Thursday, 24 October 2013

The National Institute of Health application process explained

Jay Illesinghe 125.pdfDr Jay Illesinghe of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine presented on the application process at the National Institute of Health (NIH), at the SPHPM Seminar on Tuesday 22nd October.

The NIH is based near Washington, USA.  Dr Illesinghe had the opportunity to visit NIH in 2012, after being awarded a Monash University travel grant and further support from the Australasian Research Manager Society (ARMS).

As well as funding their own projects, the NIH is financially responsible for projects at over 4000 institutes around the world, including Monash’s ASPREE study.

Dr Illesinghe outlined the process for applying for an NIH grant.  It is compulsory for applicants to provide four key sets of numbers:  DUNS, NCAGE, SAMS, and an eRA Commons registration number, all of which Monash researchers can easily procure from the Monash Research Office (MRO).  Dr Illesinghe stressed that even project collaborators must also provide these numbers.

Dr. Illesinghe advised that it was easier for academics to be given a first-time grant from the NIH if they initially collaborate with an American institute, in order to establish a research reputation with the NIH, and develop a relationship with the relevant Program Manager.

Of particular importance on the application is the ‘Foreign Justification’ section, which requires applicants to clearly specify why their research cannot be carried out within the United States.

“You really need to make a strong case,” Dr Illesinghe said.

She also outlined the process necessary to apply for a grant, and emphasised that it could take about a year for any outcome.  If an application is rejected, comprehensive feedback will be provided from the institute, and applications can be re-submit up to three times.

Dr Illesinghe would encourage researchers to browse the 27 centres under the NIH umbrella for the one most suited to their particular project, and to apply at the website using Form C.  At the same time, it would be an excellent idea to sign up for email notifications from that particular institute.

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