Reminder: Program Announcement Needed to Identify R03 and R21 Applications

Notice Number: NOT-OD-05-010

Key Dates
Release Date: November 24, 2004

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (


In 2003, NIH standardized many features of the small grant (R03) and exploratory/developmental research grant (R21) to accommodate investigator-initiated applications (websites listed below under Inquiries). However, many Institutes and Centers (ICs) do not accept R03 applications, and many accept R21 applications only in response to specific funding opportunities. Applicants have been advised that R03 or R21 applications assigned to an IC that does not participate may be withdrawn from the review process.

Currently, there are approximately 250 active Program Announcements that utilize the R03 or R21 mechanism. Some are issued by a single IC and many are cosponsored by multiple ICs. These vary in the budget allowed, duration, eligibility requirements, page limits for the Research Plan, appendix materials allowed, number of revisions allowed, and other features. In some cases the location of the review (the Center for Scientific Review or an Institute/Center group) may vary according to the mechanism.

Appropriate assignment of R03 and R21 applications is critical to ensure that the IC designated and the review location are consistent with guidelines. Furthermore, review groups may be reviewing a variety of grant mechanisms (often R01, R03, and R21) in a single meeting. It is important for the reviewers to be correctly informed about the type of grant mechanism and any special features for the applications.

The NIH uses the information provided on line 2 of PHS 398 to correctly identify R03 and R21 applications. The cooperation of applicants is needed in providing this important information. The inclusion of this information will also ensure that the text of the appropriate Program Announcement is provided to the review group.


Investigators submitting R03 or R21 applications must include an appropriate Program Announcement number and title on line 2 of PHS 398. If there is an indication that the application is intended to be a R03 or R21 but no Program Announcement number is listed, the Principal Investigator may be contacted and given a few days to identify an appropriate Program Announcement before the assignment of the application is completed. The application must conform to the specific features (budget limit, length of Research Plan, eligibility requirements, etc.) of the Program Announcement identified. The scientific topic must fit the research interest of at least one of the sponsoring ICs. If no appropriate Program Announcement is identified, the application may be delayed in the review process or have to be returned without review.


Investigators will find information about the R03 and R21 programs at the following sites:



All of the Program Announcements are published in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts:

Each of the Institutes and Centers also list their current Program Announcements:

Investigators who wish to submit a R03 or R21 application and are having difficulty identifying an appropriate Program Announcement may also contact Institute/Center staff or:

Division of Receipt and Referral
Center for Scientific Review
Room 2030 MSC 7720
6701 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-7720 (20817 for non United States Postal Service deliveries)
301-480-1987 (fax)

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices

Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) - Government Made Easy

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