Principal Investigators Association

NIH Review Process From A to Z: An Insiders View

NIH Review Process from A to Z: An Insider’s View

  • 60 Minute On-Demand Webinar
  • Available in CD, MP4 or PDF Transcript

Once you have submitted your application to NIH, it goes through a few levels of review. First, the Center for Scientific Review performs a cursory assessment, checking for errors that automatically disqualify an application.

If there are no errors, the center sends your proposal to the group of reviewers known as the IRG. From there, your application goes to a study section (SRG).

The SRG is composed of roughly 20 scientists, mostly non-federal, who have expertise in relevant disciplines and current research areas. The scientific review officer (SRO), who is an NIH staff member, leads this group and appoints a few key reviewers to analyze your proposal in detail. The remaining members scan your application, reading only certain sections in depth.

The study section votes and scores your application on the five review criteria: Significance, Innovation, Approach, Investigator(s) and Environment. The group also evaluates your project’s Overall Impact. The SRO compiles a summary statement that includes your application’s scores as well as a more detailed critique.

After the SRG’s assessment, your application goes to institute/center national advisory councils for review. Councils are composed of both scientists and lay members chosen for their expertise and activity relating to health and disease. Your application is only eligible for funding if both the study section and the institute/center advisory council recommend it. 


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This Webinar presentation is brought to you as a training tool by the Principal Investigators Association, which is an independent organization. The presentation, tools presented and their contents are not connected with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nor are they endorsed by this agency. All views expressed are those personally held by the presenter and are not official government policies or opinions.


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