Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information


Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

Fogarty International Center (FIC)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Funding Opportunity Title

Mobile Health: Technology and Outcomes in Low and Middle Income Countries (R21)

Activity Code

R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-14-028

Related Notices
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number


Companion Funding Opportunity


Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.242;93.393;93.395;93.399;93.173;93.989; 93.286;93.865

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to encourage exploratory/developmental research applications that propose to conduct research to develop or adapt innovative mobile health (mHealth) technology specifically suited for low and middle income countries (LMICs) and determine the health-related outcomes associated with implementation of the technology. Of highest interest are innovative, well-designed multidisciplinary projects that aim to generate generalizable knowledge for the field.

The overall goal of the FOA is to contribute to the evidence base for the use of mobile technology to improve clinical outcomes and public health while building research capacity in LMICs and establishing research networks in this area. Applicants are required to propose partnerships between at least one U.S. institution and one LMIC institution and the proposed research plan should strengthen the mHealth research capabilities at the LMIC institution.  

Key Dates


Posted Date

May 26, 2016

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

July 31, 2016

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days prior to the application due date

Application Due Date(s)

Any due dates on or after Jan 25, 2018 must use reissued FOA.

August 31, 2016; August 31, 2017; August 31, 2018, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Scientific Merit Review

February/March 2017; February/March 2018, February/March 2019

Advisory Council Review

May 2017; May 2018; May 2019

Earliest Start Date

July 2017

Expiration Date
New Date January 24, 2018 per reissuance of FOA (Original Expiration Date: September 1, 2018)
Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Definition of mHealth

In the context of this FOA, mHealth is defined as the use of mobile and wireless devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.) to improve health outcomes, health care services, and health research. The mHealth technology that is developed or adapted in proposed projects may include external hardware and/or software components for mobile or wireless devices.   


The enormous potential for mobile technology to transform health care, personal health management, and basic health research has led to the rapid development of new health-related phone applications and device attachments. The potential of mHealth is especially relevant to LMICs, where cell phone ownership is rising rapidly, but access to health care and providers is often limited. While this promise of mHealth is leading to a large increase in interventions that use mobile phones, research on these interventions is often lacking.

FIC created the first iteration of this program in 2013 (funded grants can be found on the FIC mHealth program website), based on the need for a larger mHealth evidence-base in LMICs, which was presented in a 2011 report by the World Health Organization (mHealth: New Horizons for Health through Mobile Technologies, Global Observatory for eHealth Series – Volume 3).  The report shows that over 50% of low income and low-middle income countries surveyed identify a lack of knowledge of possible mHealth applications and their public health outcomes as a major barrier to mHealth implementation - demonstrating the need for research studies and dissemination of research results. Other main barriers identified include health policies, competing priorities, high operating costs or a lack of data regarding cost effectiveness, and a lack of telecommunications infrastructure (specific to low income countries). While an mHealth research program will not be able to overcome all of the barriers to the implementation of mHealth, it could help create the knowledge base and network of leading mHealth researchers that will be critical if mHealth research and programs are going to be scaled up in the future.

Research Capacity Strengthening and Collaboration

All applications submitted to this FOA are required to involve partnerships between U.S. and LMIC researchers and should develop mHealth research capacity at LMIC institutions. The individual and institutional research capabilities and international research networks that are developed should enable future mHealth research, beyond the time period of the grant.

Since the mHealth field is multidisciplinary and cross-sector in nature, applicants should consider appropriate collaborations with researchers from diverse disciplines such as behavioral science, engineering, computer science, business, medicine, public health, and/or other relevant fields. In addition, applicants should consider partnering with individuals in public or private organizations, including health system entities, which could enable future research or implementation efforts within the relevant LMIC. 

Research Objectives

This FOA encourages research projects that study the development/adaptation and effectiveness of mHealth tools and/or interventions for the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of specific health conditions or for disease agnostic/cross-cutting applications. Applicants are encouraged to propose research projects that have the potential to provide an understanding of principles underlying effective mHealth interventions or tools that are generalizable to the field.

