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How to Apply for an NIDCD Grant

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The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports and conducts research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. It does this through a program of grants and contracts in basic, clinical, and translational research. The NIDCD supports a wide range of research approaches, including molecular genetics, biomedical imaging, nanotechnology, linguistics, psychoacoustics, structural biology, and the development of assistive and augmentative devices.

The NIDCD supports research that leads to scientific discovery. NIDCD-supported research has made important contributions to the body of knowledge needed to help those who experience communication disorders and to advance our understanding of all aspects of human communication. In both Fiscal Year 2009 and Fiscal Year 2010, the NIDCD funded more than 1,200 grants. In addition, 450 research projects received stimulus funding during those two fiscal years from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. For more information on the NIDCD’s ARRA activities, go to:

The NIDCD helps shape and sustain scientists at all stages of their careers—from high school students to senior scientists. Whether you’re interested in conducting a small feasibility study or a large clinical trial, the NIDCD offers a variety of funding mechanisms to support a broad range of research ideas.

This page provides brief descriptions of the research mechanisms the NIDCD offers. For more complete descriptions, requirements, and information about additional opportunities, go to:


What research mechanisms are available?

Investigator-Initiated Research Grant (R01)
The R01 supports original research proposed by principal investigators. R01s represent the largest category of NIDCD support. R01s are awarded to organizations on behalf of
individual principal investigators based on strong proposals and investigator competence. Applicants need pilot data and a publication record.

Note: Applicants must submit a research strategy (not to exceed 12 pages, plus one page for specific aims) as part of the electronic application process. To read the funding opportunity
announcement, go to:

The NIDCD Small Grant Program (R03)
The R03 supports newly independent investigators and advanced postdoctoral fellows within seven years of completing their terminal degree (excluding years of clinical training), transitioning to research independence. The R03 provides for up to three years of support to conduct pilot or feasibility studies that will launch a research program. Or, an R03 can provide one year of support for emerging clinician scientists so that they may acquire pilot or feasibility data to launch a successful K08 or K23 award.

Note: Applicants must submit a research strategy (not to exceed six pages, plus one page for specific aims) as part of the electronic application process. To read the funding opportunity
announcement, go to:

Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) (R15)
Stimulates research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of our nation’s research scientists, but which, historically, have not been major recipients of NIH support.

To read the funding opportunity announcement, go to:

Exploratory Grant (R21)
Encourages exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of these projects.

To read the funding opportunity announcement, go to:

Research Core Center Grant (P30)
Supports one or more core resources to promote a cooperative interaction among basic and/or clinical investigators in a manner that will enrich the effectiveness of ongoing research and promote new research directions. Research cores should furnish a group of investigators who have existing NIDCD-funded R01 research projects with some service, technique, assay, or instrumentation in a manner that will enhance the research in progress.

To read the funding opportunity announcement, go to:

Clinical Research Center Grant (P50)
Supports an investigator-initiated research program in which a team of investigators works in a clearly defined clinical area of mutual scientific interest. The subjects, data, or tissue being studied must represent a population with a human communication disorder.

To read the funding opportunity announcement, go to:

Small Business Innovation Research Program Grant (SBIR) (R43/R44)
Provides support for research and development of commercial products.

To read the funding opportunity announcement, go to:

Small Business Technology Transfer Program Grant (STTR) (R41/R42)
Supports the development of commercial projects by collaboration between small business concerns and research institutions.

To read the funding opportunity announcement, go to:

Other Opportunities
The NIDCD offers additional mechanisms and provides announcements of initiatives designed to stimulate science in promising or needed areas.

To find out more about other mechanisms and opportunities, go to:


How do I apply?

There are four important steps.

1. Contact the NIDCD.
Talk about your idea with the NIDCD staff member who is responsible for the scientific area of your research. These scientists, called program officers or health scientist administrators, are listed at the end of this page. They will be able to help you with questions. You also will want to review the NIDCD Strategic Plan to learn about research priorities of the institute.

To review the NIDCD Strategic Plan, go to:

2. Register in the NIH eRA Commons.
NIH eRA Commons is a secure meeting place on the Web where research organizations and grantees electronically receive and transmit information about the administration of biomedical and behavioral research grants. Applicants electronically access the status of their applications and grantees access the status of their awards, submit reports, and make requests.

For information about registering, go to:

3. Access current application guidelines.
Visit to select the appropriate grant mechanism for your research goals. There, you will also find additional information about each program area and detailed contact information for the NIDCD staff.

