NIH News Release
Office of the Director

Thursday, January 21, 1999

Anne Thomas
(301) 496-4461

NIH Announces New Grant Application, Review & Award Procedures:
Dr. Varmus approves modular grants for the next millennium

Dr. Harold Varmus, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently announced new application, review, and award procedures that will apply with the June 1, 1999 grant application receipt date. The revised, streamlined format, known as the Modular Research Grant Application and Award initiative, will apply to many major research grant mechanisms, including the most popular NIH mechanism, the competing individual research project grants mechanism (R01).

"The purposes of the modular research grant initiative are multifold," said Dr. Varmus. "First, the initiative reduces the amount of budgetary information requested from applicants, allowing investigators, research institutions, peer reviewers, and NIH staff to focus most intently on the science during the peer review process. The simplified budget reporting features under the modular grant initiative will also help the NIH achieve its goal of reducing the length of time between application receipt and grant award." NIH has identified reducing the application receipt to award cycle from ten months to six months as a goal by the year 2000.

Under the modular grant application and award procedures announced by Dr. Varmus, applicants will request total direct costs in $25,000 increments up to $250,000 in any year of a project. (Applicants requesting more than $250,000 in direct costs in any year will continue to follow existing application and award procedures.) Applicants will provide limited budget information in a narrative format and will not have to submit other research support information until just prior to award. Currently, applicants must provide itemized budget detail for eight categories of spending, along with other support information, at the time of application. An update of other support information is typically requested prior to award. Although modular awards are issued without direct cost categorical breakdowns, recipients are required to allocate and account for costs related to their awards in accordance with applicable cost principles and NIH grants policy.

The modular research grant procedures will affect the NIH peer review process by enabling reviewers to evaluate proposed project budgets on the basis of a general, expert estimate of the total effort and resources required to conduct the proposed research. Reviewers will recommend changes in a proposed project's budget in $25,000 modules. NIH Institute staff will continue to make all final award decisions.

"The first year of implementation will be a period for public comment, followed by two years of extensive evaluation. Pending reaction from the public and the results of the evaluation, NIH will consider raising the modular threshold from $250,000," said Dr. Ronald Geller, Director of Extramural Affairs, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and Chairperson of the Modular Grant Steering Committee. "The $250,000 threshold was selected as a good starting point because NIH data indicated that 90 percent of competing individual research project grants (R01) applications request $250,000 or less in direct costs."

Since 1994, the modular grant application and award procedures have been extensively pilot tested in over 25 separate grant solicitations, covering a wide variety of award mechanisms. Thirteen Institutes, most notably the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), have participated in the pilot.

See for additional information. Public comments and questions may be sent to