NINDS's Building Up the Nerve

Episode 5: Receipt and Referral

December 13, 2019 NINDS Season 1 Episode 5
Episode 5: Receipt and Referral
NINDS's Building Up the Nerve
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NINDS's Building Up the Nerve
Episode 5: Receipt and Referral
Dec 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 5

Learn what happens to your application after you hit submit from Karrah Benson, Referral Program Specialist, and Dr. Carlos Faraco, Health Program Specialist.

Building Up the Nerve is a podcast from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for neuroscience trainees that takes you through the life cycle of a grant from idea to award at NINDS with the people who make it happen. We know that applying for NIH funding can be daunting, but we’re here to help—it’s our job!


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Learn what happens to your application after you hit submit from Karrah Benson, Referral Program Specialist, and Dr. Carlos Faraco, Health Program Specialist.

Building Up the Nerve is a podcast from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for neuroscience trainees that takes you through the life cycle of a grant from idea to award at NINDS with the people who make it happen. We know that applying for NIH funding can be daunting, but we’re here to help—it’s our job!


Lauren Ullrich:   0:02
Welcome to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke's Building up the Nerve, a podcast for neuroscience trainees that takes you through the life cycle of a grant from idea to award at NINDS with the people who make it happen. We know that applying for NIH funding can be daunting, but we're here to help. It's our job.  

Marguerite Matthews:   0:21
Hi, I'm Marguerite Matthews, a health program specialist at NINDS.

Lauren Ullrich:   0:26
And I'm Lauren Ullrich, a scientific program manager at NINDS, and we're your hosts.

Marguerite Matthews:   0:30
Last time we discussed putting together the application. Today, we're going to talk about what happens after you hit submit with the receipt and referral process, where applications are assigned to an NIH Institute, a program directors portfolio and a study section for review. Before we start, I'll say our disclaimer: everything we talk about may only be relevant for NINDS. If you're applying to a different NIH institute or center, it's always best to check with them about their policies.

Lauren Ullrich:   0:58
So this may be dating myself a little bit, but did you know I submitted my first fellowship application by mail?

Lauren Ullrich:   1:04
and by mail do you mean, like Postal service?  

Lauren Ullrich:   1:06
Postal service!

Marguerite Matthews:   1:07
Or like a carrier pigeon?

Lauren Ullrich:   1:10
I know, I'm just kidding  don't know. I'm just getting me throwing

Marguerite Matthews:   0:00
I know, I'm just kidding.

Lauren Ullrich:   1:14
So don't be throwing punches here. Yeah, actually. And so I actually knew people at Georgetown that would drive it over to NIH because they were too close to the deadline, the five PM deadline and needed to get it in, and they would physically hand it to someone.

Marguerite Matthews:   1:28
Wow, What a time to be alive. 

Lauren Ullrich:   1:38
So joining us today are Karrah Benson, our referral program specialist, and Dr Carlos Faracco a health program specialist in the division of clinical research. So let's start with introductions. Karrah?

Karrah Benson:   1:51
Hi, I'm Karrah Benson, I actually wear two hats at NINDS. So I am the guide liaison, and I'm also a receipt and referral specialist. There are two of us on the receipt and referral end, Maureen Hambrecht would be my co partner. I basically help publish funding opportunity announcements and notices on the front end and then on the receipt and referral end, I help sort applications with program directors once they're signed to NINDS. And some of what I do with receipt and referral is also negotiating the transfer of applications between ICs. As for how long I've been with NINDSs. It's actually been seven years, but I've been in my current position for three and prior to this current position I'm in, I used to work with the epilepsy therapy screening program  and I was the program coordinator in the division of translational research. And some hobbies that I have: I'm a big fan of soccer, especially women's soccer, love the World Cup this summer. I love going to concerts, specifically country concerts, but any concerts And I enjoy doing activities outdoors specifically with my my pit bull Zeus and if you know me here, you probably know more about my dog than you do about me. 

Lauren Ullrich:   3:03
I cannot believe you didn't mention the Capitals, Karrah.

