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NIH Changes Policy on Research Grant Resubmissions

March 18, 2014— The National Institutes of Health (NIH) April 17 announced a change in policy on resubmissions for research grant applications. For research project grant applications due after April 16, 2014, following an unsuccessful resubmission application, applicants may submit the same idea as a new application for the next appropriate due date.

The policy states that the agency will not assess the similarity of the science in the new application to any previously reviewed submission when accepting an application for review. The new policy, effective immediately, also applies to applications submitted to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Until 2009, investigators who had submitted applications for NIH research project grants were permitted two opportunities to revise and resubmit those applications, based on the comments and other feedback provided by the agency’s peer review process. After an extensive reexamination of its peer review procedures, NIH changed the policy to permit only one resubmission for a revised application, moving in effect from “three strikes” to two in terms of the number of opportunities for an application to be funded.

NIH believed that the two strike policy would remove some of the delay in funding meritorious proposals, and in fact, more proposals were subsequently funded after only one review. However, the policy generated concerns with many investigators who believed it simply decreased opportunities for approval of their best considered ideas.

In her blog, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Sally Rockey, Ph.D., explained that a key part of the prior policy was that applications not accepted after two rounds had to be “substantially different in content and scope” to be eligible for later submission as a new application. The new policy permits such applications to be resubmitted in later review cycles.

Additionally, Dr. Rockey noted that the agency was responding to concerns that new or early career investigators carried an extra burden to demonstrate that a later proposal was entirely new and sufficiently different from a prior application. Younger investigators are often intensely focused on particular areas of research, and they have not yet had opportunities to develop the data or experience that generates widely varying approaches for their research proposals. She explained that NIH will monitor the impact, if any, that the policy change has on the number of applications received by NIH. 


Stephen Heinig
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0488


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