To find which government agency (institute, center, or program) is best to contact to discuss your project, look at what each agency funded in the past and find one that funds projects similar to yours. Each agency (HHS, NSF, Education, Navy, Energy, NASA, etc.) has a different way of submitting and reviewing proposals. Review the website of the agency you choose and learn their specific process.
Tips on Identifying Which NIH Agency to Contact
You should apply for funding from the NIH institute with a mission that aligns with your research. There are 27 institutes at the NIH, for example, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).
- Look up your topic in NIH RePorter/Matchmaker, a searchable database of NIH-funded projects, to find related research that is already funded and what institutions funded them. Several search approaches are available; the Matchmaker is particularly useful and versatile.
- Use NIH RePorter/Matchmaker to conduct a keyword search of your topic or research area. Enter text from your abstract and aims to learn which institute funds projects like yours and which project officer to contact. You can learn what projects they have funded and how to distinguish your project from them or use the information to find collaborators.
- Also, use Grants.gov‘s search grants and the NIH’s “Find Grant Funding” search tool to learn about other grant opportunities (funding opportunity announcements – FOAs). Grants.gov includes funding opportunities outside of the NIH.
- Review the NIH Institute and Center contact information and look for the best fit.
- Review the potential agency’s website for its mission, strategic plans, portfolio areas, and research priorities. Look at what types of applications they do and do not want and what they have funded in the past. This information is on their websites, in webinars they host, and also in the Omnibus Solicitation.
- Choose an agency, center, or institute that fits your subject area. Also, consider your customer. The right customer varies by agency.
- If you are still not sure which institute is a good fit, you can write a brief description of your proposed research to the NIH’s SBIR office.
Which Program Official to Contact
- Find the program officials (POs) at each institute. They are also called program officers. After identifying an agency that is a good fit. . .
- Use the NIH’s Matchmaker database search tool to search within that agency and find program officials who manage proposals similar to yours.
- You may also find PO contact information through “Engage and Connect.”
- POs are also listed on funding opportunity announcements (FOAs).
- Reach out to the agency you are considering at the start of the grant process and continue contact through submission. Also, sign up for any related newsletter or social media information, such as Twitter, offered by the agency.
- You can email program officials a one-page executive summary, abstract, or specific aims page from your proposal to give them an overview of your project and its commercial potential. Some government agencies, such as the Department of Education or the National Science Foundation, consider this step a requirement.
Tip: Ideally, start writing a proposal at least six months or more before the due date. Start contacting an NIH program official around the same time.
Did You Know? There may be other agencies interested in funding your research besides the obvious ones. For example, aside from the NIH for healthcare-related funding, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense also sponsor some healthcare research.