Marguerite Matthews:   3:05
I also can't believe you didn't mention that. I thought that was gonna be thing number one.

Karrah Benson:   3:10
That's my shared hobby with my mom. So it's more her hobby, and I take interest in it because of her. But she's--I don't know what happened. She just went Caps crazy about a decade ago and never looked back.

Lauren Ullrich:   3:24

Carlos Faraco:   3:25
So as Lauren mentioned, I'm a health program specialist in the division of clinical research. And that means I wear a lot of hats and do a lot of different things, but basically I help the program directors manage and track various programmatic activities. And I also help with some of our clinical networks, including our stroke and pain clinical networks. I've only been here for 10 months. I'm still learning the ropes. There is a lot to learn, as I think everybody in this room knows. And so hopefully you know, another year or two I'll have everything figured out.

Marguerite Matthews:   3:57
Or not. This is a huge place!

Lauren Ullrich:   3:58
They just change it on you and you've got something new to learn  

Marguerite Matthews:   4:04
Always a challenge.

Carlos Faraco:   4:06
And so, before starting at NINDS, I was actually a  AAAS science and technology policy fellow at the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences within the National Institute of Justice, which, as people probably do not know, is actually a research arm of the DOJ. And before there I was a postdoc for about three and 1/2 years at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science, and I worked with Manus Donahue developing MR acquisitions and analyses to stratify stroke risk and patients with intracranial stenosis. And as far as what I like to do outside of work, well, I would say lots of things. I like to ride my motorcycle on the racetrack. I play guitar. I particularly enjoy going to death metal concerts and um  

Marguerite Matthews:   4:53

Carlos Faraco:   4:55
yes, some some people find that funny

Marguerite Matthews:   4:57
to know Carlos is to know why that is funny

Carlos Faraco:   4:59
Exactly. And I also try to keep pretty active, I like weightlifting, running, cycling. And most importantly, I love to cook.

Marguerite Matthews:   5:07
What's your favorite type of food to cook?

Carlos Faraco:   5:10
I would say, probably Thai food. And I'm Cuban, so definitely Cuban food too.

Lauren Ullrich:   5:13
Don't want to get disowned here.

Marguerite Matthews:   5:28
Right. All right. So can you tell us a little about how i NIH determines which IC an application is assigned to?

Karrah Benson:   5:29
So that's actually a bit of a complicated answer. While many NIH policies give the division of receipt referral the ability to determine assignments, they actually work with SROs, with program officers, and with applicants, to reach the institute and program staff that's best suited to be assigned to an application. Additionally, I would say that the most important factor limiting which institute or center can be assigned to an application is whether those ICs are actually participating in the funding opportunity announcement. I would just say that a lot of applications that we receive are in response to specific FOAs and folks don't necessarily check to see whether those institutes are participating in that FOA. And unfortunately, sometimes that can change while the FOA is active as well. So it's important to just check for guide notices and any changes in the FOA because maybe when you set out to submit an application and IC is participating in a FOA and then at the time where you actually go to submit, that's no longer the case.

Lauren Ullrich:   6:30
And IC can also join after the fact too, ao you might see a FOA and say, oh, you know, my institutes not participating. And then they join later, and you might miss out if you don't pay attention.

Karrah Benson:   6:41
Yeah, and we often get a lot of questions about dual assignments, too, which can be confusing to folks. In some cases, applications can receive a dual assignment and, as you know, a participating IC is identified for primary assignment for funding consideration based on the focus of the application and the mission relevance of the IC. Dual assignments acknowledge a shared interest in a topic and make all appropriate ICs aware of the application. I'd also like to point out that a dual assignment does not necessarily increase the chance of an award, which confuses some applicants. The frequency of a duel assignment leading to a change to primary and award is actually less than 2%. Some applicants do ask us how much of an application is read when making an IC assignment. And the honest answer is as much of the application as needed to make that determination. Referral staff have access to the entire application. In many cases, they concentrate on the abstract and specific aims when making the assignment with attention also paid to the research strategy. Requests made by investigators and the assignment of previous applications are also considered. So, referral staff regularly discuss the assignment of applications and how to handle unusual situations.

