Modification of the Biographical Sketch in NIH Grant Application Forms (PHS 398, PHS 2590, and the SF 424 R&R) to Permit a Description of Factors that may have Reduced Productivity

Notice Number: NOT-OD-11-045

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

  • March 14, 2011 - See Notice NOT-OD-11-050 Modification of the Fellowship Biographical Sketch in NIH Grant Application Form SF424 (R&R) to Permit a Description of Factors that may have Resulted in a Hiatus in Training or Reduced Productivity.

Key Dates
Release Date: February 16, 2011

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


The Biographical Sketch that appears in NIH research grant application forms (see is used to convey information about the qualifications, productivity, and the role of the personnel involved in the proposed project. This information is available to peer reviewers as well as NIH extramural program and grants management officials. Information in the Biosketch is factored into the overall merit and technical rating for each grant application.

The NIH is aware that personal issues can affect career advancement and productivity. Such considerations have shaped the implementation of the Early Stage Investigator Policy (see That policy permits Principal Investigators to describe personal factors that may have delayed their transition to research independence. Such factors can occur at any point in a scientist’s career and include family care responsibilities, illness, disability, military service and other personal issues.
This modification of the Biographical Sketch will permit Program Directors/Principal Investigators and other senior/key staff to describe personal circumstances that may have reduced productivity. Peer reviewers and others will then have more complete information on which to base their assessment of qualifications and productivity relevant to the proposed role on the project.

Beginning with applications submitted for the May 25, 2011 and subsequent receipt dates, the biosketch instructions will include a modification of the personal statement section to remind applicants that they can provide a description of personal issues that may have reduced productivity. The revised instructions for the personal statement are shown below and should appear in applications toward the end of March:

Personal statement: Briefly describe why your experience and qualifications make you particularly well-suited for your role (e.g., PD/PI, mentor) in the project that is the subject of the application. Within this section you may, if you choose, briefly describe factors such as family care responsibilities, illness, disability, and active duty military service that may have affected your scientific advancement or productivity.

Providing information about personal issues is optional. If applicants wish to provide such information they are encouraged to limit such descriptions to a few sentences.

Information on other NIH policies designed to accommodate illness, disability and family care responsibilities can be found on the Women in Biomedical Careers website at and on the Office of Extramural Research website at


Questions related to individual grant applications or awards may be directed to the contacts listed in each Funding Opportunity Announcement in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at