NIH funding opportunities at EPFL

© 2024 EPFL

© 2024 EPFL

Most NIH funding programs are open to international investigators. Read on to find out how to apply and maximize your chances of success.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, and supports biomedical and public health research projects performed by one or several beneficiaries in the United States or abroad. EPFL researchers are eligible to apply for funding under the vast majority of NIH programs.

The first step towards applying will be to decide whether you will propose a solo project or whether you will pair with a U.S.-based colleague to submit a collaborative project. Note that the latter will increase your chances of success and reduce administrative burden, especially if this is your first experience with NIH.

  • If you decide to apply for a collaborative project, let your U.S.-based partner know that EPFL has all required registrations to participate and then let them lead the way. They will have a lot of expertise in the application process and in issuing foreign subawards. The Research Office will also be there to help! One last point: be aware of the data sharing obligations of foreign sub-awardees.
  • If you would like to search for new U.S.-based partners or get an idea of what kind of research is currently funded by NIH, you can refer to the RePORTER tool and search by NIH institute, investigator, or research topic.

If you decide to apply solo, the next step will be to determine the funding opportunity best suited to your project. It is important to note that the NIH functions not one entity, but rather as 27 distinct institutes and centers, each with a special biomedical focus, such as cancer or mental health. Identifying the institute or center that is best aligned with your research program is a crucial step. Next, consider that each institute and center supports both bottom up research (for example, R01 or R21) as well as issuing its own top-down calls; as an example, you can refer to the list of currently open topic-specific calls from the National Institute on Aging. You can also find a more global list of open NIH calls on their grant funding search engine.

Once you have identified an institute and found a call that suits your research interests, the next step we recommend is reaching out to the program official (PO) covering your specific area. Each PO has a portfolio on the NIH webpage listing his/her scientific expertise, which can help you align your proposal with the program’s objectives. Further to gaining insights into the momentary funding priorities of the program, this contact will also put your name on the radar of the PO. How can you reach out? Each call mentions the Scientific or Research Contact(s), and each institute or center usually provides a full list of programs and corresponding POs; see this list provided by the National Cancer Institute as an example.

When you are ready to write your proposal, make use of the resources in the EPFL NIH toolkit, and let the Research Office help you create an ERA commons account and guide you through the ASSIST submission platform.

Do you have other questions, or just want more basic guidance? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Research Office.