NINDS R13/U13 Guidelines

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A conference grant application is required to include a letter from the NINDS Referral Office (contact information listed at the end of this page) 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. Please see the steps below for more information.  Applications should be submitted at least 6 months before the proposed conference is scheduled to be held.

NINDS R13/U13 Purpose

The NINDS R13/U13 (PA-24-151) program supports high quality scientific conferences that are relevant to the NINDS mission and to the public health. 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).  


R13/U13 Application Due Dates

The application due dates for the R13/U13 are April 12, August 12, December 12. 

Request to Submit Date Receipt Date Approximate Review Date Council Date Conference Meeting Date
March 1 April 12 June/July October November through February
July 1 August 12 October/November January March through June
October 31 December 12 February/March May July through October


NINDS R13/U13 Pre-Submission Approval

Permission to submit a conference grant application must be requested from the NINDS R13 coordinator at least six weeks before the application due date (see table above). Typically, a NINDS decision on willingness to accept primary or secondary assignment for a R13 conference grant can be expected within two weeks of submission of the Request-to-Submit letter. At time of application submission, the signed Permission-to-Submit letter from the NINDS must be attached to the cover letter of the R13 application, which should also identify all NIH ICs that may have interest in providing co-funding support.

Step 1: Prepare the following information

  • The name of the meeting.
  • The name, address, and email of the Principal Investigator.
  • The name of the sponsoring institution (foreign institutions are not eligible to apply for conference support).
  • The location and dates of the meeting. 
  • A short description of the purpose of the meeting and its relevance to the mission of the NINDS.
  • A preliminary draft agenda of the program, including names and affiliations of invited and/or confirmed speakers.
  • The nature of participation by early-stage investigators, trainees, and diverse perspectives. 
  • A listing of similar recent or upcoming meetings, if any, and the "value-added" by the proposed meeting (optional).
  • The requested conference budget and intended use for funds (please include total budget, portion requested from the NINDS, and portion to be requested from any other NIH components, if applicable). Note: NINDS provides nominal support for conferences, typically between $5,000 and $10,000.  Typically, the NINDS contribution does not exceed $25,000.  Applications receiving funds exceeding $74,999 in total NIH support require special clearances and approvals which may impact timing of the award or award feasibility. For this reason, it is recommended that the total amount of NIH support for any given conference should not exceed $74,999.
  • The intended receipt date for application submission (i.e., April 12, August 12, or December 12).
  • A statement that the NINDS is the sole NIH Institute from which primary assignment is being requested, as well as the identification of other NIH Institutes or Centers (ICs) (if any) that are interested in providing co-funding support for the conference grant application. Note: Potential applicants to another NIH Institute or Center who are interested in the NINDS being a secondary assignment should make such requests in the cover letter of the application.

Step 2: Submit information to NINDS

Step 3: NINDS Review and Determination

  • Typically, an NINDS decision on willingness to accept primary or secondary assignment for a R13 conference grant can be expected within two weeks of submission of the Request-to-Submit letter.

    At time of application submission, the signed Permission-to-Submit letter from the NINDS must be attached to the cover letter of the R13 application, which should also identify all NIH ICs that may have interest in providing co-funding support.


NINDS R13/U13 Considerations

NINDS R13 Additional Considerations

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 NOFO now requires that applicants submit a “Diversity Plan” to demonstrate that there is compliance with NIH grants policy on inclusion of underrepresented groups, such as individuals from nationally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women at all NIH-supported conferences.  NINDS will carefully evaluate this plan for all applications.  All applicants must describe clearly and specifically the involvement of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women 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 Diversity Plan are provided in the “NINDS Guidance for R13 Submissions: Diversity Plan” section below.

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.

NINDS R13 Diversity Plan

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 enhancing diversity and creating safe environments 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 funding announcement, the R13 application must include a Diversity Plan that must specifically describe plans to enhance diversity by increasing the participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups (e.g., underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women) in the selection of and/or the makeup:

  • Organizing committee
  • Speakers
  • Invited participants (e.g., session chairs, panel discussants, etc.)
  • Audience

Applicants should also consider the geographical conference area from where anticipated participants will come (i.e., national, statewide), the expected size and composition of the audience, and the method of selection in describing efforts under the Diversity Plan and how these efforts will be assessed afterwards. When applicable, applicants should describe the success of previous strategies to enhance diversity in the planning and implementation of conferences as well. Diversity Plans will be assessed during the scientific and technical merit review of the application. Please note that the Diversity Plan must not exceed one-page in length. Applications that do not include a Diversity Plan will not be accepted for review. The NINDS will actively enforce this language to ensure that Diversity Plans are adequately addressed in each application.

The following suggestions may provide helpful information for R13 applicants on effective ways to design an appropriate conference plan to enhance diversity and inclusion:

  • 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 participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from 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.

If you have questions or require additional guidance regarding the Diversity Plan, please contact NINDS OPEN Program Director, Dr. Marguerite Matthews ( 

Resources for Reaching out to Underrepresented Groups

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.

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.

NINDS R13 Safety Plan

  • Safety Plan (to be submitted as Just-in-Time materials)
    • Effective with the April 12, 2022 application due date, a Plan to Promote Safe Environments is required as part of Just-In-Time materials should the application be recommended for funding (NOT-OD-22-074). 
    • At a minimum, “safety plans” are required to include the following elements:
      • Statement of commitment to provide a safe environment
      • Expectations of behavior including list of behaviors considered harassing (specific emphasis on harassment, sexual, racial, ethnic, or otherwise)
      • Instructions on how to confidentially report alleged violations of the expectations of behavior to conference organizers
      • Description of how the organizers will assess allegations and the consequences for those who are found to violate the expectations of behavior
      • Information explaining that individuals who have questions, concerns or complaints related to harassment are also encouraged to contact the conference organizer or the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
      • Information about how to file a complaint with HHS OCR (see OCR’s webpage, Filing a Civil Rights Complaint)
      • Information explaining that filing a complaint with the conference organizer is not required before filing a complaint of discrimination with HHS OCR, and that seeking assistance from the conference organizer in no way prohibits filing complaints with HHS OCR
      • Information explaining how individuals can notify NIH about concerns of harassment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and other forms of inappropriate conduct at NIH-supported conferences (see NIH’s Find Help webpage)
    • Along with the safety plan to be shared with attendees, R13/U13 applicants recommended for funding must also provide to NIH as part of Just-in-Time materials:
      • describe the strategy that will be used to communicate the Safety Plan to conference attendees and a plan to document allegations and resulting actions.
      • provide information on the steps the organizers will take to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all attendees, free from discrimination and harassment

NINDS U13 Additional Considerations

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.


Related Resources


NINDS R13 Coordinator: Alisa Schaefer, Ph.D.

Want to contact NINDS staff?
Please visit our Find Your NINDS Program Director page to learn more about contacting Program Directors, Grants Management Specialists, Scientific Review Officers, and Health Program Specialists.