Lauren Ullrich:   7:57
So, if there's a specific IC or a specific study section that you think your application should go to, how can you ask for that assignment and does NIH have to abide by that request?

Carlos Faraco:   8:12
So ask for a specific IC or study section assignment. You can use what's called the assignment request form, and that's available to all applicants when they submit their applications. And NIH does actually encourage all applicants to use this. And so, aside from requesting a specific IC, right, you can also direct your application to a particular study section or scientific review group, and you can provide NIH with information to help us conduct that review. So, for example, the PI can use this form to even describe the type of expertise needed to review his or her application and notify NIH of potential reviewers who they may feel might be in conflict with the application. However, there are a few caveats to when this form is actually applicable. So, if you're responding to a specific request for applications or RFA, the review location for that application has already been predetermined. So it would mean nothing in that case, in terms of the review assignment.

Karrah Benson:   9:06
Ah, yes. So just to add to that a lot of times, folks do the effort of reaching out to program staff in advance of their submission and they don't include that in their cover letter. And despite the fact that the assignment request form is the preferred method to request an IC assignment, if you have worked with a program director in advance of submission, feel free to include that in the cover letter. It can help with a lot of parts of the process of choosing the appropriate IC. But I find there are definitely occasions where people do all this work with the program director and don't include it, and we get an email later on down the road saying, Hey, you know, I worked with this person, why wasn't my application assigned here? And we're not always, you know, aware of that in advance. Occasionally we can be. But some of the program directors get hundreds of thousands of requests, so it's important just to include as much information as possible to help make the process goes smoothly.

Carlos Faraco:   10:01
And so to answer the second part of the question then, which is does NIH abide by the request? The answer is that NIH does try to abide by that request and consider whatever that applicant is saying. However, each application is examined by a team of NIH experts and depending on the nature of the research, that ICs participating in the funding announcement, as well as the requirements of that funding announcement, and the IC mission relevance, applications might be given to a different IC than the one the applicant actually requested.

Lauren Ullrich:   10:29
Right and and reaching out beforehand can kind of help avoid surprises like that, because you'll be in a dialogue with program directors, sometimes at multiple institutes, to try and find the best fit before you even submit. And so because this podcast is directed mostly at trainees, we like to ask, you know, are there any differences in this part of the process when it comes to fellowships or career development awards?

Karrah Benson:   10:52
Specifically for fellows, I would absolutely look at the eligibility criteria in the FOAs because its very specific and does vary by institute. So I would just make sure to touch base with a program director for the IC you are interested in and just make sure that you are eligible at the time of submission for the FOA.

Carlos Faraco:   0:00
For example, if you're trying to get some sort of post doc training award, you might have a certain time period in which you could have been a postdoc, but maybe you took a break in between there. So you need to figure out whether that break factors into that funding announcement.

Lauren Ullrich:   11:26
Yes, and specifically for postdoc for example, NINDS has a separate FOA, we don't participate on the parent F32 and it has very different eligibility criteria. And we're the only ones signed on to that FOA. And so if you're applying to us, you're applying to us, and you better make sure that you fall within our mission, otherwise you might get some bad news.

Marguerite Matthews:   11:49
So we've discussed a little bit about talking with program officers and program directors, and we've had a chance to talk with some program directors on the podcast. How does NINDS decide which program directors hold which grants? So basically what grants are in their portfolio and what is a grant portfolio?

