NIH has reissued the parent F32 announcement for submissions after November 8, 2020

The Program Announcement (PA) for the parent F32 has been reissued.

The new announcement (PA-21-048) should be used for applications after November 8, 2020.

Current participating institutes include:

National Institutes of Health
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

What’s a good timeline for writing a grant?

When writing a grant, start early, leave time for reviewing your work, and set deadlines for yourself.

There are some deadlines that are HARD deadlines (eg the grant due date and possibly the date for routing your grant through the university).

Other deadlines (eg writing, review, asking for letters, etc) are best case scenarios and if you can keep them, give you time for constructive feedback from others as well as self-editing.

What should I be doing ….4-6 months before a deadline?
  • Get your eRA commons username and ORCID ID
  • Start working on your BIOSKETCH and a SPECIFIC AIMS Page – You will need some version of these whether you are applying to NIH or another funder
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel – Find a copy of a successful proposal
  • Regardless of where you’re submitting your grant – Contact the Program Officer / Funder – this might save you a lot of time/effort if it turns out the funder isn’t interested in or doesn’t fund the type of project you’re submitting.
  • Start proposal ‘notebook’ – obtain all necessary forms and information; start on forms
  • Participate in REGULAR, ACTIVE discussions with mentor
  • Take advantage of resources / workshops / training / editing
  • If you are applying for a Fellowship or mentored career development grant
    • Formulate RESEARCH TRAINING PLAN – draft an outline with all required sections
    • Check to see if the grant requires reference letters – now is when you should identify individuals who can provide letters of reference and make the initial request
    • Contact the NIH training staff to make sure that mechanism you are applying to is the best choice for you
What should I be doing….1-2 months before the deadline? 
  • Write/revise full-length drafts of your proposal
  • Start Emory routing and assemble application
  • If required, Check on your Letters of Recommendation -be clear on due date
  • Circulate all sections of your proposal for quality critique and review
What should I be doing …. with less than 2 weeks before the deadline?
  • Circulate final versions of your proposal for quality critique and review
  • Final Emory routing
  • Recheck instructions to make sure complete all components
  • Submit

I just moved from another university and I already have an eRA Commons username – How do I change my affiliation to Emory University?

If  you have an eRA Commons ID from another university and are now at Emory, you need change your affiliation.



  • Contact the Emory Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP, email
  • Tell them you are a postdoc at Emory and your eRA Commons username
  • Tell them you need to change your affiliation to Emory
  • Also make sure that you have the correct ‘Role’ in eRA Commons
    • ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ if you are not submitting grants
    • ‘PI’ if you are planning on submitting a grant (F32, K or R, CDC, VA, etc)

What is eRA Commons and why should you have an eRA Commons username?

What is eRA Commons?

Definition: eRA Commons – The electronic Research Administration (eRA) provides the IT infrastructure to manage grants awarded by the NIH and other government agencies. eRA Commons is the site for interfacing between the federal agency, grant reviewers, the university, and you.

Why/When do postdocs need to access eRA Commons?
  • If you are paid on a federal grant (for more than 1 calendar month) and the PI of that grant is submitting an annual progress report – your PI must include your eRA commons username
  • If anyone is submitting a grant with you on it, and you are including your biosketch (ie you are Key Personnel) – your eRA commons ID must be included on your biosketch
  • If you are submitting a federal grant:
    • Communicating with any NIH program officials before you submit, your biosketch should have an eRA commons ID
    • When you submit, your profile gets pulled into the application from eRA commons
    • F32 Letters of reference submitted directly to eRA commons and then linked to the application
    • After you submit a grant, you will log into eRA commons to find out the status of your grant (where assigned, dates of review, scores, summary statement, etc), to submit your Just In Time information, to submit Progress reports and Completion reports)
How do you get an eRA Commons Username?

Request an eRA Commons username (same as commons ID) by emailing the Emory Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP, email).

  • Tell them you are a postdoc and need an eRA Commons username
  • Request a ‘Role’ in eRA Commons
    • ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ if you are not submitting grants
    • ‘PI’ if you are planning on submitting a grant (F32, K or R, CDC, VA, etc)

Once OSP sends you your username, go to eRA Commons to set up your account.

Also contact OSP if you already have an eRA commons username, but it is affiliated with a different university – only Emory OSP can change your affiliation

What is an ORCID ID? Do you need one? How do you get one?

What is an ORCID iD (Open Researcher and Contributor ID

Definition: ORCID iD = Unique and persistent individual identification numbers which are used to identify individual scientific contributors and authors, and to distinguish individual scientists from others.

