R13/U13 Guidelines

To support high quality scientific conferences that are relevant to the NINDS mission and to the public health. 

Program Announcement

Application Due Dates
April 12, August 12, December 12

Additional Information
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 in contact box) 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 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.

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 

NINDS Guidance for R13 Submissions: 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 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.

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


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.


NIH Office of Extramural Research


More Information


Alisa Schaefer, Ph.D.

Related Resources

All About Grants Podcast: Diversity Plans for Conference Applications

Open Mike Blog: Enhancing Diversity at NIH-funded Conferences

NINDS Diversity Resources