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How to Apply for an NIDCD Grant


The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports and conducts research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. It does this through a program of grants and contracts in basic, clinical, and translational research. The NIDCD supports research that leads to scientific discovery and uses a wide range of biomedical and behavioral research approaches. NIDCD-supported research has made important contributions to the body of knowledge needed to help people with communication disorders and to advance our understanding of all aspects of human communication. The NIDCD helps scientists at all stages of their careers—from high school students to senior scientists. From a small feasibility study to a large clinical trial, the NIDCD offers a variety of funding mechanisms that support a broad range of research ideas.

Brief descriptions of the research mechanisms that the NIDCD offers follow.

The NIDCD is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDCD-funded research is conducted in public and private institutions across the country and at or near the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.


What research mechanisms are available?

Investigator-Initiated Research Grant (R01)

The R01 supports original research proposed by principal investigators. R01s represent the largest category of NIDCD support. R01s are awarded to organizations on behalf of individual principal investigators based on strong proposals and investigator competence. Applicants need pilot data and a publication record.

The NIDCD Small Grant Program (R03)

The NIDCD R03 supports pilot studies for newly independent investigators and advanced postdoctoral fellows within seven years of completing their terminal degree (excluding years of clinical training) and as they transition to research independence.

Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) (R15)

The R15 supports research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of our nation's research scientists, but which, historically, have not been major recipients of NIH support.

High Impact/Exploratory Grant (R21)

The R21 supports exploratory and developmental research projects for the early and conceptual stages of research. Applications for R21 awards should describe projects distinct from those supported through the traditional R01 mechanism.

Research Core Centers Grant (P30)

The P30 supports one or more core resources to encourage collaboration among basic and/or clinical investigators while enriching the effectiveness of ongoing research and promoting new research directions. Research core centers should provide a group of investigators who have existing NIDCD-funded R01 research projects with a service, technique, assay, or instrumentation that will enhance the research in progress.

Clinical Research Center Grant (P50)

The P50 supports an investigator-initiated research program in which a team of investigators works in a clearly defined clinical area of mutual scientific interest. The subjects, data, or tissue being studied must represent a population with a human communication disorder.

Small Business Innovation Research Program Grant (R43/R44)

The R43/R44 provides support for research and development of
commercial products.

Small Business Technology Transfer Program Grant (R41/R42)

The R41/R42 supports the development of commercial projects by collaboration between small businesses and research institutions.

Other Opportunities

The NIDCD offers additional mechanisms and provides announcements of initiatives designed to stimulate science in promising or needed areas. Please visit our Funding for Research page for more information.


How do I apply?

Follow these four important steps to apply.

1. Contact the NIDCD.

Talk about your idea with the NIDCD staff member who is responsible for the scientific area of your research. These scientists, called program officers, are listed here. They will be able to help answer your questions. You also will want to review the NIDCD Strategic Plan on the NIDCD website to learn about research priorities of the Institute.

2. Register in the NIH eRA Commons.

The NIH eRA Commons is a secure meeting place on the Internet where research organizations and grantees electronically receive and transmit information about the administration of biomedical and behavioral research grants. Applicants electronically access the status of their applications, and grantees access the status of their awards, submit reports, and make requests.

For information about registering, go to the "Forms and Deadlines" page on the NIH Office of Extramural Research website at

3. Access current application guidelines.

Visit the funding section of the NIDCD website to select the appropriate grant mechanism for your research goals. There, you will also find additional information about each program area and detailed contact information for the NIDCD staff.

4. Submit your application, noting all deadlines and requirements.

The SF 424 (Research & Related) grant application form is used for electronic submission and has largely replaced the paper application forms. However, standard paper forms, such as PHS 398 and PHS 416, are still used for some types of grant applications.

To respond to a Funding Opportunity Announcement, you must submit your application electronically. NIH has developed Parent Announcements for use by applicants who wish to submit what were formerly termed investigator initiated or unsolicited applications.

Use the electronic application package found on the "Parent Announcement" page on the NIH Office of Extramural Research website at

The NIDCD and the NIH encourage you to describe your research in terms that are easily understood by reviewers, scientists, Congress, and the public. Communicate the intent and value of your research by using clear and succinct language in titles, abstracts, and statements of public health relevance in your NIH grant application. Once funded, these parts of your application are available to Congress and the public via the NIH's RePORTER website.

