skip navigation

S M L Text size
Home » Grants and Funding » Funding Mechanisms Supported by NEI

Funding Mechanisms Supported by NEI


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers over 210 types of awards (or grant mechanisms). These codes define a generically similar group of support programs. The National Eye Institute (NEI) ONLY supports the 24 mechanisms listed in the following section.

F31, F32
K08, K12, K23, K99
L30, L40
R00, R01, R13, R15, R21, R24, R34, R41, R42, R43, R44
T32, T35
U10, U13

Investigators who are interested in applying for NEI support are encouraged to contact NEI extramural program staff for NEI programs and research priorities, special NEI application guidelines, additional information, and advice before submitting an application. Potential applicants proposing to conduct a clinical trial should consult information regarding NEI Guidelines for Data and Safety Monitoring.

Electronic and paper application kits (with forms) are available on line at A wealth of general information about NIH extramural research and training programs, NIH grants policy, administrative responsibilities of awardees, and NIH award data that includes access to the RePORTER database are available on the NIH Web site at

PLEASE NOTE: The material below should be read in conjunction with information presented in the FOA section of the NEI Grants and Funding website ( FOAs ARE FREQUENTLY UPDATED!


Mechanisms Supported by NEI

Individual Fellowship Awards

Career Development Awards


The NEI does not impose any salary restriction beyond the legislatively-imposed annual salary cap, see Salary requests should be reasonable and conform to the established, consistently-applied policy of the institution for other staff members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibility. Requested salary should reflect no more than the percentage of time actually devoted to the project. All K-series awards provide funds for research expenses in addition to salary. The NIH has recently clarified its policy regarding leave, percent effort, and part-time appointments on a K award. Please consult

Comprehensive information regarding NIH Career Development awards can be found on the K Kiosk at Investigators interested in submitted a Career Development application should consult the Kiosk for the current versions of forms and Funding Opportunity Announcements.

The K99/R00 has broad eligibility requirements (see below). For all other mechanisms described in this section, only US citizens, non-citizen nationals, or individuals lawfully admitted to the US for permanent residence are eligible for K-series awards. Candidates must have a clinical doctoral degree (typically DDS, DVM, MD, or OD) or its equivalent PhD or other doctoral degree in a clinical discipline (such as clinical genetics or rehabilitation).

The NEI will not accept K-series applications which propose to conduct a new, free-standing clinical trial or clinical study. Clinician scientists seeking training in the conduct of clinical trials or clinical studies should instead propose an ancillary study within an on-going research program. See

Loan Repayment Awards

NEI actively supports L-Series awards designed to attract health professionals to careers in clinical or pediatric research. In exchange for a two-year commitment to a research career, these awards will repay up to $35,000 of qualified educational debt plus the tax burden associated with this benefit. The original two year award may be renewed once. Only US citizens, non-citizen nationals, or individuals lawfully admitted to the US for permanent residence are eligible for L-series awards. Candidates must have a clinical doctoral degree from an accredited institution. Detailed information and access to the on-line application process is available at

Center Core Grants

This program is designed to enhance an institution's environment and capability to conduct vision research, to facilitate collaborative studies of the visual system and its disorders, and to attract scientists of diverse disciplines to research on the visual system. Institutions must hold a minimum of eight NEI awards for basic research in order to be eligible.

Only the following grant mechanism is appropriate in determining eligibility:

Research Project Grant (R01)

Grants in an administrative extension, regardless of funds, are not eligible.

Core Grants are typically organized into units or modules, each devoted to a specific activity that would be impractical or undesirable to support on an individual research project. NEI provides up to $2M direct costs over a five year period for institutions which hold from eight to 19 NEI awards. Institutions which hold 20 or more NEI basic research awards may receive up to $2.5M direct costs for five years.

Research Project Grants

This grant, generally made for a period of three, four, or five years, supports a discrete, circumscribed research project. Also known as the traditional or regular NIH research grant, this is the principal mechanism of NEI support for investigator-initiated basic research conducted by both new and more experienced scientists. The NEI participates in several specialized programs or initiatives that utilize the R01 grant mechanism; these are described in the FOA section of this website.

