OEP/EOIRO: August 1996
First Independent Research Support
& Transition (FIRST) Awards (R29)
Federal Demonstration Project, NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts,
Volume 23, No. 42, December 2, 1994
Just-in-Time Procedures, NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts,
Volume 25, No. 10, March 29, 1996 and
Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process (SNAP), NIH Guide for
Grants and Contracts,
Volume 24, No. 38, October 27, 1995
NIH has announced a new policy on new investigators, and will no longer be accepting FIRST (R29) award applications under this announcement, effective June 1998. For details, see the transition policy announced in the NIH Guide
This is an updated announcement for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) Award (R29). A
description of the "just-in-time" (JIT) application procedures was
announced in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 25, No. 10, on
March 29,1996. The JIT procedures were required for the June 1, 1996 receipt
date and will continue to be required henceforth. Those NIH Institutes and
Centers that support FIRST Awards and the person in the Institute/Center who
should be contacted for further information are listed under Inquiries at the
end of this announcement.
The purpose of the FIRST award is to provide a sufficient period of research
support for newly independent, biomedical and behavioral science investigators
to initiate their own research and demonstrate the merit of their own research
ideas. These grants underwrite the first independent investigative efforts,
provide a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate creativity, productivity, and
promise for an independent research career and for the principle investigator
(PI) help in the transition to traditional types of NIH research project grants.
The award is not intended for mid-career individuals who may be in transition
to another area of research. FIRST awards provide support for five years to
permit the newly independent investigator to establish his or her own research
program and make significant and innovative contributions to laboratory or
clinical biomedical or behavioral research.
Applicant Principal Investigator
To be eligible for a FIRST award, the proposed PI must be genuinely
independent of a mentor, yet be at the beginning stages of his or her research
career, i.e., have no more than five years of research experience since
completing postdoctoral research training or its equivalent. It is permissible
for PIs in the final stages of training to apply, but FIRST awards will not be
made to persons who are in training status. In addition, the proposed PI must
otherwise be eligible to serve at the applicant institution as a PI on a
traditional research project grant (R01) (that is, he or she meets the
institution's criteria for serving as a PI), but must not have served as the PI
on any Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research project other than a small
grant (R03), an Academic Research Enhancement Award (R15), an exploratory/
developmental grant (R21), or certain research career awards directed
principally to physicians, dentists, or veterinarians with little research
experience (K01, K08, and K12 ). Current or past recipients of Independent
Scientist and other nonmentored career awards (K02, K04) are not eligible.
Leaders of subprojects on multicomponent awards such as program project grants
(P01), center grants (P50), or Minority Biomedical Research Support grants (S06)
may be eligible, but are encouraged to contact the appropriate person from the
Institute/Center likely to be designated to consider funding the award (see
An important principle to remember with regard to eligibility for FIRST
awards is that the more extensive the candidate's independent research
experiences (regardless of funding source), the less enthusiasm reviewers may
have for the application.
Only domestic organizations and institutions are eligible to receive FIRST
awards. However, U.S. citizenship is not required of the proposed PI.
General Features of the FIRST Award
- A FIRST award is for a distinct research endeavor and may not be used
merely to supplement or broaden an ongoing project.
- An individual may submit only one FIRST award application to the NIH for
any one receipt date and may not submit any other type of research grant
application, including research career applications, amended applications, and
responses to a Request For Applications (RFA), during that same review cycle.
However, applications for an R03, R15, and R21 may be submitted for the same
review cycle as a FIRST application, provided the applications are on different
topics. Persons holding FIRST awards may submit applications for other projects
during the FIRST award project period, if they have committed less than 100
percent time and effort on the FIRST award. They may also submit an R01
application to continue the project begun under the FIRST award and, if
successful, terminate the FIRST award early in order to accept the R01.