For writing examples and tips, see the Grants Process Overview section on the NIH website at

Remember to work closely with your institution's sponsored research office as you develop your application. Once you apply, be certain that you see your submitted application in your NIH eRA Commons account.

Should you have problems in submitting, contact NIH Grants Information staff by e-mail at


What happens after I apply? Where does my application go?

After you successfully submit your application, it is assigned to both an initial review group, called a study section, and to an NIH Institute. The assignment is based on the scientific emphasis of the proposed research, as well as the expertise in each study section. Assignment to a study section is independent of assignment to an Institute.

The Scientific Review Officer of the study section then assigns your application to reviewers. These reviewers will evaluate your application to determine:

  • Significance of the problem addressed
  • Experience of the investigator
  • Level of innovation
  • Appropriateness of approach
  • Scientific environment

If your proposal is deemed to be in the upper half of the applications received, the application will be given an impact score. It may also receive a percentile score based upon its scientific merit and how it ranks within the larger group of applications reviewed in that group. Principal investigators can retrieve a summary statement of their review comments and scores from the NIH eRA Commons.

Scored applications receive a second level of review by the NDCD Advisory Council. The council is a committee of scientists and knowledgeable public members who provide the NIDCD with programmatic and policy advice about its programs. NIDCD council members evaluate the fairness and appropriateness of an initial review and provide additional advice to the NIDCD staff. Once the NIDCD council approves an application, the NIDCD makes final funding decisions based on scientific merit, program relevance, and available funds.

Of the grants submitted to the NIDCD in one year, typically about one-quarter are funded.

Note: Funding of grants is based upon merit and relevance, not upon any predetermined allocation to a program area.


How long does the process take?

The typical grant application takes at least nine months from the time the application is received until the grant award is made. For fellowship applications, the process often takes less time.


What training and career development mechanisms are available?

The NIDCD offers several training programs, including those listed below.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (F31/F32)

Provides up to five years of predoctoral support or up to three years of postdoctoral support.

Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08/K23)

Fosters the development of highly promising clinician-scientists into independent investigators who integrate fundamental research or patient-oriented research into their clinical practice.

Research Career Transition Award (K99/R00)

Provides dual-phase support to nurture postdoctoral-level scholars to the independent investigator stage.

For more information about the full spectrum of training program opportunities and eligibility requirements, read Launching Your NIDCD Research Career, available in print and on the NIDCD website.


Who can I contact at the NIDCD for guidance?

The Division of Scientific Programs manages the extramural research and the research training portfolios of grants and contracts for the NIDCD. Whatever your level of training need or career stage, there is a scientific program officer who can be a key resource for you. The following scientific program officers are available to assist you:

Scientific Program Staff

Judith A. Cooper, Ph.D.

Deputy Director
Amy M. Donahue, Ph.D.

Hearing and Balance

Janet Cyr, Ph.D.

Presbycusis, noise-induced hearing loss, peripheral auditory/vestibular system

Amy Donahue, Ph.D.

Psychoacoustics, cochlear mechanics, cochlear implants, clinical assessment and management

Nancy L. Freeman, Ph.D.

Cellular regeneration, development, transduction

Christopher Platt, Ph.D.
Central auditory and vestibular pathways, temporal bone

Roger Miller, Ph.D.
Biomedical engineering, neural prostheses, tinnitus

Bracie Watson, Ph.D.

Genetics, otitis media, immune-mediated ear diseases

Clinical Trials

Gordon Hughes, M.D.

Epidemiology and Statistics

Howard J. Hoffman, M.A.


Judith A. Cooper, Ph.D.

Voice and Speech

Lana Shekim, Ph.D.

Taste and Smell

Susan Sullivan, Ph.D.

Special Grants Programs

Small Grant (R03)
Bracie Watson, Ph.D.

AREA Grant (R15)
Christopher Platt, Ph.D.

High Impact/Exploratory Grant (R21)
Nancy Freeman, Ph.D.

Research Core Centers (P30)
Christopher Platt, Ph.D.

Clinical Research Center (P50)
Lana Shekim, Ph.D.

Training and Career Development (F, T, K)
Daniel A. Sklare, Ph.D.

Small Business Innovation Research/ Small Business Technology Transfer
Roger L. Miller, Ph.D.