Description of the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts

The NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts is the official publication for NIH medical and behavioral research grant policies, guidelines and funding opportunities.

NIH Guide announcements (PAs, RFAs and Notices) are published daily. See below for a description of each announcement type. At the end of each work week (usually on Friday afternoon), NIH transmits an e-mail to the NIH Guide LISTSERV (see Subscribe/Unsubscribe instructions) with a Current Weekly Table of Contents (TOC), including links to announcements published during the week. See the January 13, 2005 NIH Guide Notice for information on searching the NIH Guide and on Expiration Dates. The NIH Guide is also used by NIH Contracting offices and other HHS agencies, to announce their funding opportunities. The NIH Guide serves in lieu of the Federal Register, in compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act. Occasionally, unofficial notices of interest to the scientific research community are published. The NIH considers applications for the support of basic or clinical biomedical, behavioral, and bioengineering research. New extramural grant programs and priorities are implemented by publication of one of the following:

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)

A publicly available document by which a Federal agency makes known its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually as a result of competition for funds. Funding opportunity announcements may be known as program announcements, requests for applications, notices of funding availability, solicitations, or other names depending on the agency and type of program. Funding opportunity announcements can be found at and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. In addition, NIH and other HHS Agencies have developed omnibus Parent Announcements for common grant mechanisms that have transitioned to electronic submission, for use by applicants who wish to submit what were formerly termed “unsolicited” or "investigator-initiated" applications.

Program Announcement (PA)

  • Identifies areas of increased priority and/or emphasis on particular funding mechanisms for a specific area of science
  • Usually accepted on standard receipt (postmarked) dates on an on-going basis
  • Remains active for three years from date of release unless the announcement indicates a specific expiration date or the NIH Institute/Center (I/C) inactivates sooner (see January 13, 2005 NIH Guide Notice for more information on Expiration Dates)
  • Special Types
    • PAR: A PA with special receipt, referral and/or review considerations, as described in the PAR announcement
    • PAS: A PA that includes specific set-aside funds as described in the PAS announcement

Request for Application (RFA)

  • Identifies a more narrowly defined area for which one or more NIH institutes have set aside funds for awarding grants
  • Usually has a single receipt (received on or before) date specified in the RFA announcement
  • Usually reviewed by a Scientific Review Group convened by the issuing awarding component
Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Solicits contract proposals. An RFP usually has one receipt date, as specified in RFP solicitation
Notice (NOT)
  • Announces policy and procedures, changes to RFA or PA announcements, RFPs and other general information items

Inquiries about specific Notices, PAs, and RFAs published in the NIH Guide, should be directed to the NIH staff member(s) identified in each announcement.

Numbering System
  • PA Numbering (e.g. PA-06-008): Indicates a PA issued in 2006 or for funding in 2006 (06) with an associated serial number (008).

  • RFA Numbering (e.g. RFA-HL-06-004): Indicates an RFA issued by NHLBI (HL) in 2006 or for funding in 2006 (06) with an associated serial number (004).

  • Notice Numbering (e.g. NOT-OD-06-025): Indicates a Notice issued by the Office of the Director (OD) in Fiscal Year 2006 (06) with an associated serial number (025).

This page last updated on June 26, 2009 
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