- FIRST award applications must propose a five-year project plan and
request five years of research support. An application that requests less than
five years of support will be designated an R01 and will be reviewed as such, if
the applicant does not withdraw the application. In very unusual circumstances,
FIRST awards for periods of less than five years may be recommended by the
initial review group or the awarding Institute/Center, but applications must be
submitted for a five-year project period.
- The PI must commit at least 50 percent of his/her effort to the proposed
project and may request up to 100 percent effort, if that level of effort is
required to do the research. The percent of effort requested will be examined by
an initial review group, and reductions may be recommended.
- Total direct costs for the five-year period may not exceed $350,000.
The direct cost award in any budget year should not exceed $100,000. Indirect
costs will be paid to the grantee institution in accord with applicable policy
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
- Because FIRST awards have Expanded Authorities for post-award grant
management, carryover of unobligated funds from one budget period to the
subsequent one is a feature of this award, and may be accomplished at the
discretion of the PI and the grantee institution. However, if funds have been
restricted by a specific term or condition on the Notice of Grant Award, they
may not be carried over without the prior approval of the awarding unit. Annual
Financial Status Reports (FSRs) are no longer required, because FIRST awards are
subject to the Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process (SNAP), NIH Guide for
Grant and Contracts, Volume 24, No. 38, October 27, 1995.
- FIRST awards are not renewable; however, a PI may submit a traditional
research project grant (R01) application to continue and extend the research
supported by a FIRST award. In this case, the application will be considered a
competing continuation (renewal), rather than a new application.
- Grantee institutions may extend the final budget period of the project
one time for up to one year beyond the original termination date shown on the
Notice of Grant Award. The process for extending the final budget period is
consistent with other grants that operate under expanded authorities or the
Federal Demonstration Partnership (NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume
23, Number 42, December 2, 1994).
- Replacement of the PI on a FIRST Award is not allowed. Transfer of the
FIRST Award with the PI to another institution for the remaining performance
period may be requested.
- All relevant portions of the PHS Grant Policy Statement are applicable
to these awards.
Applications must be submitted to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) (formerly known as the Division of Research Grants - DRG) in
accordance with regular receipt dates (see below). Assignment to the most
appropriate Institute/Center and initial review group will be made by the CSR
according to established guidelines.
The following table indicates the receipt, review, and award cycles
| June 1
|| Sept. 1
|| Jan. 2
Application Form Instructions
Beginning June 1, 1996, all unsolicited FIRST award applications must follow
the Just-In-Time (JIT) application instructions. JIT is an initiative of the
NIH Extramural Reinvention Laboratory under the auspices of the National
Performance Review and government-wide efforts to create a government that works
better and costs less. The principle of JIT is to avoid asking for information
until it is actually needed in the process. JIT, applied to the handling of
FIRST award applications, will postpone until after an application has been
reviewed for scientific merit the collection of certain information that
previously was required in all competing applications at the time of submission.
Collection of the information "just-in-time" for an award to be
issued means that the information will be current (rather than several months
old, as is currently the case, which has therefore usually necessitated a
request for a second submission of updated information). Moreover, the
information is collected only for those applications with a likelihood of
funding, which significantly relieves the administrative burden for the
approximately 70 percent of FIRST applicants who will not receive an award.
Applicants must use the PHS 398 application form (revised 5/95), which may
be obtained from institutional offices of sponsored programs, the NIH website
(http://www.nih.gov) or, if not available any other way, by contacting the GRANTSINFO, Office of Extramural Outreach
and Information Resources, Office of Extramural Research, 6701 Rockledge Drive,
MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD, 20892-7910; Telephone: (301) 710-0267; FAX: (301)
480-0525; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications must conform to the format of the Research Plan and other
sections of form PHS 398, unless otherwise noted in these instructions. The PHS
398 instructions on page limitations, type-size requirements, and appendix
restrictions must also be followed.