Karrah Benson:   12:08
This is a good question. This is an answer that maybe changes all the time. We're constantly changing portfolios and have new staff on boarding and etcetera, etcetera. Program directors at NINDs oversee the research activities in one or more part of the institute's research funding program, managing a portfolio of grants, contracts and coordinating program efforts on these specifically defined areas of neuroscience research. Applicants can actually visit the NINDS website. We actually have a page called Who Are We? And on this page they will be able to view program directors and their specific research areas that are associated with each of them and are also able to use the matchmaker tool. That's with the NIH Reporter. I would highly recommend using that, maybe not necessarily to find a program director, but it's a good place to get started when you're looking for which IC your research area might fall under. And additionally, you can also look up with the matchmaker tool, program directors and see similar applications that have been awarded and are under their portfolios. Additionally, as applications come in each day, they're assigned based on research area, and it's up to the program directors to make the final decision on who's portfolio and application actually falls under.

Lauren Ullrich:   13:21
And the way that the fellowships and the career development awards work, is that they--the actual application will live in the scientific portfolio with the scientific program director, but the OPEN office and the Training Office work very closely with that scientific program officer. And also the applicants to help them put together the best application that they can.

Marguerite Matthews:   13:47
Right. So for our audience, if you're a trainee, you may often be speaking with multiple people in different offices that are trying to make sure that both the science and the training and mentoring plans in an application are where they should be for submission.

Lauren Ullrich:   14:02
So, sometimes we hear NIH officials talk about an application being "non responsive" to an FOA. So what does that mean? And what happens if your application is deemed non responsive?

Carlos Faraco:   14:19
So it's actually a great question because as an applicant you might imagine that you've done everything correctly, and then all of a sudden, you get a notice that your application is non responsive. And of course you're very surprised because, hey, I just did everything correctly. What's wrong? So, applications that are submitted to an RFA, again, a request for application, or what is called a notice of special interests or a NOSI, those applications can actually be assessed for being non-responsive. And so, responsiveness is a determination of whether or not an application responds to or meets the needs or requirements stated within that particular funding opportunity announcement. If something is deemed non responsive, it that means it doesn't satisfy the terms of that funding announcement. And if that application is deemed non responsive, it will not be reviewed and will most likely need to be withdrawn. So it'll be withdrawn and you'll need to revise application and then submit again at some other time point. So, for example, one type of non responsive application that we often see is a clinical trial that may be submitted to a FOA that says clinical trials not allowed. So in that case, you're proposing some sort of clinical trial research, clearly to something that says that clinical trials are not allowed. When that application is reviewed, it will be deemed non responsive and most likely withdrawn.

Marguerite Matthews:   15:34
So what happens if an application is incomplete or it does not follow the instructions of application submission?

Karrah Benson:   15:42
Completeness is actually something that is assessed by the division of receipt referral, DRR and Carlos. And I thought it might be better to actually go a little bit into what they're actually looking for to assess completeness. So we did come up with a few items that we just wanted to discuss. And then we'll address the question at hand. Essentially, when DRR receives an application, they have a pretty hard job. They receive over 100,000 applications a year, and every single one gets assessed for completeness and compliance with the FOA. Specifically, some of the things they look for is whether or not the application even fits the NINDS or specifically NIH mission--we do get applications that are not relevant to NIH at all. They also look for, "Is the applicant eligible for the FOA?" Specifically for fellows, this would be one because the eligibility criteria really differs between FOAs. They also look at, "Does the application include information in inappropriate places or locations to try and circumvent page limits?" This is something that happens all the time. The application will be withdrawn if this happens, if they find this in the application.

Lauren Ullrich:   16:48
So one big example of that that we see sometimes is the appendix. The appendix rules changed a few years back to severely limit what's allowed in the appendix. And sometimes people try to put information in there, and that's considered trying to circumvent the page limits. And it will be rejected. And we at NINDS have no control...

Marguerite Matthews:   17:10
No control

Lauren Ullrich:   17:10
...we can beg on our knees that the application be allowed to come in and CSR just won't let them do it.

