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Research Grants FAQ's

Please contact NIHCM if you have entry-specific questions or technical problems when using the online entry system. We can be reached from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET.


Why is NIHCM making this research support available?

NIHCM Foundation wishes to support innovative investigator-initiated health services research that will advance the existing knowledge base in the areas of health care financing, delivery, management and/or policy. Studies must have strong potential to yield insights that can be used to have a positive impact on the U.S. health care system by improving efficiency, quality, access to care or equity. Studies involving direct patient care or clinical, bench-science research are not relevant for this solicitation.


How much support will be available?

NIHCM is making a total of $1 million available for the combined 2021-2022 funding cycles for our research and journalism grant programs. Funding will be allocated across the two programs according to the merits of the proposals received. In all awards, we will be assessing the efficiency of the proposed budget relative to expected impact and project scope. Awards made in prior years have been highly competitive on price and this focus will continue.


Who may apply for these grants?

We welcome applications from individual researchers as well as from all types of organizations and institutions, including both non-profit and for-profit entities. Multiple organizations may apply jointly, but one must be named as the principal organization and others will have a subcontract relationship with that organization. There is no limit on the number of project ideas that may be submitted by a given researcher, organization or academic department.


What timeframe is expected for the funded studies?

Applications will be judged on their potential to produce timely results. Projects that can be completed within one year are preferred, but studies requiring a longer timeframe may be proposed. Applicants with longer-term studies should consider the feasibility of organizing their work so as to yield interim findings and products that will maximize study impact. Projects would normally begin in January 2022 unless there is a reason to delay the start (e.g., availability of data or key personnel). We understand that an extensive period of peer review and revisions is expected prior to final publication in academic journals. Submission of grant manuscripts to journals to initiate this peer review process is sufficient to mark the end of the grant’s active performance period.


What is the application process and timeline?

The awards will be made using the following process:

  • All interested researchers are required to submit an initial letter of inquiry (LOI) for each of their proposed studies by 5:00 PM EDT on June 30, 2021. Applications are welcome at any time prior to that deadline. LOIs must be submitted using NIHCM's online entry system and must conform to the required structure.
  • Full (10-page) proposals will be invited from a small number of applicants in August and will be due in September 2021. Other applicants will also be notified in August regarding the status of their LOI submissions.
  • NIHCM will notify grant winners in December 2021, for project start dates as early as January 2022.

How do I submit a letter of inquiry (LOI)? What information must be included?

Letters of inquiry must be submitted via NIHCM’s online entry system by 5:00 PM EDT on June 30, 2021. In addition to entering basic information about the Principal Investigator and the project, you will also upload a pdf narrative summary of your study.

Narrative summaries are limited to no more than 1000 words and must present information using the required structure.

You may complete your submission in stages, if needed. The Submission Dashboard of the online entry system will show the status as "Draft" until you complete your submission.


What happens after an LOI is submitted?

After you submit the LOI, the status on your Submission Dashboard will change from "Draft" to "Submitted." A confirmation email will also be sent to the Principal Investigator stating that the LOI has been submitted. If you submit a draft in error or find that you need to revise the LOI after it has been submitted (but before the entry deadline of June 30, 2021), please contact NIHCM at 202-296-4426 or nihcm@nihcm.org as soon as possible.

NIHCM staff will review your LOI submission to ensure that all necessary elements are present and legible. If any problems are identified, someone from NIHCM will contact you to resolve the issue. If the submission is complete, the LOI status on the dashboard will be changed to "Accepted."


What criteria will be used to select the winning studies?

Full proposals will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Significance – Are the research questions or study objectives proposed by the project important and significant?
  • Expected Impact – Is the study likely to produce findings or products that will advance knowledge and have a positive impact on the health care system or policy? Will study findings be disseminated to relevant target audiences in ways that can maximize study impact?
  • Timeliness – Will the study be completed in a timeframe that enables it to have sufficient impact? Is the proposed timeline realistic and feasible?
  • Research Design – Are the proposed methods sound and appropriate to the stated research questions/study objectives? Are the requisite data available, or can they be obtained within the study timeframe and budget? How will the research team deal with anticipated challenges in carrying out the study plan?
  • Budget – Is the level of resources requested commensurate with the anticipated project impact and consistent with the proposed project scope? Does the budget adhere to the funding restrictions? Is the budget request justified in sufficient detail to permit reviewers to understand the derivation of the proposed costs and relate them to the work required to complete the study?
  • Qualifications of Key Personnel – Do the key personnel have the necessary training and prior research experience to complete this study successfully?

What types of expenses are permitted in the project budget?

Allowable direct costs include salaries and fringe benefits for project personnel and the direct costs of data, supplies, other incidental expenses and any subcontracts required to conduct the project. Domestic travel for the purpose of sharing results with policymakers and researchers at professional conferences and other venues is a permissible expense. Costs for items such as rent, utilities and other costs of doing business must be included as part of overhead and not billed separately as a direct cost. Indirect costs (overhead) are limited to 12 percent of the budget, excluding any subcontracts. Your expected overhead charges (up to the 12 percent limit) should be included in the anticipated budget figure that you provide as part of the initial letter of inquiry. NIHCM will not cover expenditures for patient care, case management services, capital purchases including computers, international travel or lobbying. Additionally, NIHCM will not accept a budget that includes an additional “fee” beyond the labor expenses, other direct costs and overhead.


May I speak with anyone from NIHCM about these grants?

For questions related to this initiative, please contact Julie Schoenman at jschoenman@nihcm.org using "RESEARCH GRANT QUESTION" in the subject line.