NIH Introduces Modular Grant Applications
November 1999

In a recent interview, NIH Director Dr. Harold Varmus commented that modular grant applications are "… clearly the wave of the future." (Science 285 (5434): 1654-1656, September 10, 1999.) The wave of the future is here.

The modular grant application format is an extension of NIH's streamlining and reinvention initiatives. The modular grant initiative was designed to focus the attention of investigators, their institutions, peer re-viewers, and NIH staff on science rather than budget details. Through its simplified budget reporting features, the modular grant application also ad-dresses the broader NIH goal of reducing time between application receipt and grant award. Complete information on modular grant applications is available at:

In the December 15, 1998 edition of the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, NIH announced the plan to use the Modular Grant Application. Applications whose total direct costs did not exceed $250,000 per year were eligible to be submitted as a modular grant application. By June 1, 1999, Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15) as well as all competing individual research project grants (R01), small grants (R03), and exploratory/developmental grants (R21) could be submitted as modular applications.

Unlike traditional grant applications, the budget for modular grants is requested in $25,000 modules, eliminating the need to compile detailed and separate budget categories. Typically, a modular grant application requests the same number of modules in each year. Additional narrative budget justification is required only if there is a variation in the number of modules requested.

The modular grant application experience, to date, is extremely encouraging. Out of a total of 6,931 eligible applications, 6,403 (92.4%) modular grant applications were submitted for the first NIH-wide deadlines. The majority of R01 applications (70%, Fig. 1) requested the same number of modules each year, thus adhering to the "typical modular grant application" concept.

Figure 1

Slightly less than half of applications submitted (41%, Fig. 2) requested $175,000 or $200,000 for the first year.

Figure 2

Because modular grants constitute a new way of doing business, NIH is interested in hearing from constituents who are using it. Comments and questions on modular grant application procedures may be addressed to


This page last updated on November 9, 1999 
Content Manager: 
Technical Issues: E-mail OER Webmaster