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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) regularly supports ONLY the 27 mechanisms listed in the following section. On occasion NEI will join a trans-NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) which employs some other mechanism, but this will not be a standard operation.

F30, F31, F32
K08, K12, K23, K99
L30, L40
R00, R01, R13, R15, R21, R24, R34, R41, R42, R43, R44
T32, T35
U10, U13, UG1

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 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm. 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 http://grants.nih.gov.

PLEASE NOTE: The material below should be read in conjunction with information presented in the FOA section of the NEI Grants and Funding website (http://www.nei.nih.gov/funding/app). FOAs ARE FREQUENTLY UPDATED!


Mechanisms Supported by NEI

Individual Fellowship Awards

  • F30 Individual Predoctoral M.D./Ph.D. or Other Dual-Doctoral Degree Fellowship
    This award provides a stipend and funds defray tuition, fees, health insurance, and research expenses for students matriculated in a combined-degree integrated research and clinical training program. Support is available for up to six years, with at least 50% of the award period devoted to graduate research training leading to the doctoral research degree.
  • F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity.

    The award provides a stipend and funds to help defray tuition, fees, health insurance, and research expenses. Support may not exceed five years. The only eligible individuals are those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • F31 Parent Individual Predoctoral Fellowship
    This award provides up to five years support for research training leading to the Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Support includes a stipend; funds to defray tuition and fees; and an institutional allowance for health insurance, research expenses, books, and travel to scientific meetings.
  • F32 Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship
    The award provides a stipend and funds to help defray tuition, fees, health insurance, and research expenses. Support is generally for two or three years and is done under the guidance of a mentor or committee of mentors described in the application.

Career Development Awards


The NEI does not impose any salary restriction beyond the legislatively-imposed annual salary cap, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm. 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 clarified its policy regarding leave, percent effort, and part-time appointments on a K award. Please consult http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-036.html

Comprehensive information regarding NIH Career Development awards can be found on the K Kiosk at http://grants.nih.gov/training/careerdevelopmentawards.htm. Investigators interested in submitting a Career Development application should consult the Kiosk for the current versions of forms and FOAs.

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 fund 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 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-EY-09-001.html

  • K08 Individual Physician Scientist Award
    This award supports an intensive, supervised research experience for clinicians who are committed to a career in research and have the potential to develop into independent investigators. Three to five years’ salary and research-related costs are provided for mentored didactic studies integrated with hands-on laboratory or clinical (biostatistics and epidemiology) research experiences.
  • K12 Institutional Clinical Scientist Development Program
    This award is made to an institutional program accommodating a number of candidates with varying levels of research experience who require an individualized, mentored career development experience. For information, please contact Dr. Neeraj Agarwal , 301-451-2020, agarwalnee@nei.nih.gov. Candidates interested in applying for a position within an institutional program should consult the Program Director at any of these funded sites:
    • Dr. Dmitri T. Azar, University of Illinois at Chicago
    • Dr. Scott Cousins, Duke University
    • Dr. Reza Dana, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
    • Dr. Thomas Gardner, University of Michigan
    • Dr. Maureen G. Maguire, University of Pennsylvania
    • Dr. Kenneth A. Polse, University of California School of Optometry Berkley
    • Dr. Harry A. Quigley, Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute
  • K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award

    Patient-oriented research is defined as research conducted with human subjects (or on material of human origin such as tissues, specimens, and cognitive phenomena for which an investigator directly interacts with human subjects). In all other aspects this individual award is equivalent to the K08 described above.
  • K99/R00 NIH Pathway to Independence (PI) Award

    This two-phase award is designed to facilitate receiving an R01 award earlier in an investigator’s research career. Phase I is a one to two year mentored research program. It is followed by up to three years of independent support contingent on securing an independent research position. Eligible candidates include foreign nationals as well as US citizens and citizen-nationals. Candidates may hold either a clinical or a research doctorate degree. Candidates must be within five years of their terminal professional degree.

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 http://www.lrp.nih.gov.

  • L30 Loan Repayment Program for Clinical Researchers
  • L40 Loan Repayment Program for Pediatric Research

Center Core Grants

  • P30 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.

Conference Grants

R13 and U13

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 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/r13/index.htm). The NEI is highly selective in its choice of scientific areas and investigators are urged to contact Dr. Houmam Araj at 301-451-2020, arajh@mail.nih.gov 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. Conference grant applications must be submitted well before the actual date of the conference, to allow time for post-Council administrative approvals.

