NIH Extramural Grant Systems Upgrade for Unicode Compatibility Means Memorial Day Weekend Downtime

Notice Number: NOT-OD-14-071

Key Dates
Release Date: March 14, 2014

Related Announcements
January 27, 2015 - Expanding Support of Unicode Character Set in Grant Applications Submitted after February 17, 2015. See Notice NOT-OD-15-058.

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Electronic Research Administrations (eRA) has scheduled extended downtime for the Memorial Day weekend, May 2014, while our systems are upgraded and the information in the databases is converted to support Unicode compatible data.  The NIH eRA systems will be brought down on Friday, May 23 at 9:00 PM ET and full service is anticipated to be restored by Tuesday, May 27 at 7:00 AM ET.

During this downtime, all production eRA systems (including eRA Commons, ASSIST, Internet Assisted Review and others) will be unavailable for this major effort to improve the quality of the data in uploaded summary statements, progress reports and reporting systems.

Unicode is a computing standard that allows systems to handle virtually any type of text expressed in the world’s writing systems.  As a result of this upgrade, eRA systems will be able to accept Greek characters as they appear in the original scientific text submitted by grantees. For instance, Greek characters will appear in progress reports without resulting in garbled text.

NOTE: Since limits the characters allowed in grant application form fields, applicants should only use the newly supported characters in the PDF attachments of their applications. For example, Greek characters in the Project Summary/Abstract attachment are fine, but Greek characters in the Project Title field are still problematic until is able to accept and process them.

While there is never a good time to bring systems offline, the holiday weekend was selected because it would be the least disruptive given the number of submission deadlines and review meetings held throughout the year.

Recognizing the impact this event will have on Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) with due dates in late May, Guide Notice NOT-OD-14-070 has been issued to detail the adjustments that have been made to specific FOAs affected by the downtime.


Please direct all inquiries to:

NIH Grants Information
Telephone: 301-945-7573