Karrah Benson:   17:16
I would absolutely agree with that. We see it happen a lot and there is an application guide that can be found on the NIH website, and I would highly recommend using that with the FOA. But do remember that instructions in the FOA do trump the application guide. So if there is something written to include in the appendix or that you can include the appendix, that does override what's written in the application guide, and if you have questions, you can always ask a program director as well. Some of the other things that they look for are does the application include information and all critical sections? Is it a complete application? If it's missing information, it will be withdrawn. They additionally, look at does the application contains sufficient information for the review group to evaluate scientific and technical merit? Does the applicant have another application with essentially the same content currently under review? And we'll cover that a little bit more later, but that is a really important question. Another thing they look for is, does the application adhere to the specific instructions of the FOA? And lastly, there are a few other important aspects of grant applications, such as information on human subjects and vertebrate animals and plans for resource sharing. But these are scrutinized at other stages of the grant process. And to go back to the question at hand that we were initially asked, which is what happens if your application is deemed incomplete or if your application did not follow instructions? That application will not be reviewed and will actually be withdrawn, and applicants will receive a notification in their ERA Commons account on I would like to add  one plug here if I can. If the error is caught early enough, hint, hint, which means the application was actually submitted well in advance of the receipt date, the applicant may have enough time to resubmit for the same cycle. And if not, the applicant will have to wait till the next council round and that's completely out of our hands to do anything about. So, would highly encourage applicants to submit applications early on. Don't look at that five o'clock PM receipt date deadline as the time to submit a an application, but actually look at that as the time your error free application needs to be submitted.

Marguerite Matthews:   19:25
That's great advice.

Lauren Ullrich:   19:27
So, you know, thinking about planning out your submission, How long does it take between when somebody applies and when they're likely to get their award?

Carlos Faraco:   19:39
I guess the answer to that would be approximately 6 to 9 months.

Lauren Ullrich:   19:43
And so that means that applicants are probably not gonna be able to resubmit their application for the exact next cycle

Carlos Faraco:   19:52
Right, and that topic of resubmission is I guess could be said to be a technical one as to what that term actually means. So right, if it's your first application, if you don't get the award, then you'll probably have a resubmission, and that initial application is deemed in A0, and that recent mission will be deemed in A1. Now, NIH no longer limits the number of times you can submit an application with essentially the same content, but after that resubmission, if that application doesn't get awarded, you'll have to start a new submission. So you can't just keep on actually resubmitting the same grant over and over, you will have to start a new submission after the resubmission. So when you are ready to resubmit your application if your initial application was not awarded, you should definitely contact your assigned program officer from guidance and addressing the comments in your summary statement. Another important point to keep in mind is that even though you are allowed to resubmit the same content, it is not allowable to have overlapping at applications under review at the same time. And there are specific, detailed documents that provide guidance on what that means. And so this one particular document that you should refer to his NOT-OD-14 -074

Marguerite Matthews:   21:18
And we'll talk a little bit more about the re submission process on whether or not you should resubmit or submit a new application in later episodes.

Lauren Ullrich:   21:25

Karrah Benson:   21:26
I would like to add one item of clarification, and that is once an application is under review, it is still in that status until the summary statement is actually released. We do have folks who, once the review has concluded, will submit something in the days after. But as long as the summary statement has not been released, that application is still under review and your new application or your new submission will be withdrawn because it's technically an illegal submission cause you actually have two applications under review at the same time.

Lauren Ullrich:   21:56
Right. We want you to be able to take into account the feedback from the reviewers before you are able to submit that application again.

Carlos Faraco:   22:05
Correct. And then once you are ready to submit, we definitely urge you to contact your assigned program officer for guidance and addressing the comments you received in your summary statement.

Marguerite Matthews:   22:22
Well, thank you both for being here to share your wisdom with us today. Can I ask each of you for one last piece of parting advice for our listeners?

Karrah Benson:   22:31
We have more than piece of advice.  

Lauren Ullrich:   22:34
That is also ok 

Marguerite Matthews:   0:00
Breaking the rules, alright!  

Carlos Faraco:   22:35
So many things!