Research Project Grants

  • R01 Research Project Grant

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.

  • R15 Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA)

Applicants are urged to consult the NIH AREA program web site at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/area.htm. 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.

  • R21 Exploratory/Developmental Grant

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.

  • R24 Resource-Related Research Project

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.

  • R34 Clinical Study Planning Grant

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. Maryann Redford, Dr. Eleanor Schron or Louise Wideroff) at 301-451-2020 when beginning to prepare an application.

Small Business Grants

Please consult http://www.nei.nih.gov/funding/app.asp for the NIH omnibus solicitations, NIH policy announcements, and NEI-specific information regarding these programs. The NEI small business coordinator is Jerome R. Wujek, 301-451-2020, wujekjer@mail.nih.gov.

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. NEI now permits applications for Phase IIB continuations. Potential applicants should consult with Dr. Jerome R. Wujek, 301-451-2020, wujekjer@mail.nih.gov regarding their particular situation and programmatic responsiveness.

  • R41 Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer Grant
  • R42 Phase II and IIB Small Business Technology Transfer Grant

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.

Phase IIB Competing Renewal Awards
The NEI will only accept SBIR Phase IIB Competing Renewal grant applications from Phase II SBIR awardees to continue the process of developing technologies that ultimately require federal regulatory approval or require extraordinary time and effort in the Research and Development phase. Such technologies include, but are not limited to, pharmacologic agents, biological products, and devices. These technologies should be clearly related to the mission of the NEI. This renewal grant should allow small businesses to reach a stage in the project where interest and investment by third parties is more likely. The Competing Renewal application must be a logical extension of a previously completed Phase II (R44) SBIR grant. NEI grantees seeking SBIR Phase IIB Competing Renewal funding must submit an application within a period no later than the first six receipt dates following expiration of the previous Phase II budget period. Budgets not to exceed $750,000 total costs per year and time periods up to two (2) years may be requested for this SBIR Phase IIB Competing Renewal opportunity.  Potential applicants are strongly advised to contact Dr. Jerome Wujek (contact information provided above) before beginning the process of putting an application together.

  • R42 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Award
  • R43 Phase II and IIB Small Business Innovation Research Award

The Small Business Program Switch

NEI will allow applicants to switch between STTR and SBIR programs, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-048.html. Effective February 1, 2014, the following transitions are permitted:

  • Phase I STTR to either SBIR or STTR Phase II
  • Phase I SBIR to either SBIR or STTR Phase II
  • Phase II STTR to either SBIR or STTR Phase IIB
  • Phase II SBIR to either SBIR or STTR Phase IIB

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, http://grants1.nih.gov/training/extramural.htm.

  • T32 Institutional Training Grant
    Note that NIH has consolidated the review criteria for T32 applications, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-074.html.
  • T35 Short-Term Training for Professional School Students
    These awards are intended to encourage graduate and/or health professional students to pursue research careers, through exposure to a short-term involvement in the health-related sciences.

Collaborative Clinical Research Cooperative Agreements

U10 and UG1

These mechanisms 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. Maryann Redford, Dr. Eleanor Schron, or Louise Wideroff) 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.

  • U10 Cooperative Clinical Research – Cooperative Agreements and UG1 Clinical Research Cooperative Agreements – Single Project
    NEI uses these award mechanisms to support clinical trials and other types of complex, fixed-protocol, clinical research. The applications are generally investigator-initiated, but entail substantial interactions among investigators and NEI staff. Applicants are urged to discuss their interests with an NEI program director when selecting a grant mechanism to support their study. Applicants should consult the following information when preparing a proposal for support under a cooperative agreement:

Research Supplements

Before submitting any application for a research supplement, you should consult with your NEI Program Director.

Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp).
NIH recently developed a Funding Opportunity Announcement for submitting administrative supplement requests.

Please consult http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-077.html for full details.

This program will 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. 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. All funding mechanisms supported by the NEI are eligible for consideration under this program. The R00, R15, and R21 mechanisms may receive supplemental funding above the established limits for the parent grant award, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-12-117.html. Requests may be submitted at any time, but are highly dependent upon the availability of funds.

NEI also participates in the following two 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. Dr. Houmam Araj, 301-451-2020, arajh@mail.nih.gov is the coordinator to answer general questions regarding the reentry/diversity supplements.

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 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-12-150.html 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 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-12-149.html for the full text of the announcement.

Last Reviewed: 
October 2014