Applications should have a strong emphasis on health-related outcomes upon application of the tool or intervention and should include rigorous study designs. Pilot studies that are necessary for more comprehensive future research projects may be proposed. Formative research that is necessary for technology development or project implementation (e.g. research on cultural acceptability) may be one aspect of the proposed research.

This initiative aims to support projects that adapt or develop technologies that are appropriate for LMIC settings. A plethora of mHealth applications and devices have been developed in high-income countries, however, these technologies are not necessarily suitable for the needs of individuals in LMICs. Research that focuses on the problems and constraints in LMIC environments should produce more effective interventions and tools and may result in more sustainable mHealth use, especially if there is involvement from LMIC stakeholders, such as businesses, hospitals, or governments.

Important Points for Consideration:

  • If the mHealth intervention or tool aims to produce a specific clinical outcome, applicants should incorporate appropriate biological endpoints and/or observational behavioral data to measure this outcome.
  • Interventions that aim to produce behavior change should be based on existing social and behavioral science theories.
  • The interventions or tools studied should take advantage of the unique functionality of mobile and wireless devices. Utilization of real-time data collection and feedback is encouraged where appropriate.
  • New software, devices, and systems should be interoperable with existing infrastructure and resulting data should integrate with relevant health information systems where applicable.
  • The reliability, safety, simplicity, affordability and power requirements of new technology being studied should be considered in the LMIC context where it will be used.
Specific Research Interests of the Participating Institutes and Centers

The Fogarty International Center (FIC) is dedicated to advancing the mission of the NIH by supporting and facilitating global health research conducted by U.S. and international investigators, building partnerships between health research institutions in the U.S. and abroad, and training the next generation of scientists to address global health needs. Therefore, FIC is interested in a diversity of global health research topics that address the priority health needs of LMICs and fit the above research objectives. This initiative supports FIC's strategic plan by stimulating innovation in the development and implementation of technologies to address global health problems and by building capacity through individuals, institutions and networks to meet future and evolving global health challenges.

Applicants proposing projects related to HIV/AIDS should ensure that the research aligns with NIH HIV/AIDS high priority research topics by reviewing the NIH HIV/AIDS Research Priorities and Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research before submitting an application.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recognizes the utility of mobile communication technologies: (a) to prevent avoidable cancers by reducing exposure to carcinogenic agents and by promoting healthy life styles; (b) to support early detection, when the opportunities for curing or controlling the cancer are optimal; (c) to facilitate accurate diagnosis and effective treatment planning; (d) to support reliable communications between all members of the care team, including the patient, during treatment; and (e) to offer an unbroken system of support during survivorship and at end-of-life. Specific examples of relevant research objectives include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Extending mHealth platforms to include point of care technologies
  • Using mHealth approaches to address issues related to patient abandonment
  • Integrating personal surveillance data from mobile and wireless devices into e-Health records
  • Improving patient education and clinical trial recruitment through mobile communication strategies
  • Bolstering cancer control efforts through mobile applications that prevent smoking, encourage exercise, and promote healthy diets
  • Utilizing the digital photography and geopositioning capabilities of mobile technologies to aid in the early detection of cancers especially in underserved or remote areas
  • Developing capacity-building projects internationally that will offer synchronous and asynchronous management, and monitoring, of treatment plans
  • Creating a communication safety net for cancer survivors that will allow them to thrive after treatment, while adhering to the evolving guidance of a proactive survivorship care plan
  • Developing support tools for hospice workers, home care specialists, caregivers, and patients to improve palliation and end-of-life decision making

The mission of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies.  NIBIB is committed to integrating engineering with the physical and life sciences to advance basic research and medical care.  One way that this is achieved is through the support of research and development of new biomedical imaging and bioengineering tools and technologies to improve the prevention, detection, treatment, and monitoring of disease.  NIBIB scientific program areas that are appropriate for this funding opportunity can be found at  The NIBIB supports research from early stage technology development through first-in-human demonstrations and/or early feasibility clinical studies.