FORM PAGE 1/FACE PAGE (Grant Application) -- Complete this page with special
reference to the following items:
FORM PAGE 4 (Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period) -- Do not submit
this page. It is not required, nor will it be accepted at the time of
application. NIH may request this information from the applicant just prior to
- The acronym"FIRST" (R29) must be entered on line 2;
- Amended applications must indicate the previous grant number in the block
in the upper right corner;
- Leave items 7b. and 8b. blank, because indirect costs will be calculated
at the time of award using the institution's actual indirect cost rate.
Applicants will be asked to identify indirect cost exclusions at that time.
FORM PAGE 5 (Budget for Entire Proposed Period of Support) -- Complete this
FORM PAGE 6 (Biographical Sketch) -- A biographical sketch is required for
all key personnel, and should be completed as follows. Do not exceed the 2-page
limit for each person.
- Provide only the requested total direct costs for each year and total
direct costs for the entire proposed period of support. Do not complete the
categorical budget table.
- Budget Justification -- Begin the budget justification in the space
provided, using continuation pages as needed
- List the name, role on project, and percent effort for all project
personnel (salaried or unsalaried) and provide a narrative justification for
each person based on his/her role on the project and proposed level of effort.
- Identify all consultants by name and organizational affiliation and
describe the services to be performed.
- Provide a narrative justification for any major budget items, other than
personnel, that are requested for the conduct of the project that would be
considered unusual for the scope of research. No specific costs for items or
categories should be shown.
- If consortium/contractual costs are requested, provide the percentage of
the subcontract total costs (direct and indirect) relative to the total direct
costs of the overall project. The subcontract budget justification should be
prepared following the instructions provided above.
FORM PAGE 7 (Other Support) -- Do not submit this page. Information on
active support for key personnel may be requested by the NIH just prior to
- Complete the education block at the top of the form page;
- List current position(s) and those previous positions directly relevant
to the application;
- List peer-reviewed publications directly relevant to the proposed
project, with full citation; and
- Provide information about research projects completed and/or participated
in during the last 5 years that are relevant to the proposed project. Title,
principal investigator, funding source, and role on project must be provided.
FORM PAGE (Checklist) -- Do not submit this page. A completed checklist
will be required just prior to award.
In addition to the application form itself, the following items must be
included with every application:
- A letter or memorandum from a department head or dean that addresses the
- Eligibility of the proposed principal investigator to lead a research
project independently at the applicant institution (i.e., is this person
qualified to be the PI on a traditional R01 research project grant?). If the
applicant institution is the same institution where the proposed PI received his
or her postdoctoral research training, it must be shown that the FIRST award
would support a research endeavor independent of any conducted in the former
- Details of the institution's intended commitment to the project for the
- Letters of reference that address the proposed PI's scientific originality
and potential for independent research are a critically important part of FIRST
award applications. At least three letters of reference must be submitted with
the application. Applications received without the three reference letters
will be returned to the applicant. A list of the individuals who are
providing letters of reference (with their names, titles, and institutional
affiliations) must be included as Section 10 of the Research Plan. It is
permissible for a department head or dean to provide both a letter/memorandum of
applicant eligibility and institutional commitment (see above) and a letter of
reference but the letters must be prepared as separate documents.
- The letters of reference should be requested well in advance of the
application receipt date, and the referees should be advised to provide them to
the applicant in sealed envelopes as soon as possible. To protect the utility
and confidentiality of reference letters, applicants are asked not to open the
envelopes. The sealed envelopes must be attached to the front of the original
application. An applicant submitting a REVISED APPLICATION MUST AGAIN
SUBMIT REFERENCE LETTERS.
Applications will be reviewed according to the established procedures of the
NIH peer review system. A scientific review group will evaluate the scientific
and technical merit of the proposed research in light of the PI's level of
research development. The review criteria are:
- applicant's demonstrated ability to develop a sound research plan;
- applicant's potential to carry out independent research;
- quality of applicant's education, scientific training, and research
- applicant's commitment to a research career;
- institutional commitment to the applicant and project; and
- where applicable, the adequacy of plans to include (a) both genders and
(b) minorities and their subgroups, as appropriate for the scientific goals of
the research. Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will also be
All awarding units of the NIH are authorized to use this mechanism. FIRST
Awards are included in the research project grant funding pool.
