R13/U13 Guidelines

The NINDS recognizes the value of supporting scientific meetings that are relevant to its scientific mission and to the public health.  For example, R13 or U13 conference grants can be a critical means of promoting important and sometimes underdeveloped areas of research within the interests and priorities of the NINDS (please see our list of funding announcements for general program areas supported by the NINDS).  A conference grant application is required to include a letter from the NINDS Referral Office (contact information listed below) documenting the willingness of NINDS to accept the application.  Applicants should contact the NINDS at least 6-8 weeks before the deadline for submitting the full-length application, and will be asked to provide a limited amount of standardized information about the conference to assist NINDS staff in deciding whether to accept the application.  Applications should be submitted at least 6 months before the proposed conference is scheduled to be held.  

R13 Conference Grant.  Awards are typically in the range of $10,000 to $25,000 and are intended to provide partial support for the conference.  Some appropriate uses of NINDS R13 funding include supporting the dissemination of the proceedings, web-casting or web-archiving of the meeting, supporting students, minority scientists, persons with disabilities or more junior investigators to attend or participate in the meeting, and other limited activities specific to the interests of the NINDS or NIH.  NINDS generally only accepts R13 applications for a single year of support. However, in exceptional circumstances, NINDS may support multi-year applications that have a demonstrated history of yearly funding success and that meet NINDS mission objectives.  An additional circumstance might be a series of interrelated meetings, each of which is an essential part of achieving a defined overall goal.  In such a case, the applicant should be able to describe each of the meetings in the series in detail in the original grant application.  Applicants should contact program staff in advance if they wish to apply for larger amounts of funding and/or multi-year support.

The NIH R13 FOA requires that applicants submit an “Appropriate Representation Plan” to demonstrate that there is compliance with NIH grants policy on inclusion of Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities at all NIH-supported conferencesNINDS will carefully evaluate this plan for all applications.  All applicants must describe clearly and specifically the involvement of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the planning and implementation of, and participation in, the proposed conference.  Additional information, specific details and resources for R13 applicants on effective ways to design an appropriate conference plan for inclusion are provided in the NINDS Guidance for R13 Submissions: Addressing "Appropriate Representation".

In some cases, several NIH Institutes may have an interest in supporting or co-funding the conference, particularly if the topic spans broad or more basic areas of neuroscience.  Before submitting the application, the applicant is encouraged to contact other NIH Institutes for their interest in supporting the conference. 

U13 Cooperative Conference Grant.  The difference between the R13 and U13 mechanisms is that in the case of the U13, NINDS Program staff will be substantially involved in the planning and/or conduct of the meeting (exceeding the traditional role of the staff member as Program Administrator), assisting the Principal Investigator according to specific Terms and Conditions of the award.  Examples of NINDS Program staff involvement after award include, but are not limited to, development of an agenda, selection of speakers, organization of the conference or workshop, and/or post-meeting publications.  As with the R13 mechanism, the NINDS provides partial support for U13 grants with perhaps additional funds for NINDS-initiated topics/speakers.

NIH Information: Guidelines for Support of Scientific Meetings by NIH (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/r13/index.htm)

Link to PAs and RFAs: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-13-347.html

NINDS Guidance for R13 Submissions: Addressing “Appropriate Representation”

The NINDS recognizes the value of supporting scientific meetings and conferences that are relevant to its scientific mission and to public health. Furthermore, NINDS seeks to promote diversity in all of its programs, including increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in NINDS supported R13 meetings. As science becomes increasingly collaborative, it is imperative that R13 applications recognize the importance of providing networking opportunities and the benefits of engaging scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds.

Indeed, NIH expects that grantees eliminate barriers and provide equal access to the opportunity to participate in NIH supported research, programs, conferences and other activities (NOT-OD-15-152) and follow current guidelines for inclusion in NIH-sponsored conferences (Guidelines for inclusion of women, minorities, and  persons with disabilities in NIH-supported conference grants).

NINDS support for R13 programs is based primarily on the evaluation of scientific merit and Institute-specific program priorities. However, an additional critical component of programmatic concern for NINDS is the quality and extent of diversity engagement in the proposed conference. NINDS expects all conferences it supports to include diverse individuals, early career investigators and appropriate gender representation of both presenters and participants. In addition, organizers are expected to publicize the conference to a wide range of scientifically relevant and interested participants as opposed to supporting closed, invitation only meetings via the R13 mechanism. As stated in the current program announcement: “If appropriate representation is not apparent, no award will be issued until program staff members are assured of concerted recruitment efforts.”  The NINDS will actively enforce this language to ensure that “Appropriate Representation” plans are adequately addressed. Thus, the following suggestions may provide helpful information for R13 applicants on effective ways to design an appropriate conference plan for inclusion.

