Notices of Special Interest: Improve your NOSI know-how
Longtime readers of this blog may remember that back in 2018, NIA adopted a new strategy for announcing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research topics we hoped to support. Instead of publishing a separate Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on each topic, we created two “parent” Alzheimer’s and related dementias FOAs — PAR-19-070 and PAR-19-071 — and then issued a series of “child” notices that outlined the areas of research that fell within the purview of those parents. Notices can be published much more quickly than FOAs, so this parent/child system was a faster, more agile approach to soliciting applications in specific areas of Alzheimer’s and related dementias research.
At the time, NIA was one of only a handful of Institutes and Centers (ICs) at NIH to utilize this method for publicizing research interests. Just a few months later, however, NIH expanded and formalized the use of “child” notices, giving them an official name: Notices of Special Interest, or NOSIs.
What exactly is a NOSI?
A NOSI is an announcement published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts that describes a specific topic an IC is interested in supporting, such as a particular area of research or program.* The NOSI then directs applicants to one or more active FOAs to which they can submit applications on that topic.
In most cases, NOSIs do not include information regarding application deadlines, budget, project periods, eligibility, review considerations, and award administration. Instead, NOSIs refer to the active FOAs for such rules, requirements, and instructions. NOSIs stay focused on the topic at hand to help applicants understand the scientific intent without getting bogged down in administrative logistics.
How do you apply to a NOSI?
Each NOSI has a section called “Application and Submission Information” that lists the active FOAs through which applications can be submitted. There may be multiple such FOAs, so be sure you choose the most applicable one based on your proposed research project. (For example, if you’re not proposing a clinical trial, make sure you’re not applying to an FOA that requires them.)
The NOSI may also include additional submission-related instructions in that section. Be sure to read that information carefully: In cases where the application instructions in a NOSI and its “parent” FOA differ, the instructions in the NOSI take precedence! In particular, you’ll see that every NOSI includes a sentence directing applicants to put the notice number (i.e., “NOT-AG-21-###”) in box 4B, the Agency Routing Identifier field, of the SF424 R&R form. Please make sure to do this because if you do not, NIH has no way of knowing that you’re applying to an FOA via a NOSI, and your application may be withdrawn by the NIH Division of Receipt and Referral as being nonresponsive to the FOA.
Know thy NOSI
Of course, before you can apply to a NOSI, you have to actually find it. There are two main ways to see active NOSIs:
- Search on the NIH Guide website. To view a list of NOSIs in which NIA participates, select “NIA” under “Organizations” and “Notice of Special Interest” under “Type of Funding Opportunities.”
- Go to an FOA that interests you and look in the "Related Notices" section. If the FOA has affiliated NOSIs, you’ll see a link called “See Notices of Special Interest Associated With This Funding Opportunity.” For example, here is the list of NOSIs associated with NIH’s parent R01 announcement.
You may now “notice” that NIH is publishing comprehensive lists of NOSIs associated with a parent announcement on its website. This makes it easier for applicants to see at a glance which NOSIs are part of the FOA instead of clicking through each one. As always, if you have any questions, get in touch with the NIH staff contact listed at the end of the NOSI.
Why are we telling you about NOSIs now?
In the three years since we published the parent Alzheimer's disease FOAs, interest in Alzheimer’s and related dementias research has grown steadily, and those parent FOAs are set to expire this November. We are currently gearing up to reissue those FOAs along with many associated NOSIs. Be on the lookout for a blog post announcing the new versions later this fall!
* A note for seasoned applicants: NOSIs essentially replaced nonparent program announcements (PAs). PAs were fairly cumbersome to publish because they were a type of FOA, whereas NOSIs are a type of notice and thus come with less administrative burden.