Topics of particular interest to NIBIB include:

  • Developing and testing integrated, portable imaging technologies for monitoring health and as part of point-of-care diagnosis and treatment
  • Developing and testing tools to enhance the visualization and psychophysical understanding of complicated health information on mobile devices with the local cultural context
  • Developing and testing decision support systems to provide guidance and a framework for shared decision-making with medical professionals based on best available evidence 
  • Developing and testing networked, citizen-driven approaches to engaging and retaining people in improving their health
  • Developing technology that incorporates telemetry and remote access in the acquisition, analysis and monitoring of biomedical data
  • Developing software and hardware tools for telehealth studies that have broad applications
  • Early stage development of telehealth technologies in specific focus areas

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) conducts and supports research in 7 scientific program areas:  hearing, balance/vestibular, voice, speech, language, taste and smell.  The mission of the NIDCD is to reduce the burden of communicative disorders and improve public health.  NIDCD is especially interested in applications focused on newborn screening of hearing ability and early identification and treatment of voice, speech, and language delay or disorders.  Mobile Health applications in augmentative and alternative communication for non-speaking individuals are also of interest to NIDCD.  Applications from institutions within a geographic region which shares the same spoken language e.g. Latin America, Middle East and North Africa could offer special opportunities for regional collaboration and better health outcomes. Prospective applicants are encouraged to review the NIDCD National Strategic Research Plan for 2012-2016.   

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is interested in the development or innovative application of cost-effective, sustainable, and scalable technologies to improve the accessibility, effectiveness, or delivery of mental health care in LMICs.  Research topics considered relevant to NIMH priorities under this FOA include, but are not limited to, use of mHealth technologies to:

  • Improve screening, assessment, treatment, or management of co-morbid mental illness and chronic disease
  • Improve adherence to treatments for comorbid chronic disease management, including management of mental illness
  • Support the implementation of task shifting and the roles of community health workers and other adjunct caregivers in the delivery of mental health care
  • Deliver mental health care to populations with low literacy and low numeracy rates
  • Increase the acceptability, accessibility, and efficiency of mental health services
  • Harness social media to facilitate and improve self-care, peer support, or follow-up care related to mental health
  • Promote and monitor skill acquisition in order to enhance or sustain therapeutic benefit
  • Improve data capture, real-time assessment, symptom monitoring, and risk prediction
  • Support providers or health care systems in monitoring and improving the quality of mental health care (e.g., clinical decision support, quality control systems) 

Priority will be given to applications that propose novel applications of technology that could potentially generalize across indications and target populations, as well as multiple operating systems.  Applications that propose the simple transfer of face-to-face interventions onto mHealth technologies or the replication of proven/existing technologies with additional mental disorders or target populations will be considered lower priority for NIMH funding..

See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.

Section II. Award Information


Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed


The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

Applicants may request up to $125,000 direct costs per year.  

Award Project Period

The total project period may not exceed 2 years.  

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

o    Hispanic-serving Institutions

o    Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

o    Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)

o    Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions

o    Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)


  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions)
Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are  eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are  eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are  allowed.

Non-domestic entities are restricted to higher education institutions and other non-profit organizations in LMICs, which are defined by The World Bank as low-, lower-middle-, or upper-middle-income economies - At least one institution in the U.S. and at least one institution in a LMIC must be involved as partners in the grant application. 

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code – Foreign organizations must obtain an NCAGE code (in lieu of a CAGE code) in order to register in SAM. 
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Individuals from U.S. and LMIC institutions are eligible PDs/PIs. The main collaborating individuals from the proposed U.S. and LMIC institutions should serve as PDs/PIs or other key personnel. Individuals from non-U.S. high income country institutions are not eligible as PDs/PIs, but may participate as partners or collaborators in proposed programs.   

Multiple PD/PI applications are encouraged when justified, especially for highly multi-disciplinary or multi-sectoral applications.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must obtain the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Laura Povlich, PhD
Telephone: 301-827-2227
Fax: 301-402-0779
Email: (preferred)

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  Applicants should include all institutions where research will occur as performance sites, including relevant U.S. and foreign institutions.

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  All applications should have at least one LMIC researcher and at least one U.S. researcher as key personnel.

R&R or Modular Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. Applicants should budget funds for travel to the annual program network meeting in the Bethesda, MD. PDs/PIs are expected to attend the network meetings and may also budget for other key personnel to attend.

