Modifications to the NICHD Special Council Review Procedures
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

December 28, 2023

Related Announcements

  • February 17, 2022 - Notice of Change to NIH’s Policy on Special Council Review of Research Applications.  See Notice NOT-OD-22-049.
  • August 20, 2012 - Notice of NIH Special Council Review of Research Applications from PDs/PIs with More than $1.0 Million Direct Costs in Annual NIH Support.  See Notice NOT-OD-12-140.

Issued by

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)


This Notice announces guidance from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) on procedures for conducting Special Council Review (SCR). NICHD is changing the threshold for SCR to $1M in total costs (NIH support only) and Multi-Program Director/Principal Investigator [PD/PI] projects will now be subject to the policy if one or more of the PDs/PIs meets or exceeds the funding threshold described above.

Special Council Review (SCR) pertains to well-funded PD(s)/PI(s) submitting applications to NICHD. The new procedure requires that additional consideration be applied to applications requiring special review by the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development (NACHHD) Council.


In September 2012, NIH implemented the SCR policy (NOT-OD-12-140) to help manage resources, and required Advisory Councils to provide additional review of new and renewal applications from investigators already receiving $1 million or more in direct costs for NIH Research Project Grant (RPG) funding. The 2012 NIH policy allows for the development of institute-specific variation of the SCR policy in consultation with individual Councils. In February 2022, NIH updated the SCR policy ( NOT-OD-22-049 ) to align with updated Other Support disclosure requirements and to increase the threshold from $1 million in direct costs per year to $2 million in total costs (inclusive of direct and indirect) per year.

In consultation with the NACHHD, NICHD is modifying its SCR procedure with the goal of managing resources more effectively, allowing the Institute to fund a larger, more diverse group of investigators by reducing the concentration of funding, while simultaneously continuing to support unique opportunities for highly promising work.

NICHD Procedure

For applications under review at the September 2024 meeting of the NACHHD and beyond, NICHD will implement additional considerations when reviewing applications from very well-funded investigators. NICHD will define very well-funded investigators as investigators already receiving $1 million or more in total costs as of 30 days after the NACHHD Council meeting, exclusive of the pending application. Multi-PD/PI projects will now be subject to the policy if one or more of the PDs/PIs meets or exceeds the funding threshold described above.  Awarded supplements to promote diversity will not contribute to the threshold.  There are no other modifications to the types of support that contribute to the threshold.

Applications with primary assignment to NICHD from very well-funded PD(s)/PI(s) (as defined above) must have an exceptional score in order to be considered for SCR and funding.  An exceptional score is defined as an application scoring below the 7th percentile OR equivalent score for an application that does not receive a percentile. Applications flagged for SCR will be reviewed on an individual basis, and the exceptional score requirement may be waived if the application represents a rare or unprecedented effort to address one or more NICHD priorities.

All competing NICHD primary research applications are potentially subject to this policy.  Exemptions to this policy are limited and fall into a small number of general categories.  Note that the descriptions of these exemptions are intended to serve as examples and are not exhaustive.

  • Training – Applications soliciting support for Institutional Training programs, Research Education (R25) programs and individual Fellowship (F) and Career Development (K) awards
  • Conferences – Applications soliciting support for scientific conferences (i.e. R13 or U13)
  • Research Resources – Applications soliciting support for research resources (e.g. R24, P30, S10)
  • Network Clinical Research – applications proposing protocols for a multisite clinical trial or observational study for an NICHD clinical research network
  • Pending applications submitted in response to Requests for Applications (RFA), which use a single round of competition to address a targeted research objective and are separately considered for funding
  • Administrative supplements

In addition, applications submitted in response to a Notice of Funding Opportunity supported by Congressionally directed funds will generally be exempt from SCR. At present, the programs that have been designated as exempt in this category include:

  • HIV/AIDS research
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
  • IMPROVE: Implementing a Maternal health and PRegnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone
  • INCLUDE: Investigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE


Please direct all inquiries to:

Rebekah S. Rasooly, PhD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Telephone: 301-827-2599