Applications should include:

  • Clearly and specifically described involvement of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the planning and implementation of, and participation in, the proposed conference. A pro-active plan for increasing the number of underrepresented groups must be included. General statements and non-specific strategies such as “Investigators from all underrepresented groups will be actively recruited to participate and every effort has been made to secure speakers from diverse communities” may not be acceptable without clear action plans for inclusion.
  • Reoccurring conferences must present outcomes from previously approved plans. Information must be included on aggregate information on the distribution of underrepresented groups on each of the following: planning committees, speaker/poster presentations, and attendees.
  • Statements on whether some of the funding will be geared towards the support of travel awards. If so, travel awards specific for individuals who traditionally have been underrepresented in neuroscience are strongly encouraged to align with the NINDS mission to ensure a talented and diverse workforce.
  • Concrete efforts towards providing mentorship experiences to underrepresented groups to enhance the networking potential of the meeting. An example would be to allow for networking sessions where underrepresented groups or early career investigators meet with more established scientists. Successful conferences have had sessions such as “Women in (field) Luncheons”, Poster sessions for junior trainees and Mentoring Matches, among others.
  • Specifics on groups, associations, schools, among others, that will be contacted to expand attendee participation and to look for potential guests and speakers. 


The following is a sample list of organizations/contacts that are great resources for reaching out to underrepresented groups. This list is not intended to be a definitive one. Applicants are encouraged to reach out to field or disease-specific groups as well.

U.S. Department of Education List of Postsecondary Institutions Enrolling Populations with Significant Percentages of Minority Students
This link provides the complete list of minority-serving institutions that could be used to recruit students and faculty, and to promote the conference at multiple institutions.

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
Contact: info@sacnas.org
Great resource to reach out to Hispanic and Native American scientists across all career stages and to promote the conference.

Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
Contact: awis@awis.org
Great resource to recruit female scientists across all career stages and to promote the conference.

Anneslist: highlighting female systems neuroscientists
Contact: Anne Churchland, churchland@cshl.edu
This is a great resource to recruit female scientists in the field of Systems Neuroscience. The site groups female scientists by subject area and/or seniority.

Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)
Contact: abrcms@asmusa.org  
This is an organization for underrepresented minority students, military veterans and persons with disabilities in STEM fields. Great tool for recruitment and promotion for the conference.

FASEB Society Resources to Enhance Diversity in Science
Contact: info@faseb.org
This webpage features programs, activities, and resources developed by FASEB's member societies designed to increase the overall participation of racial and ethnic groups which are currently underrepresented in science.

Council of Graduate Schools Inclusiveness Initiatives – includes multiple projects and reports
Contact: general_inquiries@cgs.nche.edu
This list features a list of inclusiveness initiatives carried out by the Council of Graduate Schools. These are good resources that could be used for recruiting and promoting the conference.

AAAS projects on diversity See especially:

  • MySciNet – “a place for scientists and students from diverse backgrounds to network and build the personal and professional connections needed to succeed in the sciences.”  
  • AAAS Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacityseeks to reinforce those bonds. As a human resource development consulting service, it provides institutions of higher education with assistance in achieving their educational mission in STEM fields.

Society for Neuroscience, Neuroscience Scholars Program
Contact: profdev@sfn.com
The Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP) is a multi-year program designed to enhance career development and professional networking opportunities for underrepresented and diverse graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the field of neuroscience. This is a good resource for recruitment of speakers, participants, and attendees.

BRAINS: Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience
Contact: joyceyen@uw.edu
This program is designed to accelerate and improve the career advancement of neuroscience postdoctoral scholars and assistant professors from underrepresented groups. This is a good resource for recruitment of speakers, participants and attendees, and promotion of the conference.

The Leadership Alliance
Contact: medeva_ghee@brown.edu
The Leadership Alliance is a national consortium of more than 30 leading research and teaching colleges, universities, and private industry. Great tool for recruitment of underrepresented students and they have a wide Doctoral Scholars network, composed of program alumni.

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
Contact: hacu@hacu.net 
This link provides information on all the Hispanic-serving Institutions, associate members and partner members in the US. Good resource for advertising the conference or finding institutions to advertise in and recruit.

Contact: Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, contact@cienciapr.org  
An organization of Puerto Rican students and scientist with a large network of members and collaborators. Good resource to recruit and advertise the conference.

Minority Postdoc
Contact: Alberto Roca, info@minoritypostdoc.org 
This is a substantial network of postdoctoral scholars and faculty members from underrepresented groups.

NIH National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN)
Contact: Damaris Javier, mnc@nrmnet.net
The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is a nationwide consortium of biomedical professionals and institutions collaborating to provide enhanced networking and mentorship experiences in support of the training and career development of individuals from groups identified by the NIH as under-represented.

Conduct outreach efforts by linking to programs designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Examples include:

  • University of Washington-led Access STEM Project, which is one of the Regional Alliances for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics funded by the National Science Foundation
  • Institute for Accessible Science (IAS), an online site supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, for developing and sharing knowledge and tools for accessible science. The site includes links (via "Get Connected") to programs that promote STEM training and careers for individuals with disabilities.

NIH Office of Extramural Research
Frequently Asked Questions: Conference Grants (R13)