National Institutes of Health
How to apply for funding
The preferred option for submitting applications to NIH is via the ASSIST portal. The ASSIST web-based system is used to prepare, submit and track your application online. Please refer to the step by step guide below for how to initiate the application process at Oxford.
Queries about accessing or using ASSIST should be directed to the eRA service desk
All NIH applications should reach Research Services 10 working days before the deadline to allow for checking and institutional approval. Research Services will submit the application on behalf of the PI.
Please note applications cannot be submitted after 5pm regardless of the deadline set by the funder.
ASSIST online system
Anyone intending to submit an application to the NIH will first require an eRA Commons user account, as these account details are used to access the ASSIST portal.
Administrators who wish to provide online support to an application that is being submitted using the ASSIST web-based system will also need an eRA Commons Assistant (ASST) admin role account to allow the PI to delegate user access to the application.
Please contact Julia Haynes to request the creation of an eRA Commons user account. Please supply the following information:
- full name
- email address for notifications
Once a user account has been created the PI will receive two emails from the eRA Commons system with their username and a temporary password. The PI should then logon to eRA Commons and change the password.
Note: The PI may also use their eRA Commons account to view any errors/warnings associated with their application once it has been validated and before final submission, and to check scores assigned to applications already submitted.
ASSIST is available for all single and multi-project, competing grant applications. All users must have eRA Commons accounts.
User access maintenance: ASSIST does not automatically assign access maintenance rights to the PI upon creation of the application within ASSIST. The PI will need to contact their divisional Research Services team to request user access maintenance rights for the application. Please provide Research Services with the six figure ASSIST application reference. Research Services will notify the PI once user access maintenance rights have been granted. The PI must click ‘manage access’ in the left hand actions menu of the application to allocate ‘budget’, ‘non-budget’ or ‘all’ access rights to other co-applicants or departmental administrators working on the application.
Status maintenance: Status maintenance rights are assigned automatically to the PI to allow the PI to change the status of the application to ‘ready for submission’ once the application is complete. This then allows Research Services to submit the application to NIH once departmental and institutional approvals are in place. Once the PI has been granted user access maintenance rights for the application by Research Services the PI may then delegate status maintenance rights to other users to allow them to change the status to ‘ready for submission’.
Help on how to ‘add access for a new user’ and assign status maintenance rights to other users is found under ASSIST essentials/manage access in the ASSIST online help.
The PI must inform the department when the application is complete and ready for approval. If the departmental approver does not have access to ASSIST the PI must pass a copy of the completed application to their department for approval. Once the department has approved the application the department will send notification of the ASSIST application number to Research Services to confirm that the application is ready for review and submission.
The PI must then update the submission status to ‘ready for submission’, allowing Research Services to review and submit the application.
All NIH applications should reach Research Services 10 working days before the deadline.
Learn more about ASSIST
Tip: When using some browsers to directly log into ASSIST (eg Firefox) you may get a ‘password not recognised’ error message. A work-around is to open a new tab and log in to ERA Commons. Once you have logged in to eRA Commons, go back to the original log in page and when you click on the ASSIST log in button in the right of the screen you will be logged in to ASSIST automatically.
Research Services will validate the application and submit to NIH.
The information is passed from ASSIST to the Grants.gov system for further processing. In ASSIST, the application is updated to a status of submitted. In addition, ASSIST sends notification to the appropriate parties to inform them that the application has been submitted. This includes the PI and Research Services.
When an application is submitted, the offering agency performs certain validations against the application. If the validation has not been successful and if errors exist, the application is put into a status of 'submission errors'. The PI can view these errors in ASSIST and make corrections before re-submitting the application to the agency. Errors must be corrected before the application can be re-submitted to the agency. Applications can be submitted when warnings exist, but those warnings should be reviewed and considered.
If the application needs to be amended the submission process has to be repeated (ie PI amends the application, notifies the department and Research Services and then changes the status of the application within ASSIST to ‘ready for submission’ for submission by Research Services).
Please note that Research Services cannot submit applications after 5pm regardless of the deadline set by the funder.
For further information see the application submission section of the ASSIST online help.
The application may be tracked through ASSIST.
After submitting an application, ASSIST users may view the status details of the application.
Search for the application within ASSIST and click on the status link ‘view submission status details’.
Tip: When an error-free application is received at NIH the processing status should be displayed as follows:
ASSIST = Submitted
Grants.gov = Agency Tracking Number Assigned
Agency = Processed
Following the hyperlinked agency tracking number in the agency section of the screen brings the PI to the eRA Commons detailed status screen from which they can view the assembled e-application image and associated documents for the submission.