Change in NIH Application Resubmission Policy

NIH has just announced a significant change in its policy for resubmission applications.

Effective immediately, for application due dates after April 16, 2014, following an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) application, applicants may submit the same idea as a new (A0) application for the next appropriate due date. NIH will not assess the similarity of the science in the new (A0) application to any previously reviewed submission when accepting an application for review.

NIH’s policy for accepting overlapping applications remains in effect (see NOT-OD-09-100), so it will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. This means that NIH will not review:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping 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).

The NIH time limit for accepting resubmission (A1) applications remains in effect, as well (see NOT-OD-12-128 and NOT-OD-10-140). NIH will not accept a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted later than 37 months after submission of the new (A0) application that it follows.

Also remaining in effect is the NIH policy for new investigator R01 resubmission deadlines, described in NOT-OD-11-057.

Background and details on the new resubmission policy are in NIH Guide NOT-OD-14-074 and a blog post by NIH’s Sally Rockey.

8 comments on “Change in NIH Application Resubmission Policy

  1. This new policy has good and bad points. The good is that if a PI’s A1 is not funded, they don’t have to abandon what may be a long-standing research project for which they have potentially unique expertise. The bad is that now an A1, which for a last few years was considered the “last resort” for a project, will now be more likely to be kicked down the road because of competition with A0′s. This may cause more drawn out funding starvation of PI’s than exists already. There are no truly good solutions when the funding levels are so low, but what about re-instituting A2′s, but only if the A1 is above a certain cutoff score? This way, an A2 (with an introduction) will still stand out in relation to truly new A0 proposals.

  2. With resubmission as an A0 application, would it be possible to request that a specific study section not review the application for Lack of appropriate expertise within the SRG.

    • An applicant can always suggest which study section s/he thinks is (or is not) appropriate. The Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center for Scientific Review will take the request into account, although there may be other factors of which the applicant is unaware that can affect the final assignment. Once the study section assignment is made, the applicant can also contact the scientific review officer to discuss any concerns about the composition of the review panel.

  3. This policy change is disastrous. How does NIH plan to handle the flood of previously rejected A1 applications when study sections are already overburdened and pay lines are plummeting? Also, how will resubmitting a failed A1 without any history of responsiveness to reviewers comments assure that scientific quality and integrity remain high? I suspect this decision was made in response to the frustration of so many PI’s with failed applications. However, wouldn’t it make sense to go back to the old practice of submitting an A2 rather than a new A0, thereby maintaining some continuity to the review process. In my opinion this policy change reflects the gross inequality between study sections and review panels, e.g. resubmit a failed application many times and it will likely find someone who likes it. A better alternative would be to overhaul the review process to ensure better equality across study sections and/or streamline the review process, adding another cycle per calendar year, which would provide more opportunities for PI’s to turn around failed applications (through an A2 mechanism).

    • I AGREE, THE STUDY SECTIONS ARE GOING TO BE OVERWHELMED AND SUCCESS RATES ARE GOING TO FALL TO 3% DEMORALIZING EVERYONE.

      THOUSANDS OF FAILED A1S ARE GOING TO BE RESUBMITTED IN THE NEXT 2-3 CYCLES.

      HOW COULD NIH NOT HAVE CONSIDERED THIS???

      ONLY GRANTS THAT MISSED BY 20% SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE RESUBMITTED OR JUST GO BACK TO ALLOWING A2s

  4. This is an improvement but it is still half-wedded to the notion of revised applications and giving points for addressing reviewers’ comments. The NIH should take a page from the NSF system and switch to a policy whereby every grant is viewed as a new application. It shouldn’t matter how well or how obsequiously the applicant addressed the comments of the previous study section; each grant should be judged on its merits. I seriously doubt that there will be such an avalanche of repeated submissions, plus the triage system helps to lessen the burden at study section since those repeated submissions (you can spot them anyway) that are doomed from the start won’t take up discussion time. To take care of renewals while also dealing somewhat with double-dipping (applying for overlapping grants), there should be a section on “results from prior NIH support” where the PI can either report on results from the previous funding period and/or results from other NIH grants. This will provide the study section with information on how well the applicant previously utilized NIH funds, whether it was for the same project or a different one.

  5. Does this new policy apply to all NIH applications or is it restricted to the R series? I am particularly interested if it applies to F32 applications.

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