Research applications are reviewed either by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) or one of the NIH Institutes or Centers (ICs) specified in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA). You may request assignment to a particular study section; however, while NIH staff consider all requests, in some cases the reviewing IC is predetermined and requests cannot be honored.
To get the most accurate information about the review of your application—including if it will be reviewed by CSR or an IC—refer to “Section V. Application Review Information” of the specific FOA to which you are submitting. If the peer review contact is at one of the ICs, the review will be held there; if the peer review contact is at CSR (or no contact is listed) the review is likely being held at CSR.
You are also strongly encouraged to:
- Talk with the scientific/research contact listed in “Section VII. Agency Contacts” to learn more about the FOA itself or the type of research the IC is interested in supporting.
- Reach out to the peer review contact listed in “Section VII. Agency Contacts” with questions about the review or your application’s assignment.
Once an application is assigned to a study section (sometimes called a review committee or a Scientific Review Group—SRG), the review process is organized and overseen by a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) to ensure it is fair and unbiased.
Center for Scientific Review Study Sections
About 70% of research applications are reviewed by CSR study sections, which are organized by scientific discipline or research area. CSR reviews most investigator-initiated research project grant (many R and U), fellowship (F), and small business (SBIR/STTR) applications; however, always check Sections V. and VII. (“Application Review Information” and “Agency Contacts,” respectively) of the specific FOA to which you are submitting.
- If your application will be reviewed at CSR, you can search by topic or keyword to find the most appropriate study section. You can also use CSR’s guided study section selector, the Assisted Referral Tool, which recommends CSR study sections based on the text of your application.
NIH Institute and Center Study Sections
NIH ICs review applications specific to their missions and needs. Typically, these include program project (P), institutional training award (T), and career development award (K) applications, as well those submitted in response to IC-initiated Requests for Applications (RFAs). The review location of these applications is predetermined, so always check Sections V. and VII. (“Application Review Information” and “Agency Contacts,” respectively) of the specific FOA to which you are submitting.
- ICs may have both standing (or “chartered”) study sections for their ongoing research programs and/or Special Emphasis Panels (SEPs) organized on an ad hoc basis to review applications for a specific FOA or that require special expertise.
- Visit an IC’s website to learn more about its scientific mission and the research it is prioritizing.