- Once your proposal is submitted, Grants.gov sends it to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), which reviews the proposal for compliance within about a week.
- The CSR refers the proposal to a study section composed of NIH staff and scientists outside of the NIH who will review the proposal. They assign each proposal to the study section that is the best fit. However, you can recommend a study section for your proposal in your cover letter for the CSR to consider. To find the best study section that fits your proposal, browse the CSR’s list of SBIR/STTR study sections, also known as Scientific Review Groups (SRGs), or use the CSR’s Assisted Referral Tool.
- The Scientific Review Officer (SRO), which is the NIH staff in charge of a scientific review group, confirms the proposal’s fitness for the study section and notes problems in the application, the scope of the project, and the expertise needed to evaluate it. They seek at least three reviewers with the expertise needed to evaluate your proposal and who do not have any conflicts of interest. They will send a notice of your assigned panel with the names of the people on the panel. You can request a reviewer be excluded, for example, if they are part of a directly competing business.
- Scientific review takes around two months. All proposals are reviewed, but only those scoring in the top half of a preliminary review are discussed or scored by the review group. The reviewers’ scores are combined to yield a single impact or priority score. The lower the score, the better. This score is sent to you in a summary statement along with comments from reviewers.
- The council that determines which proposals to fund meets around a month later. They consider the scores in combination with each institute’s mission. Impact or priority scores of 10 to 30 have the best chance of being funded. Scores of 31 to 45 have some chance of being funded. However, scores higher than 45 are rarely funded. It takes an additional couple of months after the council meets before you receive the reward.
Center for Scientific Review
NIH – Understand the Review Process – A brief outline.
NIA – Understanding the NIH Peer-Review Process – Video of an NIA SBIR/STTR office, virtual workshop. December 3, 2020. 2 hours.
NLM – Grants and Funding Extramural Program – FAQs on priority scores and summary statements.