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Getting a Grant from NCI: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are FAQs about the NCI grant application process, NIH grant policies, and peer review from the “Getting a Grant from NCI” webinar on April 21, 2022.

Should I include published abstracts instead of scientific papers in my Biosketch?

Including published abstracts shows productivity, especially if you recently established your lab, are moving into a new area, or have developed a new technology. However, if you predominantly have published abstracts, but not scientific papers, it may be considered a lack of productivity. 

Can I include pre-prints (such as a BioRxiv article) in my Biosketch?

Yes, NIH encourages PIs to use interim research products, such as preprints, to speed the dissemination and enhance the rigor of their work. Interim research products can be cited anywhere in a grant application where other research products are cited.

I am currently in a junior position. Is this going to affect my chances of getting an R01 grant? 

Not if you have expertise and a track record of publications. It would help to have a letter from the Department Chair ensuring that you have departmental support and access to resources. 

What things are important in a grant renewal application

Things to consider in a competitive renewal application can be found in a 2020 DCB New Grantee Workshop presentation.

Is preliminary data in a grant application meant to establish feasibility and experience with the methods, or is it to show the project is “in the works”? How much preliminary data should be included? 

Preliminary data does both – it establishes feasibility and shows your train of thought for interpreting data. There should be enough preliminary data to support each proposed aim and how the hypothesis was derived.

What is the success rate (i.e., percentage of reviewed grant applications that receive funding) for R01-grant applications at NCI?

In FY21, the NCI success rate for R01 applications was 12.9%. Additional data about success rates for NIH grant applications can be found at NIH RePORT.  

What are the chances of a resubmission application (A1) being awarded?

Some who were not discussed on first submission, are funded on resubmission. Some who were discussed on first submission, do worse on resubmission. There is really no way of saying what the “chances” are as it depends on how the application is modified and the reviewers’ interpretations of the modifications. The reviewers are not held to only the weaknesses identified during the review, even if the PI believes all the weaknesses noted are addressed. The reviewers can identify new issues/weaknesses.  

Are there different paylines at NCI for different areas of research (e.g., basic, translational, population science, clinical, etc.)? 

The NCI has a standard payline for some application types, such as investigator-initiated R01 applications. The money is not allocated on the basis of area (basic, translational or clinical).

In addition to the information below, other FAQs about Peer Review can be found at the Center for Scientific Review website.

In my resubmission applications (A1), I made revisions that addressed critiques from the review of the initial application. Why did my score get worse? 

Each time your application is submitted, it competes within a new set of applications, it may be evaluated by new reviewers, or one or more of the original reviewers may see new concerns. So, there is no guarantee your score will improve. The best course of action is to discuss your review concerns with your Program Officer/Program Director before you resubmit, and then be as responsive as possible to the concerns.

Some study sections have been reorganized and renamed. What are the reasons for this change and how will it impact study section assignments?

The CSR Evaluating Panel Quality in Review (ENQUIRE) process functions to align study sections with advances in science. Based on the recent ENQUIRE evaluation of clusters of study sections, changes have been made to facilitate the identification of high impact science. Information about the recently reorganized standing sections and topics that they cover can be found at the CSR ENQUIRE webpage

When will applications be assigned to the new study sections? 

The new study sections (based on the 2022 ENQUIRE evaluations) begin for upcoming May/June 2022 application deadlines, which have review dates in Fall 2022.

Where can we find the contact information for Scientific Review Officers (SROs) of the new study sections?

Once assigned, SROs for different study sections can be found at the “Regular Standing Study Sections and Continuing SEPs” webpage

Where can I find information about the policy for appeals of peer review?

Information about Appeals of NIH Initial Peer Review can be found in NOT-OD-11-064

If I become a Co-Principal Investigator (PI) of an R01 or R21 grant application, will I lose my ESI status?

No, you can be a Co-PI on an R01 and will not lose your ESI status. However, you will lose your ESI status with a multiple-PI (MPI) application unless all the other investigators are ESIs. ESI status is not affected by being a PI or co-PI on an R21.

Will having a senior PI as a collaborator disqualify my ESI status on R01?

Naming a senior PI as a collaborator on an application does not disqualify the ESI status (but see the previous question regarding the difference between a collaborator (co-PI) and a MPI). If the senior PI is a previous mentor, then it would be important to specify their role and “independence” from the science proposed in the application.

Can the ESI status be extended if research delays happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

You should reach out to the NIH Office of Extramural Research for information about extending ESI status. Additional information about this can be found in an NIH Open Mike Blog: Clarifying NIH’s Approach to Granting ESI Extensions.

When can a PI request an ESI extension? 

FAQs about Reasons for ESI Extension Requests can be found at the NIH Office of Extramural Research website

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