organization and includes negotiation if significant adjustments are required prior to award. Some of the issues NIH staff will be considering during award negotiations include:
- Initial peer review recommendations: Peer reviewers may recommend changes to the specific aims. These recommendations are provided in the summary statement. Under these circumstances, NIH staff will include these recommendations in consideration of a potential award.
- Overlap: Program and grants management staff will review the other support information to ensure there is no overlap with already funded projects (e.g., support, commitment, or budgetary).
- Level of effort: Program and grants management staff will ensure sufficient levels of effort are committed to support the approved project.
- Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs: Grants management staff will utilize the negotiated F&A costs (also known as indirect costs) for each grant. More information on the reimbursement of F&A costs can be found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
You may receive communications from NIH staff regarding the intent to make an award, but nothing is official until you receive the Notice of Award (NoA).
The NoA is the legal document issued to notify the grantee that an award has been made and that funds are now available for the project. The NoA includes the terms and conditions of the award, your project's start and end dates, and how much money you will receive for current and future years. It also provides contact information for the assigned program officer and grants management specialist. It is important that you read and understand your NoA.
NoAs are issued annually for each budget period and are contingent upon annual assessment of research progress and the availability of funds.
More questions? Contact us at PioneerAwards@mail.nih.gov.
This page last reviewed on July 14, 2020