Determining Eligiblity for NINDS Grants

Before you apply for funding, see if and how you and your research may fit in at NIH and NINDS. NIH has awards for scientists at different career levels with different research needs.

  • Your research must fit the NIH and NINDS mission and goals to be considered for funding.
  • Your institution must also qualify for support. 
  • Then you must determine whether you would qualify for independent support or a different kind of award.

Step 1: Fit NIH Mission and Goals

Find out whether NIH supports your research area. It must fall within NIH Mission and Goals to be funded by NIH. NIH seeks fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

Step 2: Fit NINDS Mission and Goals

Once you've established that NIH is the right spot, look for an institute that would be appropriate to your work. For scientists seeking NIH funding, fitting in is complex.

NIH is made up of semiautonomous institutes and centers (sometimes referred to as "ICs"). While their mission areas are well defined, they often overlap. So it is possible that multiple institutes may be suitable for your application. Some may have a stronger interest in your research than others.

The National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) may be a good fit if your application falls within our mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease for all people.

TIP: Use NIH Matchmaker!
​Try NIH Matchmaker: Input your scientific text for an NIH-wide list of similar Institutes, Program Officers, and funded projects. If still unsure, email a Specific Aims page to the Program Officer with the most similar applications for guidance.

Step 3: Make Sure Your Institution Qualifies for Support

NIH typically makes grants to institutions, not directly to individuals. Most types of institutions—including universities, small and large businesses, state and local governments, and foreign institutions—qualify for most research grants.

For most grants, NIH has eligibility requirements for the institution only. (Exceptions include fellowships and career awards.)

When you select a funding opportunity, check the Eligibility Information section of the Notice of Funding Opportunity to confirm that you and/or your institution qualify.

Step 4: Determine if You Qualify for Independent Support

When applying for an independent research grant such as an R01, you'll need demonstrable expertise in a scientific field. For training and career development awards like Fs and Ks, see the eligibility section (Section III. Part 1 - Eligible Applicants) of the NOFO for specific eligibility requirements based on the funding opportunity.

For an independent research grant, reviewers expect you to meet the following criteria:

  • Hold an advanced degree appropriate to the research (in most fields, this means a Ph.D. or M.D.)
  • Have a level of position at which your institution allows employees to apply (often assistant professor or higher)
  • Have a track record or a history of overseeing projects in the field in which you are applying. Reviewers expect you to show that you are ready and able to lead.
  • Work in a research institution that has the resources—equipment and lab space—you will need and that has committed space for the project.

You may want to discuss your qualifications and application plans further with an NIH Program Officer in your area of science. There are several methods for how to find the most relevant NINDS Program Officer on our Find Your Program Officer page.

Step 5: After Evaluating Qualifications

If You’re Ready for Independent Support

If you are an early-stage investigator and plan to apply for your first independent R01 research project or equivalent grant, see our Information for Early-Stage Investigators.

If You’re Not Ready for Independent Support

There are still alternative paths to obtain support and experience:

  • Conduct Research as Part of Another Grant
    • If you are interested in serving as a consultant or collaborator or being part of a multi-project application, see our Assembling a Team information.
    • You can also ask Principal Investigators at your institution to include you as an investigator on their application.
  • Training and Career Awards
    • NINDS supports awards for investigators at different career stages. Visit our Training and Career Development Awards information to learn more and check your qualifications for those awards.


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