Two Critical Issues for Recent Submissions of Applications for Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) Individual Fellowships – References and Designation of Sponsor

Notice Number: NOT-OD-09-144

Key Dates
Release Date: August 27, 2009

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (
Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ),


To inform applicants who submitted applications for NIH/AHRQ Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for Individual Fellows and their referees for August 2009 due dates that two major issues require their immediate attention. This alert applies to all reference forms for individual Fellowship applications (F30, F31, F32, and F33), not to reference letters for Career Development Award applications (the K mechanisms.)

1.  Reference Forms:

A number of references for NIH/AHRQ Fellowship applications that were submitted by referees during the recent August submission deadlines were not submitted using the required form listed in the Fellowship Application Guide (see below).  This form includes three parts: 1) a Fellowship applicant ranking section, 2) space for narrative evaluation, and 3) a referee information section, all of which are required for the review of Fellowship applications. 

Given this situation, Fellowship applicants are urged to contact their referees immediately and have them submit again using the reference form found at References for Fellowship Awards format page, if it was not included in their original submission.  Referees should read the specific instructions in the Fellowship Application Guide (Part 1, Section 5.4, Pages I-94 and I-95).  Referees must complete the form page using word processing software and convert it to PDF format using PDF-generating software.  Use of this form, rather than a scanned text attachment that has been converted to PDF format, is necessary to ensure transmission of the requisite information. 

To correct a reference (i.e., replace the original letter submitted), the referee needs to know the Reference Letter Confirmation Number.  On the Reference Letter screen in the eRA Commons, the referee enters all the required fields and the confirmation number, and clicks on ‘Continue.’ The referee is taken to a second screen where he/she can upload the complete, corrected fellowship reference form.  Once the corrected reference is uploaded, it overrides the first submitted reference.  Referees should contact the eRA Service Desk (see below) if they do not have their confirmation number.
Corrected references must be submitted by Tuesday, September 15, 2009.  Applications that are missing the three required letters of reference may be delayed in the review process. 

2.  Designation of Sponsor:

Some fellowship applicants failed to indicate the Sponsor correctly in the Profile - Senior/Key Personnel.  The instructions in the SF424 application state “Person 1 is the (primary) Sponsor. Click on Other Project Role and choose “Other” in the drop down menu, then indicate in the blank “Sponsor” or “Co-Sponsor” as applicable to define the role the person will have in the project.”

If these instructions were not followed, the application number and sponsor’s name must be sent to the eRA Service Desk (see below).   If sending the information by email, please use the Subject Line “Fellowship Sponsor.”  


For additional information, please refer to the Reference Letter FAQs or contact:

Dr. Sally Amero, NIH Review Policy Officer, Office of Extramural Research, NIH (  
Dr. Rodney Ulane, NIH Research Training Officer, Office of Extramural Research, NIH (

For technical assistance, please contact:

eRA Service Desk
Web: (Preferred method of contact)
Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552
Phone: 301-402-7469
TTY: 301-451-5939
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time

Related Guide Notice

  • NOT-OD-09-106 Announcing New Business Processes and Confirming the Transition of Individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship (“F”) Applications to Electronic Submission (June 12, 2009)