Where feasible, applicants are encouraged to budget funding to their partner institution through the formation of a subaward.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions: 

Research Strategy: All applicants should:

  • Justify the relevance of the proposed research to the health of the LMIC research population(s).
  • Justify the suitability and feasibility of the proposed technology usage (or explain how feasibility will be established) in LMICs. Part of this justification should include a description of the existing mobile infrastructure at the LMIC research location(s).  
  • Integrate strategies for research capacity strengthening at the LMIC institution into the proposed research program.
  • Propose specific milestones and a timeline to meet these goals.
  • Delineate the roles of each key personnel and provide plans for the coordination of research activities.
  • Highlight factors in the investigators' background and/or institutional circumstances that will facilitate successful collaboration across partner institutions.
  • Describe strategies that will be used to ensure the sustainability of the proposed mHealth intervention or tool, if it is proven to be effective.  
  • If relevant, describe how the proposed mHealth research addresses high priority HIV research interests of NIH and is relevant to the needs of the LMIC.   

Letters of Support: All participating institutions and key personnel should provide letters of support for the proposed research program.

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Appendix:  Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Assignment Request Form

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

Foreign Institutions

Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and

4. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

Organizations must submit applications to (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to on or before the application due date and time.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

6. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

7. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow our Post Submission Application Materials policy.

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

For this particular announcement, note the following:

The R21 exploratory/developmental grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or biobehavioral research. An R21 grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required for R21 applications; however, they may be included if available.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.


Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field? Does the project address an important health problem in the LMIC(s) involved? Is the mHealth technology studied appropriate for the LMIC location(s) and population(s)?  


Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or those in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project? Do the PD(s)/PI(s) have the scientific background, expertise, and LMIC experience to provide strong leadership, direction, management, and administration of the proposed research? Based on the investigators' background and/or institutional circumstances, is there potential for successful collaboration within the research team?


Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, technology, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, technology, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, technology, or interventions proposed? Does the project incorporate innovative strategies for strengthening research capabilities at the LMIC institution?  


Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects? Does the application present appropriate strategies to strengthen mHealth research capacity in the LMIC institution(s)?

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?  


Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements? Based on the available resources and potential for research capacity building, is there a high probability that the research team will be able to continue conducting mobile health research after the grant period? Is there reasonable potential for the mHealth intervention or tool to become sustainable in the LMIC where the research is being conducted?        

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.


Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.


For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.


Not Applicable


Not Applicable

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: (1) Data Sharing Plan; (2) Sharing Model Organisms; and (3)  Genomic Data Sharing Plan (GDS).

Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources:

For projects involving key biological and/or chemical resources, reviewers will comment on the brief plans proposed for identifying and ensuring the validity of those resources.

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the Center for Scientific Review, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications . Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
  • Relevance of proposed project to priorities of co-funding components.
  • Geographic balance of programs.
  • Scientific content for program balance.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.  This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights law. This means that recipients of HHS funds must ensure equal access to their programs without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, sex and religion. This includes ensuring your programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency.  HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research.

For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see The HHS Office for Civil Rights also provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see; and Recipients of FFA also have specific legal obligations for serving qualified individuals with disabilities. Please see Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at or call 1-800-368-1019 or TDD 1-800-537-7697. Also note it is an HHS Departmental goal to ensure access to quality, culturally competent care, including long-term services and supports, for vulnerable populations. For further guidance on providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services, recipients should review the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care at

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Finding Help Online: (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free) Customer Support (Questions regarding registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Email: (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-945-7573

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Laura Povlich, Ph.D.
Fogarty International Center (FIC))
Telephone: 301-827-2227

Vidya Vedham, Ph.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone: 240-276-7272

Lana Shekim, Ph.D.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Telephone: 301-496-5061

Makeda Williams, PhD
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-435-4582

Vinay Pai Ph.D
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Telephone: 301-451-4781

Peer Review Contact(s)

Gabriel Fosu, PhD
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
Telephone: 301-435-3562

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Kasima Brown
Fogarty International Center (FIC))
Telephone: 301-496-5710

Carol Perry
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone: 240-276-6282

Chris Myers
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Telephone: 301-435-0713

Tamara Kees
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-8811

Florence  Turska
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Telephone- 301-496-9314

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Part 75.

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