4. Submit your application, noting all deadlines and requirements.
The SF424 (Research & Related) grant application form is used for electronic submission and has largely replaced the paper application forms. Standard paper forms, such as PHS 398 and PHS 416, are still used for some types of grant applications.

Electronic grant applications must be submitted in response to a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). NIH has developed Parent Announcements for use by applicants who wish to submit what were formerly termed investigator initiated or unsolicited applications. Investigators need to apply using the electronic application package for the chosen mechanism, listed in the table at:

Remember to talk with NIH Grants Information staff (e-mail: and with your institution’s sponsored research office.

For more information, go to:


Then what happens? Where does my proposal go?

After you submit your application to the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR),, scientists at CSR assign each application to both an initial review group called a study section and to an institute. The assignment is based on the scientific emphasis of the proposed research and guidelines about the expertise in each study section. Assignment to a study section is independent of assignment to the institute. Reviewers will evaluate applications to determine:

  • Significance of problem addressed
  • Experience of Investigator
  • Level of Innovation
  • Appropriateness of approach
  • Scientific environment

If your proposal is deemed to be in the upper half of the applications received, the application will be given an impact score. It may also receive a percentile score based upon its scientific merit and how it ranks within the larger group of applications reviewed in that group. A summary statement of review comments and scores are posted on the NIH eRA Commons, where principal investigators can retrieve them.

If the application is scored, it receives a second level of review by the NIDCD Advisory Council. The Council is a committee of scientists and knowledgeable public members who provide the NIDCD with programmatic and policy advice about its programs. NIDCD Council members evaluate the fairness and appropriateness of an initial review and provide additional advice. Once the NIDCD Council approves an application, final funding decisions are made based on scientific merit, program relevance, and available funds.

Of the grants submitted to the NIDCD in one year, typically about one-third are funded.

Note: Funding of grants is based upon merit and relevance, not upon any predetermined allocation to a program area.


How long does the process take?

For the typical grant application, it takes at least nine months from the time the application is received until the grant award is made.


What training and career development mechanisms are available?

The NIDCD offers several training programs, including several listed below.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (F31/F32)
Provides up to five years of predoctoral support or up to three years of postdoctoral support.

Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08/K23)
Fosters the development of highly promising clinician-scientists into independent investigators who integrate fundamental research or patient-oriented research into their clinical practice.

Research Career Transition Award (K99/R00)
Provides dual-phase support to nurture postdoctoral level scholars to the independent investigator stage.

For more information about the full spectrum of training program opportunities and eligibility requirements, go to: or read “NIDCD and Your Research Career.”


What is the plain language initiative for NIH grant applications?

It is vital that the NIH makes information about the scientific projects that we fund available to the public and Congress in a way that clearly relays the value and potential impact of the research on public health.

You can help us achieve this goal by clearly communicating the intent and value of your research using clear, succinct, professional language in titles, abstracts, and statements of public health relevance in your NIH grant application. Once funded, these parts of your application are available to Congress and the public via the NIH’s RePORTER website at:

For more information, go to: [access restricted to NIH users only]


Additional information: Research, training, and review contacts Division of Scientific Programs (DSP)

Manages the research and research training portfolios of grants and contracts for the NIDCD. Your scientific program officer will be a key resource for you.

Judith Cooper, Ph.D., Director

Amy Donahue, Ph.D., Deputy Director

Hearing and Balance

Amy Donahue, Ph.D.
psychoacoustics, cochlear mechanics, noise-induced hearing
loss, cochlear implants

Bracie Watson, Ph.D.
clinical and molecular genetics, otitis media, immune-mediated
ear diseases

Nancy Freeman, Ph.D.
molecular and developmental biology, transduction

Roger Miller, Ph.D.
auditory and other neural prostheses, tinnitus

Christopher Platt, Ph.D.
central pathways, temporal bone

Daniel Sklare, Ph.D.
clinical assessment and management

Janet Cyr, Ph.D.
peripheral pathways, presbycusis

Taste and Smell

Barry Davis, Ph.D.


Judith Cooper, Ph.D.

Voice and Speech

Lana Shekim, Ph.D.

Epidemiology and Statistics

Howard Hoffman, M.A.

Kathy Bainbridge, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Clinical Trials

Gordon Hughes, M.D.

Training and Career Development

Daniel Sklare, Ph.D.
institutional training grants and career development awards

Janet Cyr, Ph.D.
individual fellowship awards

For additional information about the NIDCD and its programs, visit our website at