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Understand Staff Roles

NIH staff is here to help. The best people to talk with you about the scientific or administrative information in your particular application or award are in the NIH institute or center that may fund the grant. We strongly encourage you to communicate with NIH staff throughout the grant life cycle. The information on this page can help you understand the roles of NIH staff and help you contact the right person at each phase of the application and award process.

For technical assistance using our systems please contact our eRA Service Desk Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer.

Program Officials


  • Develop research and research training initiatives
  • Write funding opportunity announcements
  • Provide scientific guidance to investigators pre- and post-award
  • Monitor the programmatic, scientific, and/or technical aspects of a grant
  • Work in partnership with grants management staff on post-award administration, including review of progress reports

When to Contact

  • To identify the right type of grant program and/or funding opportunity for you and your research​
  • To verify that your idea fits within the mission and priorities of an NIH Institute or Center
  • To discuss whether your research is considered a clinical trial
  • For approval to submit an application with budget of $500,000 or more in direct costs for any single year or an R13 conference grant
  • To discuss the summary statement and outcome of review
  • To talk about progress or scientific and administrative issues that arise with the grant after award

What POs Can't Do

  • Co-write or rewrite any portion of an application by
    • Proposing copy edits to your proposal
    • Providing specific edits to specific aims or research plan
    • Providing specific advice on experimental design
  • Share details of an upcoming FOA that has not yet been published in the NIH Guide
  • Share information that is not in the public domain 

Tips for Reaching Out

  • Do your homework prior to reaching out
    • PO time is limited; focus your interactions on items that can't be answered elsewhere
    • Check online resources (NIH Grants and Funding site, Policy & Compliance, How to Apply - Application Guide, FAQs)
    • Consult with your Office of Sponsored Research or similar administrative office - they often have a wealth of resources and can discuss any institution-specific procedures
    • Reach out to colleagues and mentors for specific advice and suggestions on proposals
  • Use email to initiate the connection
  • Organize your thoughts - draft specific aims or a few paragraphs that succinctly describe your proposed research
  • Be specific
  • Use the subject line to convey your main “ask”
  • Provide grant number, opportunity number, mechanism or other available details
  • Explain why you are reaching out and give enough context for the PO to be prepared for a meaningful discussion
  • Don’t wait until the last minute
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – no one will think less of you for not knowing the answer

Where to Find Contact Information

  • When exploring NIH
    • Look at organization charts and staff directories on NIH Institute or Center (IC) websites (see Institute and Center (IC) Contacts)
    • Use our Matchmaker Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimertool in RePORT Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer to find NIH funded grants on topics related to yours
      • A Program officials tab identifies the program officials associated with the matched projects and includes its own filters for Institute/Center and Activity Code
  • After finding an FOA
    • Refer to section VII of the FOA for Scientific/Research Contact(s)
  • After application submission or award
    • Look in your eRA account for the assigned program staff contact for your application

Scientific Review Officers


  • Review applications for completeness and conformance with application requirements
  • Ensure fair and unbiased evaluation of scientific and technical merit
  • Provide a summary of the evaluation in the form of summary statements for applicants

When to Contact

  • To discuss the review assignment
  • To request permission to send additional/corrective materials
  • To discuss any review concerns (e.g., expertise needed on the review panel, conflicts, reviewers that may have bias)

Where to Find Contact Information

  • After finding an FOA
    • Refer to section VII of the FOA for Peer Review Contact(s)
  • After application submission
    • Look in your eRA account or Notice of Award for the name and contact information for the assigned scientific review officer for your application

Grants Management Officials


  • Evaluate applications for administrative content and compliance with policy
  • Negotiate Awards
  • Interpret grants administration policies

When to Contact

  • To discuss financial or grants administration issues
  • For interpretation of grants policies

Where to Find Contact Information

  • After finding an FOA
    • Refer to section VII of the FOA for Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)
  • After application submission and/or award
    • Look in your eRA account for the name and contact information for the assigned grants management staff for your application

Receipt and Referral Staff

Staff in Division of Receipt and Referral in NIH’s Center of Scientific Review


  • Evaluate applications for compliance with policy
  • Assign applications to institutes/centers or partner agencies for funding consideration
  • Assign applications to appropriate group for initial peer review

When to Contact

  • To identify institutes/centers at NIH or a Scientific Review Group (SRG) that might be appropriate for your application
  • To request a reassignment of an application to an institute, center or review group seems inappropriate, the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) may request reassignment in writing
  • To officially withdraw an application from funding consideration prior to review

Where to Find Contact Information

  • When Exploring NIH
  • To request reassignment or withdrawal of an application
    • Send an email to with an attached letter including: an ink signature of an authorized organization representative, name of contact PD/PI, application number, and the details of the request.
    • Use the eRA Commons to withdraw an application (see Withdraw Your Application for details)