Karrah Benson:   22:35
So I would say the number one suggestion I have is for applicants to reach out to program staff early on in the planning stages of your application submission. There's no such thing as too early. And it's in everyone's best interest for you to reach out to a program director, cause they can not only help you find the appropriate IC and the appropriate staff here at NINDS or maybe on another IC, but also make sure you're applying to the correct FOA. It's really unfortunate with the amount of time that everyone puts into applications and to see it withdrawn because it wasn't submitted to the right FOA or didn't meet the eligibility requirements is really disheartening for us, too. I'm sure more so on the receiving end, but we want applications to come in. We want the best science to be funded, so give yourself the best shot at that and reach out to program staff. They're they're here to help you.

Marguerite Matthews:   23:30
We probably sound like broken records. But you will hear this, you've heard this before on the podcast, you will continue to hear this on the podcast. The tagline should be building up the nerve contact your program officer first.

Karrah Benson:   23:42
if you've already done so congratulations, hats off to you. Because you've already taken the first best step you can do for yourself. But I would not keep reiterating it if we did not have applications withdrawn for this all the time.

Carlos Faraco:   23:56
Yeah, and before even contacting a program officer. You think that best suits your application. Make sure to read the FOA correctly so that you know that the institute that you think might best suit your research is actually participating in that funding announcement.

Lauren Ullrich:   24:11
Right and that's the first thing in the FOA, so there's no excuse to skip it.  

Marguerite Matthews:   24:14

Carlos Faraco:   24:15
And and again, like I mentioned earlier, right, make sure that you are submitting to a FOA that actually will accept the type of study you're proposing. So if you have a clinical trial study, make sure that that FOA accepts clinical trials. We get this all the time.

Lauren Ullrich:   24:31
And if you're not sure if you have a clinical trial, you can also ask your program officer

Carlos Faraco:   24:34
You can ask your program officer

Marguerite Matthews:   24:35
And a lot of the funding announcements now have it boldly in the title of the actual funding announcement. 

Carlos Faraco:   24:47
And people still get this wrong.

Marguerite Matthews:   24:47
People still get it wrong, so be sure to read! Reading is fundamental.

Karrah Benson:   24:47
And I would also encourage you before submission, part of submission, to check back with the FOA itself and make sure no notices or changes have happened in the meantime. Notices cannot affect a FOA within 30 days of the receipt date. So at least 30 days out, I would just double check and make sure that no other notices have come. If any notices are issued in the interim, they will not be able to take effect for that upcoming receipt date if it's within 30 days. But we do our best to try and make things as transparent as possible, and we're not trying to trick applicants with notices. Sometimes things are unavoidable and in the best interest of applicants that we put notices out. But for due diligence purposes, I would just check back and make sure that no notices have been issued an interim

Carlos Faraco:   25:33
And another point that we briefly touched on before was with applications being non responsive. So make sure that when you read the funding announcement that you look over those review criteria and in your application you specifically respond to those review criteria. Okay, just--otherwise, you're not addressing what the award is is wanting to address, and you might be deemed not responsive.

Karrah Benson:   25:58
And I would also say, figure out issues early on. Maybe not so applicable for fellowship applicants, but there are some circumstances where there are budget requirements; maybe you need advanced permission for an application to come in, if the application has direct costs greater than 500,000 in one year. This information is specifically stated in the FOA, but there are absolutely circumstances which you may need prior approval to come in. So again, I'm gonna refer you to go back to your program director and just make sure that you have--that you fit all of the criteria and you have all the approvals you need to submit an application. In addition, there some other important aspects of the FOA what that I would make sure to pay close attention to: you should consider implications if you're a new investigator or from a foreign institution. Sometimes there are specific instructions and criteria that needs to be met and can delay your award if it's not met. Also, consider if your project includes human subjects of vertebrate animals because there are additional steps that need to be taken when this is the situation.

Carlos Faraco:   27:05
And I guess the last thing to keep in mind and which is something that I think most people have heard and probably something that we encountered as when we were applicants, is that really should submit your application well ahead of the receipt date. You don't want to be submitting your application at 5 p.m. Eastern time the day that it's due, because typically there is an error somewhere. Maybe you didn't commit that error, maybe there's an error on the admin side, who knows? There is likely going to be some error that's going to have to be corrected. And the last thing you want to be doing is stressing that your application is not going to be submitted on time after you've worked on this for you know, who knows how long,  

Marguerite Matthews:   27:43
Hopefully, months!  