  • Launched in 2012, ORCID iDs can particularly help distinguish individuals who have similar names.
  • Over 7000 journals now also use ORCID IDs
  • ORCIDs iDs are issued free of charge and are assigned by the non-profit organization ORCID, Inc.
Do you need an ORCID iD? Maybe
  • Beginning in federal Fiscal Year 2020, NIH, AHRQ, and CDC will require that individuals supported by research training (T), fellowship (F), research education (R25/R38/RL5/RL9), and career development (K) awards have ORCID iDs.
  • If you are not supported by the grants listed above, you are not required to have an ORCID iD, but I recommend that you get one. It’s an easy way for NIH to link people, funding and publications so eventually, everyone will be required to have one. The ORCID iD also facilitates manuscript submission as many journals use the ORCID iD to identify authors.
How to get an ORCID iD if you have an eRA Commons Username

Login to eRA Commons and Click on the ‘Personal Profile’ Tab

Over on the left-hand side you should see a spot for your ORCID iD

If you don’t have an ORCID ID linked to eRA Commons, this will say ‘Create or Connect your ORCID iD

Follow the instructions in the link

How to get an ORCID iD if you DON’T have an eRA Commons Username

First – I highly recommend you get an eRA Commons Username (see the blog). But if you just want to get an ORCID iD, go to the ORCID iD website

Once you are on their website you Register for an account and they will issue you an ORCID iD.



Federal Funding Listservs that you should subscribe to

An easy way to keep up with the available funding opportunities, is to sign up to receive electronic alerts from the funder. This is especially true for grants from the federal government. Several of the listservs you should subscribe to include:

NIH Guide to Grants and ContractsTrack the release of new funding opportunity announcements and notices that we publish in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts

Extramural NexusProvides information on current grant funding opportunities and NIH news

Federal grant fundingA source to find all federal funding opportunities. Includes NIH, DOD, NSF, CDC, VA, and more

How to Find Funding

There are several different approaches you can take to find funding:

  • Web Search
  • Funder webpages
  • Searchable databases
  • Look at what’s been funded
Web Search

This is pretty straight forward. Use your favorite browser and use terms specific to your research. You can make the search relatively narrow –

            Who funds liver physiology research?

Or you can make the search broad – this type of search will bring up a lot of university related websites posting information for their postdocs

             Who funds postdoctoral research?

As you search and find opportunities that might work for you, take the language used by the funders to direct additional searches

Funder Webpages

Funding can come from different sources (disease associations, professional associations, industry, the government, etc)

Each of these sources has their own website where they advertise their funding opportunities. 

An easy way to keep up with the available funding opportunities, is to sign up to receive electronic alerts from the funder. This is especially true for grants from the federal government. Several of the listservs you should subscribe to include:

NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts

Extramural Nexus

All Federal Grant Funding

In addition to the general funding listservs above, you should make sure you’re signed up to receive news from the Institute or Centers that are most likely to fund your research. Remember that there may be more than one Institutes or Center that could fund your research – For example a project investigating the use of massage for cancer-related fatigue could be funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) or the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Or as actually happened in the case of this project, the NCI and NCCIH cooperatively funded the project. So think creatively about who might be interested in funding your research:

  • What is the Disease/Health relevance?
  • What population is the research relevant to (child, elderly, under-represented minority, etc)?
  • What methods are you using or developing (imaging, genetics, mobile technology, etc)?
  • What outcomes (quality of life, behavior, policy, etc) are you interested in?
Searchable Databases

There are a number of sites that gather information from potential funders. One such site is Partners

Partners has a listing of over 60 searchable databases and funding sources – You can set up a profile and receive notices of funding opportunities that might be relevant to you or your research



As an Emory Postdoc, you have access to two other funding databases. You can access these database directly using your Emory email.  

Grant Forward (over 9000 sponsors) Allows you to set filters and receive notifications of relevant funding





Foundation Directory Online (140,000 foundations) Also has grant writing resources

Look at what has been funded

Who is funding research that is related to your research? One way to find out is to pay attention when you are reading published manuscripts. Almost all of publications will acknowledge the funder of the research. 

To see which NIH Institutes and Centers are funding research like yours, you can use NIH Reporter.

NIH RePORTER allows you to “search a repository of NIH-funded research projects and access publications and patents resulting from that funding”.

NIH Reporter allows you to examine published abstracts of funded NIH research to see how others in your field describe their Specific Aims which are typically included in the Abstract

You can do searches to determine:

  • Who is funded to do what I do?
  • Where are they doing it?
  • Which Institute is funding this work?
  • See all funded awards at Emory or in Georgia
Additional Resources for Finding Funding

NATUREJOBS BLOG – The postdoc series: Finding Funding

Science – Where to search for funding


The National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)

‘…NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $32 billion a year to enhance life, and reduce illness and disability… NIH funded research has led to breakthroughs and new treatments, helping people live longer, healthier lives, and building the research foundation that drives discovery.’

The NIH is the United States medical research agency. It supports scientific studies that turn discovery into health.

The NIH is divided into 27 different Institutes and Centers. Each Center/Institute:

  • Has it’s own research mission
  • Has it’s own strategic plan (how they will accomplish their mission)
  • Their own funding opportunities



Multiple Institutes or Centers could potentially fund your research – Institutes are organized around themes and more than one could apply to your research:

  • Disease/Health relevance
  • Population
    • Child
    • Elderly
    • Minority
  • Methods
  • Outcomes (quality of life, behavior, policy, etc)


What funding mechanisms can postdocs at Emory apply for?

