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F Award Resources

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Below is an overview of the NIH Individual Fellowship award. For information and the most recent application instructions on NIH National Research Service Awards (F series), please visit the Individual Fellowships Kiosk on the NIH Web site.

Allow yourself ample time to prepare your application and submit it. You should start the process at least 4-6 months before the application deadline. Please note that all F32 applications must be submitted internally through EGrant. EGrant is an internal server where you and the Office of Sponsored Projects can access your proposal. For more details on the application and a sample timeline, see the Sample Timeline section below.

Step 1: Develop a game plan

  • Understand grant basics from an NIH perspective (video)
    • NOTE: Always check to make sure you are using the most current version of the instructions
  • Use NIH RePORTER to identify which institute is most appropriate for your submission and to ensure that your idea is original
  • Find a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) specific to your area of interest
  • Identify the best NIH Institute and Scientific Review Group (study section) for your proposal
  • Make a plan and develop a realistic timeline
    • The deadlines for F32 applications are April 8, August 8, December 8
      • Always verify the deadline date - some programs have alternative deadlines
      • The FOA will specify if an alternate due date should be used

Step 2: Get the required account access

  • Identify your CHOP Sponsored Projects Officer (SPO) and Research Business Manager (RBM); you may also start by asking your advisor who serves in these roles for their grants
    • General Contact for CHOP Office of Sponsored Projects and Business Management: [email protected] / 267-426-0122
    • Notify your SPO through CHOP's Electronic Sponsored Projects Administration (eSPA) as soon as you decide you are going to submit a proposal (at the very least, 30 days prior to the planned submission date)
  • New to eSPA? Sign-up for a training session by contacting your SPO
  • You will need to have Principal Investigator (PI) status to apply for an F32 (Usually assigned within 2-3 business days of the request)
  • Your SPO will create your eRA Commons account (Please note this can take up to two weeks for processing through the NIH)
  • Work with your SPO to establish your file on the EGrant server and to enter information into eSPA
    • EGrant is a shared server that you and your SPO can access where all updates to your application are saved and the final application will be submitted from
    • All F32 applications are submitted through the EGrant server prior to the NIH deadline; the application will then be submitted to the NIH on your behalf

Step 3: Write your draft proposal and have it reviewed

  • Read the instructions for your specific FOA and begin to write the first draft of your research proposal
  • Read tips for developing a strong application that helps reviewers evaluate its science and merit
  • Create/update your Biosketch
  • Template language about the institution and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is available
  • Identify internal and external reviewers to review your proposal
    • Give them enough time for a thorough review and allow yourself time to incorporate the changes

Step 4: Revise and submit your proposal through EGrant

  • Be realistic about the time it can take to write and revise the application, incorporate feedback, and submit the application through EGrant
  • Format attachments and prepare for submission
    • Understand the requirements for preparing the documents you need to attach to your application, including criteria for the PDF files, fonts, margins, headers and footers, paper size, citations, format pages and more
  • Be ready to submit the final version for initial review through EGrant by the internal deadline (which is at least 5 business days before the NIH deadline)
    • All grants must be submitted through the Office of Sponsored Projects and are required to be reviewed by your SPO prior to submission. Please make sure you take this into account and get your final draft submitted internally on time.

You do not have to develop your application in the order described below. You should come up with a plan that works best for you and develop a timeline to complete all the required sections of the application. Make sure to allow time for reviews at various stages of development.

Month 1: Contact your SPO and get required access

  • Contact your SPO and let them know which F32 FOA you are interested in, they will ensure you have the most up to date information regarding your application
  • Get all required access: Temporary PI Status, EGrant, eSPA, and eRA Commons

Months 2-3: Work on your research proposal

  • Project Summary/Abstract: A succinct and accurate description of the proposed work which should be able to stand on its own (separate from the application); limited to 30 lines of text
  • Project Narrative: Description of the relevance of this research to public health in, at most, three sentences
  • Research Training Plan Section, which includes:
    • Specific Aims:
      • State concisely the goals of the proposed research and summarize the expected outcome(s), including the impact that the results of the proposed research will have on the research field(s) involved
      • Avoid having a Specific Aim that is dependent on the outcome of another Specific Aim, each should be asking an independent question related to the over-arching hypothesis (you don't want to propose a project where if Aim 1 is successful then you will do x,y,z in Aim 2)
  • Research Strategy:
    • Significance:
      • Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress that the proposed project addresses
      • Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice in one or more broad fields
      • Describe how the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field will be changed if the proposed aims are achieved
    • Approach:
      • Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project
    • Preliminary Studies:
      • Include information on preliminary studies (including data collected by others in the lab), if any
      • Discuss your preliminary studies, data, and/or experience pertinent to this application
  • Bibliography and References Cited
  • Have your research advisor, other lab members, and external people review your research proposal

Month 4: Work on the other components of the application

  • Applicant Background and Goals: Includes summary of past research experience, training goals and objectives for the duration of the fellowship, activities planned under the award
    • This information must be presented in a specific order, make sure to follow the instructions described in section F.200 (pg. 58) of the Fellowship Instructions
  • Biosketch(es): Must include an updated biosketch for yourself as well as all senior/key personnel and other significant contributors
  • Sponsor and Co-Sponsor Statements
  • Letters of Support
  • Selection of Sponsor and Institution
  • Description of Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training
  • Facilities and Other Resources: Describe how the scientific environment in which the research will be done contributes to the probability of success (e.g., institutional support, physical resources, and intellectual rapport)
  • Equipment: List major items of equipment already available for this project and, if appropriate, identify the equipment's location and pertinent capabilities
  • Training in Responsible Conduct of Research: RCR template language is available
  • Ensure your SPO and RBM are working to complete the portions of the application for the institutional information and budget respectively

Month 5: Review and Revise Application

  • Have people with "fresh eyes" read over the completed application looking for grammatical errors, ease of reading, and flow of information

Month 6: Submit through EGrant

  • Time to submit: Upload your application to the EGrant server
  • SPO will review and submit it through eRA Commons, it can take up to 2 days to be visible in the eRA Commons system
  • Review the grant in eRA Commons to make sure everything looks the way you would like it to look (this is what the reviewers will see and is your last opportunity to make any changes)

IMPORTANT: Make sure you get all revisions submitted on the EGrant server at least five business days before the NIH deadline to ensure there is enough time for review and to get the application uploaded in eRA Commons for a final review

You can track and view your application once it has been submitted. It is your responsibility to track your application and view the application image in the eRA Commons before the application deadline. This will be the view that the reviewers see so it is important to look at the application in eRA Commons. This can be done after the SPO submits it from the EGrant server (may take up to two days to be visible). If you can’t view your application in eRA Commons, they can’t review it. Learn how to track and view your application. Your application will be reviewed for completeness prior to being sent out for review. Understand how, eRA systems and federal staff check applications.

Application Review Process

  1. NIH Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) within the Center for Scientific Review (CRS) serves as the central receiving point and assigns an identification number
  2. Assigned to Scientific Review Group (Study Section), which will be shown in eRA Commons two weeks after the submission date
  3. Grant is reviewed by: Primary Reviewer, Secondary Reviewer, Reader (more details on the peer review process)
  4. After the peer review of the application is completed, you will be able to access your Summary Statement (written critique)

Once the study section gives you a score, that information (and the review) will be posted on your eRA Commons account; the proposal then goes to your NIH Institute where Council makes funding decisions.

Please see our @CHOP site to locate successful F Award Applications developed by CHOP Researchers.

Would you like to share your successful F32 Award application with other CHOP researchers? Please contact [email protected] for more information.