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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 the Gerontology Research Center 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.

For more information, see the following:

Submission of Applications, Review, and Award

Submitting a Grant Application

Institutions submit grant applications to the CSR, NIH, and those within the mandate 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 assigned to CSR or to NIA. Similar to other NIH Institutes, NIA is responsible for reviewing the following applications:

  • Program Project
  • Center
  • Research Career
  • Scientific Meeting
  • Clinical Loan Repayment
  • Institutional Training Grant

In addition, applications that are submitted in response to Requests for Applications are generally reviewed by NIA. Similar review procedures are followed regardless of whether the review is conducted by CSR or NIA. NIA currently uses two stage review for Research Program Projects (P01).

Initial Level of Review

This initial review, whether at CSR or at NIA (see Scientific Review), is usually conducted by committees of experts ("peers") recruited from universities and research laboratories. The 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 (for 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 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 minority of recommended applications are awarded. A program administrator 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 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 awardee'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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