These awards support high quality conferences/scientific meetings that are relevant to vision research. The NIH Conference Grant Website has been created to centralize information regarding the funding of scientific gatherings, symposia, meetings, workshops, or other organized, formal meetings where persons assemble to coordinate, exchange, and disseminate information or to explore or clarify a defined subject, problem, or area of knowledge (consult The NEI is highly selective in its choice of scientific areas and investigators are urged to contact the NEI Research Resources Officer at 301-451-2020 to obtain prior written approval before submitting an application. This written approval must be included in the grant application. U13 Cooperative Agreement Conference Grants are generally investigator-initiated but involve substantial interactions with NEI staff. Applicants should discuss their interest in a U13 application with the appropriate NEI staff member (call 301-451-2020). The application should discuss the proposed role of the NEI staff member, as well as agreed-upon Terms and Conditions of the potential award.

Applicants are urged to consult the NIH AREA program web site at This award makes special efforts to support investigators at domestic institutions that that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of the Nation's research scientists but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. The maximum amount of this award is up to $300,000 direct costs for a period up to three years. The AREA grant is renewable.

The NEI accepts investigator-initiated exploratory/developmental grants under the NIH Omnibus R21 announcement. This program provides direct costs up to $275,000 over a two year period, with no more than $200,000 direct costs allowed in any single year. This mechanism encourages studies which may involve considerable risk while possibly leading to a breakthrough in a particular scientific area. The mechanism also supports the development of novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models, or applications that could have a major impact on vision research. The NEI also supports several specialized programs or initiatives which utilize the R21 grant mechanism ; these are described in the FOA section of the NEI website.

These grants support research projects that will enhance the capability of resources to serve biomedical research. The NEI only accepts R24 applications in response to specific Funding Opportunity Announcements.

This program is designed to assist in the development of a comprehensive research protocol for a large-scale clinical trial or epidemiologic study. This may include preliminary studies to refine study procedures, document recruitment potential, and/or prepare a detailed Manual of Procedures. The program provides up to $150,000 annual direct costs for up to two years. Applicants are encouraged to contact one of the Collaborative Clinical Research Program Directors (Mr. Donald F. Everett, Dr. Natalie Kurinij, Dr. Steven R. Oversby, Dr. Maryann Redford, or Dr. Eleanor Schron) at 301-451-2020 when beginning to prepare an application.

Small Business Grants

Please consult for the NIH omnibus solicitations, NIH policy announcements, and NEI-specific information regarding these programs.

STTR Program

These investigator-initiated awards facilitate cooperative research and development between small business concerns (not less than 40% of the proposed work) and research institutions (not less than 30% of the work), where commercialization is the primary goal of the project. From time to time the NEI solicits STTR applications in a particular program area through an FOA. Phase I awards normally may not exceed $150,000 total costs for a one year period. Phase II awards normally may not exceed $1,000,000 total costs over a two year period.

SBIR Program

These investigator-initiated awards have the objective of establishing the technical merit and feasibility of research and development activities which ultimately may lead to a commercial product or service. The Principal Investigator must have at least 50% time and effort associated with the small business concern. Normally Phase I awards may not exceed $150,000 total costs for a six month period. Phase II awards provide support for up to $1,000,000 total costs for up to two years.

Institutional Training Grants

These awards are made to support several pre- and post-doctoral trainees within a formal program established by an institution of higher learning. Funds are provided for stipends and other expenses such as tuition and fees, health insurance, research supplies, equipment, and travel. The training program may be focused on a single scientific discipline or may more broadly include several disciplines relevant to vision research. The Program Director at the institution selects the trainees. Trainees must be citizens, non-citizen nationals, or have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Updated information regarding application forms, Funding Opportunity Announcements, and policy changes is available on the NIH training website,

Collaborative Clinical Research Cooperative Agreements

This mechanism are used whenever there is a demonstrated need for the substantial involvement NEI program staff during the performance of the activity. The use of this mechanism should be made on the basis of the existence of the assistance relationship and the need for substantial staff involvement. In some cases a project will be converted to a U when circumstances arise that make it clear that the activity requires assistance/substantial involvement with NEI staff. Applicants are encouraged to contact one of the Collaborative Clinical Research Program Directors (Mr. Donald F. Everett, Dr. Natalie Kurinij, Dr. Steven R. Oversby, Dr. Maryann Redford, or Dr. Eleanor Schron) at 301-451-2020 when beginning to prepare an application. While preparing the application, Principal Investigators should remember to include the following material in the appendix:

Surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments, clinical protocols, and informed consent documents.

