This decision tree is intended for independent investigators doing research within the NIGMS mission who are new to NIH and do not have a major
research grant. This includes early stage investigators (ESIs). NIGMS supports generalizable,
foundational basic research and a limited number of clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems.
Anyone can use this tool, but it’s designed for those who are new to the NIH
process. Click on the “Tell me more” option for definitions and additional information.
This decision tree will help identify potential fit to one or more of the four notices of funding
opportunity (NOFOs) NIGMS generally uses to fund research project grants (RPGs).
Each NOFO includes details about organization and principal investigator (PI) eligibility information.
All eligibility criteria must be met to qualify. Use the decision tree below to identify a potential
fit, then check the appropriate NOFO to confirm full eligibility. Consult with your institution’s
business official to verify your organization’s eligibility. For questions about the NOFO or
eligibility, contact the program official or scientific/research contact listed towards the end of the
Individuals who completed their terminal degree within the past 10 years and who has not
previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award.
Are you interested in NIGMS funding for research (not for training or career development)?
An award made to an institution/organization to support discrete, specified, circumscribed
projects to be performed by named investigators in areas representing their specific
interest and competencies.
research project grants and cooperative agreements include the following activity
R00, R01, R03, R15, R16, R21, R33, R34, R35, R36, R37, R50, R56, R61, RC1, RC2, RC3, RC4,
RF1, RL1, RL2, RL9, P01, P42, PM1, PN1, RM1, UA5, UC1, UC2, UC3, UC4, UC7, UF1, UG3, UH2,
UH3, UH5, UM1, UM2, U01, U19, U34, U3R, DP1, DP2, DP3, DP4, DP5.
NIH's most commonly used grant program is the Research Project Grant Program (R01). Refer to Types of Grant
Do you have a current NIGMS R35 or R01-equivalent award?
Consult https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-22-180.html#_Section_III._Eligibility for more information.
Are you an ESI or NI?
A program director (PD) / principal investigator (PI) who has completed their terminal
research degree or end-of-post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later,
within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a
substantial NIH independent research award. A list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold
and still be considered an ESI can be found on this webpage.
A PD/PI who has not previously competed successfully as a PD/PI for a substantial
independent research award. For example, a PD/PI who
has previously received a competing NIH R01 research grant is no longer considered a new
investigator. However, a PD/PI who has received a small grant (R03) or an
Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) retains their status as a new
investigator. The list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered a new
investigator is the same as the list of grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be
considered an early stage investigator.
Do you have a current NIGMS research project grant?
Will your research team include primarily undergraduate students?
Refer to NOFO PAR-21-155, Section IV—
“Personnel Justification: Since a primary objective of the AREA program is to engage
undergraduate students in meritorious research, the research team must be composed
primarily of undergraduate students from the applicant institution/AREA-eligible
Does your institution enroll at least 25% of undergraduate students supported by Pell grants in each
of the last 2 years? Alternatively, is your institution an accredited medical/health professional
school that was founded to educate students from populations underrepresented in the U.S.
biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research enterprise? If you can answer
"yes" to one or both of these, answer "yes" to this question.
Pell grant data can be found at https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/ maintained by the National Center for
Does your institution have less than $6 million total costs from NIH RPG funding in the past 2 years?
NIH SuRE R16 Grants
Does your institution have less than $6 million total costs from NIH funding in 4 of the past 7 years?
Need Help Determining Organization Funding Levels for R15 Eligibility?
Does your research require multiple principal investigators?
Will your research team include some undergraduate or graduate students?
Refer to NOFOs PAR-21-169
“The research strategy must include a separate section entitled "Student Involvement
Plan" that describes how students will be involved and supervised in conducting
hands-on, rigorous research, including their participation in the execution, analysis,
and reporting of the research.”
You should be looking at Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD).
Potential fits identified below.
All eligibility criteria must be met to qualify. Once you’ve used the decision tree to identify a potential fit, check the appropriate NOFO to confirm full eligibility. Consult with your Institution’s Business Official to verify your organization’s eligibility.
Supports research capacity building at institutions that receive less than $6 million of
NIH Research Project Grant funds and where at least 25% of the undergraduate enrollment is
supported by Pell grants in each of the last 2 years, or are accredited medical/health
professional schools that were founded to educate students from populations underrepresented
in the U.S. biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research enterprise.
Open to PIs with primary appointments at non-health professional schools or colleges
within the applicant institution that has primarily undergraduate enrollment. PIs who have
intensive teaching responsibilities and limited time to devote to research may want to
consider this mechanism. These are small-scope research projects defined by Aims and must
include undergraduate students.
Two funding opportunities: one open to ESIs and the other to new PIs seeking funding from
NIGMS and established PIs who have current NIGMS funding for a research project. These
provide support for a program of research that falls within the mission of NIGMS. These
projects are not defined by a set of aims.
Open to all PIs. These are defined research projects with a set of Aims.
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