Beginning June 1, 1996, all unsolicited FIRST (R29) Award applications MUST
follow the application procedures described above. Failure to provide the
requested information in the format required could result in an application
being returned, without review, to the applicant. For those applications where
there is a likelihood of funding, NIH grants management staff will contact the
institutional business official prior to award to request information about
active other support, the checklist page, and in some cases, a detailed budget
for the project.
Additional information about the FIRST award and JIT procedures may be
obtained from any of the NIH awarding Institutes/Centers listed below.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Miriam Kelty, Ph.D.
Gateway Bldg., Room 2C218
7201 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 496-9322
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
James Vaughn, Ph.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Chief, Biomedical Research Branch
Division of Basic Research
Willco Bldg., Suite 402
600 Executive Blvd., MSC 7003
Bethesda, MD 20892-7003
Telephone: (301) 443-4223
Allan Czarra, Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Division of Extramural Activities
Solar Bldg., Room 3C28
6003 Executive Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 496-7291
Steven Hausman, Ph.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Bldg 45, Room 5AS13F
45 Center Dr., MSC 6500
Bethesda, MD 20892-6500
Telephone: (301) 594-2463
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
EPN, Room 636
6130 Executive Blvd., MSC 7405
Bethesda, MD 20892-7405
Telephone: (301) 496-3428
National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Special Assistant to the Deputy Director
Bldg. 31, Room 2A04
31 Center Drive, MSC 2425
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
Telephone: (301) 496-0104
Craig Jordan, Ph.D.
National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR)
Acting Director, Division of Extramural Activities
EPS Bldg., Room 400C
6120 Executive Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 496-8693
Norman Braveman, Ph.D.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Assistant Director, Program Development
Bldg. 45, Room 4AN.24B
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-6142
Telephone: (301) 594-2089
Walter Stolz, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Division of Extramural Activities
Bldg. 45, Room 6AS.25C
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 594-8834
Eleanor Friedenberg, Ph.D.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Office of Extramural Program Review
Parklawn Bldg., Room 10-42
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20708
Telephone: (301) 443-2755
Jose Velazquez, Ph.D.
National Eye Institute (NEI)
111 Alexander Drive
Bldg. 3, Room 308
P.O. Box 12233 (MD 3-04)
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Telephone: (919) 541-4998
Maria Giovanni, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Training Director
EPS Bldg., Suite 350
6120 Executive Blvd., MSC 7164
Bethesda, MD 20892-7164
Telephone: (301) 496-0484
Michael Martin, Ph.D.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Deputy Associate Director
Bldg. 45, Room 2AN.32K
45 Center Drive, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Telephone: (301) 594-3910
Ronald Geller, Ph.D.
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Division of Extramural Affairs
6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7922
Bethesda, MD 20892-7922
Telephone: (301) 435-0260
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Division of Extramural Programs
Bldg. 38A, Room 55518
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Telephone: (301) 496-4221
Hugh Stamper, Ph.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Division of Extramural Activities
Parklawn Bldg., Room 9-105
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Telephone: (301) 443-3367
Constance Atwell, Ph.D.
National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR)
Federal Bldg, Room 1016
7550 Wisconsin Ave.
Rockville, MD 20852
Telephone: (301) 496-9248
Lynn Amende, Ph.D.
National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR)
Division of Extramural Programs
Bldg. 45, Room 3AN12
45 Center Dr., MSC 6300
Bethesda, MD 20892-6300
Telephone: (301) 594-5968
Bettie Graham, Ph.D.
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Mapping Technology Branch
Bldg. 38A, Room 614
9000 Rockville Pike, MSC 6050
Bethesda, MD 20892-6050
Telephone: (301) 496-7531
Louise Ramm, Ph.D.
Bldg. 12A, Room. 4011
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 496-6023