Full-sized glossy photographs of material such as tables, electron micrographs, or gels which were included in the Research Plan at reduced size.

Policy Information Regarding Clinical Research Applications

Long Term Follow Up for Patients in Gene Transfer Protocols See the NIH-wide policy at

Research Supplements

Before submitting any application for a research supplement, you should consult with the NEI Research Resources Officer.

NIH recently developed two new pilot processes for submitting administrative supplement requests:

Please consult for full details.

NEI participates in an NIH-wide program to accept requests for additional funds to meet increased costs that are within the scope of an approved award and were unforeseen when the most recent competitive or non-competitive application was submitted. All funding mechanisms supported by the NEI are eligible for consideration under this program. Requests may be submitted at any time, but are highly dependent upon the availability of funds.

NEI also participates in NIH-wide programs to supplement certain research grant mechanisms in order to extend opportunities for participation in biomedical research to individuals with high potential to reenter an active research career after taking time off to attend to family responsibilities and to individuals who would increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. The grant to be supplemented must be at a domestic institution and must have at least two years of support remaining at the time of the proposed beginning date of the supplemental funding. In all cases, the proposed research must be directly related to the funded and approved ongoing research of the parent grant or cooperative agreement. A request for a supplement may be made at any time during the funding year. The administrative supplement applications are submitted directly to the NEI, and the decision to fund a supplement typically takes six to eight weeks from the time necessary information is received.

Supplements to Promote Reentry Into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers. The aim of these supplements is to encourage fully trained individuals to reenter research careers within the mission of the NEI. Candidates must be US citizens, non-citizen nationals, or individuals who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of applications. The program will provide administrative supplements to existing NEI R01, R24, R41, R42, R43, R44, RC2, RC3, RC4, and U10 grants for the purpose of supporting full- or part-time research by individuals who have taken time off an active research career. Usually, a research grant would support only one administrative supplement. It is anticipated that at the completion of the supplement, the reentry scientist will be in a position to apply for a career development or a research grant award. Supplemental awards may be made for up to three years. The requested salary and fringe benefits for the reentry candidate must be in accordance with the salary structure of the grantee institution, consistent with the level of effort which must be at least 50%. An additional amount up to $10,000 may be requested for supplies, domestic travel, and publication costs relevant to the proposed research. These applications are to be submitted on the paper version of the PHS 398. See for the full text of the announcement.

Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research. The goal of this program is to improve the diversity of the research workforce. The program seeks to recruit and support eligible investigators from groups which have been underrepresented. Individuals from the high school through the faculty level may be proposed for funding. The program is NOT intended to provide an alternative or additional means of supporting individuals who already receive support from an NIH research grant. Administrative supplements will be provided to existing NEI R01, R24, R41, R42, R43, R44, RC2, RC3, RC4, and U10 grants. Funds may be requested for salary and additional research-related expenses appropriate to the level of the individual proposed for supplemental support. These applications are to be submitted on the paper version of the PHS 398. See for the full text of the announcement.

Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp). Normally, application budgets are limited to no more than the amount of the most recent parent award, and must always reflect the actual needs of the proposed project. However, under limited circumstances, highly contingent on the availability of funds, the NEI will provide additional funds for unanticipated expenses within the original scope of the project. Examples of such situations include the provision of funds to replace essential equipment which has become non-functional, to meet unexpected increases in animal care costs linked to new Federal or local regulations, to allow purchase of new state-of-the-art instrumentation, or to achieve certain new research objectives. Any proposed cost increase MUST result from making modifications to the project that would increase or preserve the originally-approved objectives and purchases. See

Last Updated: June 2012

Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health