Carlos Faraco:   27:44
Hopefully months!

Karrah Benson:   27:46
I would just keep in mind, too, CSR and Division of receipt and referral, they sort through over 100,000 applications and the closer to the receipt date you are, the larger number of applications are actually reviewing. And so they try to get through these as timely as they can and as efficiently as they can. But if you submit far in advance of the deadline, there's a higher likelihood that any errors will be found early on in the process. And you may have the opportunity to fix those errors and still resubmit for the same cycle. So I know we keep kind of reiterating this, but I these are very common errors that happen every day. And like I said, we're here to help and we want these applications to come in. We want the best science to be funded and seeing things not come through because of small errors. We're not trying to make life more difficult for everybody. We want an even playing field for everybody

Marguerite Matthews:   28:37
Yes, help us, help you.

Carlos Faraco:   28:39
And if there is an error that you do find and you have submitted ahead of time, well, you have, I believe, 48 hours correct? to resubmit that and correct those errors.

Marguerite Matthews:   28:49
Lauren, do you have any advice?

Lauren Ullrich:   28:50
I would say, you know, Carlos stole the advice that I was going to give, so...  

Marguerite Matthews:   28:55
Snatched it right out of your brain

Lauren Ullrich:   28:56
...And so I would say, um, the other player in this process that we haven't talked about that much is the grants office at your institution. Because that is often the person that actually hits submit. It's no longer you putting your stuff into an envelope and sending it off to the postal service by yourself

Marguerite Matthews:   29:13
handing it off

Lauren Ullrich:   29:14
Now there's an additional person, and we have had situations where a draft of the application was uploaded instead of the final copy. And because it wasn't submitted early enough, it wasn't caught. And that was actually what went through review, which is, like, you know, the nightmare scenario that wakes you up in the middle of the night. And so the earlier you submit, the more time you have to look over that final copy that mirrors what the reviewers will see, and you can check and make sure that it that it looks right. What about you, Marguerite?

Marguerite Matthews:   29:49
I can imagine that our listeners might be very overwhelmed with the thought of something bad happening after they've hit submit or their business official at their university has hit submit. But I just want to encourage you to be confident in the work that you have put in. Make yourself a checklist. Take things off of the FOA, put it in a way that you will look through it and be able to go through your application. And it's important to read things carefully, but there are a lot of things to read. Just take your time and the more time you give yourself to prepare your application, the more likely you're going to be able to submit something that is in compliance that is responsive, that does meet the eligibility criteria, that does get assigned to the right place. Many people submit their applications successfully and many people get awards. So it's something that can happen, but you just want to ensure that you are doing everything that you can in your power to make sure that you make your life easier and then you allow us, that once it reaches us here at NIH that we are able to make sure that you're getting a good review and things can go smoothly from that point on.

Karrah Benson:   30:56
And I'd like to just add to that. We have a much larger percentage of the applications that do come through without problems. We're just, you know, touching on some of the problems because we hope for the day where every application comes through completed   

Marguerite Matthews:   31:10

Karrah Benson:   31:10
and none are sent back or rejected for any minor errors. That is our dream.  

Lauren Ullrich:   31:17

Karrah Benson:   31:17
For every application to come through problem free.

Marguerite Matthews:   31:20
We do want to see your application make it all the way through the review process. So again, help us help you. Try to be as diligent as you can on your end, and you know we'll take it from there.  

Lauren Ullrich:   31:37
So that's all we have time for today on Building up The Nerve. So thank you again to our guests this week for sharing their expertise and thank you to program director Bob Riddle for our theme song and music. We'll see you next time when we tackle scientific review. You confined past episodes of this podcast and many more grant application resources on the web at

Marguerite Matthews:   31:56
And be sure to follow us on Twitter @NINDSdiversity and @NINDSfunding. You can email us your questions at Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app so you don't miss an episode. We'll see you next time.