Funding mechanisms can be split into two basic sources:

  • Non-Federal Funding which includes foundations, industry, societies and other sources
  • Federal Funding which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DOD) among others

Non-Federal Funding opportunities

Non-Federal Funding opportunities for Emory postdocs include: Foundations, industry, societies, etc, all of which fund different types of grants:

  • Fellowships
  • Career Development Awards
  • Young Investigator Awards
  • Pilot / Exploratory / Discovery
  • Small Grant
  • Travel

Postdoc eligibility for non-federal funding will depend primarily on the rules of the funder. If you have questions about eligibility, Emory Postdocs can ask:

  • Their PI
  • The Emory Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) at osp [at] emory [dot] edu
  • The funder – contact information posted with the funding opportunity

Federal Funding Opportunities

Federal funding opportunities are available to Emory postdocs from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DOD) among others

Information in this post will focus on NIH funding opportunities for several reasons:

  • NIH funding is the gold standard for research success
  • All academic institutes, medical schools and departments in the United States are ranked by the amount of NIH funding. For example, Emory University School of Medicine has the following information on their website

“Medical school faculty received $456.3 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2018, …. Ranked 18th nationally in NIH dollars received, the school is best known for its work in infectious disease, brain health, heart disease, cancer, transplantation, orthopaedics, pediatrics, renal disease, ophthalmology, and geriatrics.”

Postdocs at Emory are eligible to apply for the following types of NIH grants:

  • NIH Individual Fellowships (F series)
  • NIH Research Career Development Awards (K series)
  • NIH Small Grant Program (R03)
  • NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research (R21)

F32 Fellowship Award

  • The F32 Postdoctoral Fellowships are restricted to postdoctoral fellows (or equivalent) with US citizenship or permanent residency
  • You must have a dedicated sponsor/s (ie already accepted in a lab)
  • Secure research environment (ie Sponsor has money)
  • You desire a career in research as an independent professional in the biomedical workforce

NIH K – Career Development Award

  • There are multiple kinds of K awards (see the NIH Career Development page for a full listing) – 
    • Not all K awards are listed here; so be sure to search each Institute/Center web pages
  • You must desire a career as an independent research (academic) scientist
  • There are K awards for clinical versus non-clinical degrees
  • There are K awards for mentored versus not mentored projects
  • Some K awards serve as a transition to independence (K99/R00, K22) versus already have faculty status (or soon to have it) (K01)
  • Postdocs can apply to some, but not all of the K series

NIH R03 Small Grant

  • Emory postdocs can serve as the PI of an R03 grant, but successful funding of the R03 could disqualify you from applying for an F or K series award in the future.
  • The R03 grants fund small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources (They are 2 years in length and $50,000/year)
  • Types of projects that fit in the scope of an R03 are:
    • Pilot or feasibility studies
    • Secondary analysis of existing data
    • Small, self-contained research projects
    • Development of research methodology or technology

NIH R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

  • Emory postdocs can serve as the PI of an R21 grant, but successful funding of the R21 could disqualify you from applying for an F or K series award in the future.
  • R21 projects are considered high risk / high reward including exploratory, novel studies that break new ground or extend previous discoveries toward new directions or applications
  • R21 grants can be used for funding in the early and conceptual stages of a research project
  • Project length is 2 years; $275,000 total

A summary of NIH grants on which Emory Postdocs can serve as the Principle Investigator is shown in the table.

  F32 Fellowship K99/R00 K22 K01/K23/K08 R03/R21
US Citizen/Permanent Resident No restriction No restriction
Postdoc Depends on the NIH institute
          – Beginning      
           – Advanced    
Transitioning to faculty    

Why should you apply for grants?

Writing a grant is hard work. It takes special and sometimes new skills. Writing grants is challenging, time consuming, and with a funding line of 15-30%, the odds are your proposal won’t be funded. So why should you spend your time writing and applying for grants?


It is your pathway to independence as an academic scientist – If your goal is to be an independent, academic, scientist – then you must be able to convince funders to give you money for your research.

Grant funding is the internationally recognized credential for independent scientific achievement – If funders give money for your research consistently over time, it is assumed that you are productive and your research has impact. The more funding you have, the easier it becomes to get additional funding as your record begins to speak for itself.

Grant funding lets you set your own course of investigation – As long as you can convince a funder that your research is of value, you can decide what direction your research should go in and what questions you want to pursue.

But even if you don’t want to be an independent scientist in charge of your own lab, there are multiple reasons you should know how to write a grant:

  • You increase your value as a team member
  • You can participate in group submissions
  • You broaden your career opportunities

Knowing that grant writing is hard and requires new skills, you need to practice. Don’t wait until your career or position is on the line to write your first grant. Start writing and submitting now, when the consequences of failure (remember the odds) are less. And start writing and submitting grants when there are people offering to help!