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Information on DCB Funding Mechanisms

The Division of Cancer Biology uses a variety of funding mechanisms to support investigator-initiated cancer biology research at academic institutions and research foundations. Below are some additional details on how the main mechanisms work.

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)

A publicly available document by which a Federal agency makes known its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually as a result of competition for funds.

Funding opportunity announcements may be known as program announcements, requests for applications, notices of funding availability, solicitations, or other names depending on the agency and type of program (see below).

In addition, NIH and other HHS Agencies have developed omnibus Parent Announcements for common grant mechanisms that have transitioned to electronic submission, for use by applicants who wish to submit what were formerly termed “unsolicited” or "investigator-initiated" applications.

Program Announcement (PA) – including PARs and PASes

  • Identifies areas of increased priority and/or emphasis on a specific area of science
  • Usually accepted on standard receipt dates on an ongoing basis
  • Remains active for three years from date of release unless the announcement indicates a specific expiration date or the NIH Institute/Center (I/C) inactivates sooner (see January 13, 2005 NIH Guide Notice for more information on Expiration Dates)
  • Special Types:
    • PAR: A PA with special receipt, referral and/or review considerations, as described in the PAR announcement
    • PAS: A PA that includes specific set-aside funds as described in the PAS announcement

Request for Application (RFA)

  • Identifies a more narrowly defined area for which one or more NIH institutes have set aside funds for awarding grants
  • Usually has a single receipt (received on or before) date specified in the RFA announcement
  • Usually reviewed by a Scientific Review Group convened by the issuing awarding component

Notices of Special Interest (NOSI)

  • Succinctly highlight a specific topic of interest, for example a specific area of research or program
  • Direct applicants to one or more active FOAs (often parent announcements) for submission of applications for the initiative described

Traditionally, NIH has posted numerous program announcements with standard submission and review requirements that vary from one another only in the scientific topics highlighted. Notices of special interest streamline how NIH announces areas of interest by focusing on the unique aspects of the opportunities (the topic areas) and deferring to existing, active FOAs for the submission logistics. Many program announcements will be issued as NOSIs going forward. NIH’s move from program announcements to these special notices in no way diminishes our interest in these scientific topics. 

For more on Notices of Special Interest, see the full Guide Notice and the related FAQs.

Notice (NOT)

  • Announces policy and procedures, changes to RFA or PA announcements, RFPs and other general information items
  • Inquiries about specific Notices, PAs, and RFAs published in the NIH Guide, should be directed to the NIH staff member(s) identified in each announcement

Numbering System

  • PA Numbering includes the type, year, and serial number.
    EXAMPLE: PA-10-008 indicates a PA issued in 2010 or for funding in 2010 (10) with an associated serial number (008).
  • RFA Numbering includes the type, issuing institute, year, and serial number.
    EXAMPLE: RFA-CA-10-004 Indicates an RFA issued by NCI (CA) in 2010 or for funding in 2010 (10) with an associated serial number (004).
  • Notice Numbering includes the type, issuing office, year, and serial number.
    EXAMPLE: NOT-OD-10-025 Indicates a Notice issued by the NIH Office of the Director (OD) in Fiscal Year 2010 (10) with an associated serial number (025).
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