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The Process of Getting an NIH Grant

NIA supports research and research training related to aging; specifically, basic biological, neuroscientific, behavioral and social research on aging and intervention studies, and clinical geriatric research. NIA does not support the provision of services. Although NIA's Intramural Research Program conducts research in its laboratories in Bethesda, MD, and in Baltimore, MD, NIA’s research funding largely is extramural (see NIA's Extramural Programs). This funding supports research institutions (e.g., universities, hospitals, or similar organizations). Information on NIH's overall extramural research programs is available at the NIH Office of Extramural Research.

Submission of Applications, Review, and Award

Submitting a Grant Application

Institutions submit grant applications to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), NIH, and those within the mission of NIA are assigned to NIA for funding consideration. CSR assigns the application's initial review either to one of its own review groups or assigns to NIA. The type of grant application largely determines whether it is reviewed at CSR or at NIA. Similar to other NIH Institutes, NIA is responsible for reviewing the following types of applications:

  • Program Project
  • Cooperative Agreement
  • Center Grant
  • Research Career Development
  • Scientific Meeting
  • Institutional Training Grant

Additionally, applications submitted in response to one of NIA's Requests for Applications (RFA) are generally reviewed by NIA. Similar review procedures are followed regardless of the locus of review (CSR versus NIA).

Initial Level of Review

This initial review, whether at CSR (see CSR Review) or at NIA (see NIA Review), is primarily conducted by committees of experts ("peers") recruited from universities and research laboratories. This review may be conducted by a standing review committee or by a Special Emphasis Panel. In both cases, the committee members assess: (1) the quality and originality of the science proposed; (2) the quality of the investigators; (3) the quality of the facilities; (4) the rigor and reproducibility; (5) the treatment of human subjects and animal welfare, if relevant; and (6) proposed recruitment plans for women and minorities in research involving humans. This review results in an overall rating of the scientific quality of the application. Please review Peer Review Policies and Practices on NIH OER website.

Second Level of Review 

The National Advisory Council on Aging provides a second review of the applications that were assigned to NIA. The National Advisory Council on Aging is comprised of scientists and public members and advises NIA and NIH on the appropriateness of the initial review and the scientific and public importance of the proposed work.


The Director of NIA approves payment of applications that have been favorably reviewed and for which sufficient funds are available. Primary weight is given to the perceived scientific quality of the application as judged by initial peer review. Consideration also is given to the proposed research’s relevance to NIA priorities and to the timeliness of the research. For general information about NIA’s extramural programs, contact DEAQuery@EXMUR.NIA.NIH.GOV.

Usually only a small number of recommended applications are awarded. NIA Program Officer is responsible for managing awards and interacting with the principal investigator to facilitate achievement of the project's goals and to ensure adherence to all necessary extramural policies and procedures. A grants management specialist also is assigned to the award and is responsible for the award's fiscal management and assuring the award recipient's institution complies with government policies. The grants management specialist is knowledgeable about allowable costs, various budgetary authorities, and fiscal accountability. The grants management specialist, review staff, and scientific program staff collaborate for issuance and management of the award.

Watch this video to learn more about NIA funding and how to build a quality application:

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