The R13 grant is a Research Conference Grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that finances high-level scientific conferences, in the form of symposiums, meetings, seminars, workshops, etc. that are compatible with the NIH’s mission and the general public.

The R15 grant is NIH’s Research Enhancement Award that promotes research at educational institutions that train researchers and scientists but have not been major recipients of NIH support. This grant provides funding for small-scale, new, or ongoing research projects, encouraging institutional research, and opening realms of new research and development for students. There are two programs administered under the R15 activity code:

  • Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP) for Health Professional Schools and Graduate Schools, i.e., PAR-19-134 – REAP, Clinical Trial Not Allowed & PAR-19-135 – REAP, Clinical Trial Required.
  • Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) for Undergraduate-Focused institutions, i.e., PAR-18-714 – AREA, Clinical Trial Not Allowed & PAR-19-133 – AREA, Clinical Trial Required.

Despite being important, there is a lack of guidance for R13 & R15 grant applications. Henceforth, this article will help you in knowing these grants in detail and show you how to get one.


When Are They Announced?
  • Standard application due dates for R13 grant are: April 12, August 12 & December 12
  • AIDS-related research: May 7, September 7 & January 7
  • Standard application due dates for R15 are: February 25, June 25 & October 25
  • AIDS-related application: May 7, September 7 & January 7
Steps for Applying

The basic steps to follow while applying for R13 grant application are as follows:

  • The researchers, especially junior faculty, who are considering applying for conference grants confirm that they have genuine departmental support for a planned conference prior to submitting an R13 application.
  • Since the support of conference grants depends on priorities at individual Institutes or Centers, applicants must obtain a letter of permission to submit a conference grant application from a specific contact person. The NIH staff member accepting this permission should be the assigned contact. Consult with these contacts individually because each institute of NIH has its own regulations regarding maximum funding for conference grants (Jeffrey, Elisa, Lynda & Daniel, 2009).
  • Read theSF424 Application Manual.
  • Request an Application Package by downloading the online SF424 (R&R) application folder kit related with your specific funding opportunity announcement (FOA) using the ‘Apply for Grant Electronically’ button or following the guidance provided at gov.


For R15 Grant Application Basic steps to follow while applying for R13 grant application are:

  • Read the SF424 Application Manual carefully.
    You can use the RePORTwebsite to determine eligibility. Also, an eligibility decision tree is provided by the NIH to help you make a perfect fit for the R15 grant application.
  • An institution letter should accompany your application that confirms eligibility for the grant.
    Download the online SF424 (R&R) application pack given in your specific FOA.

Fill and submit the application online by methods mentioned in your FOA online.

Requirements for Grant Application

The key to a successful proposal is flow among all of its sections. Following sections must be included in your R13 Grant application:

Abstract: The abstract should be brief, highlighting the key features of your proposed conference. By the end of the abstract, the reader should know the answer to three questions;

  • Why is a conference required?
  • What are the specific aims of the conference?
  • How will the specific aims be met?

Specific Aims: 1 page is to be given to the specific aims section. It is fundamentally important since it articulates the key research questions or hypotheses to be evaluated in the research project. Every research grant proposal has unique specific aims. The specific aims should drive the format and content of the entire conference. However, since the generic goals of conferences are similar, the specific aims of conference grant proposals do not differ from each other as much as the specific aims sections of research grant proposals. The best way to make the specific aims more precise is to ensure that they flow directly from the justification for those aims in the background and significance section.
Conference Plan: This section is written in place of the ‘research strategy’ section of a basic research application and should not exceed 6 pages. It should outline the aims, specific research program, and arrangements for the conference and identify relevant meetings held during the past 3 years and express how the suggested conference is similar to or different from them. It should elaborate methods for associating the correct representation of every participating person in the design and application of the suggested conference.
Budget section: It must include a comprehensive clear-cut budget proposal. The facilities and administrative costs are not to be included. The applicants should refer to the IC about any budget specifications and project period requisites.
Appendix: It is only written if especially needed by the FOA; otherwise, do not write it.
Permit letter: Attach your application permit letter along with your application. All applicants must include the advance permission letter from the NIH staff member who has acknowledged the submission of your application. Your permission letter for application submission should include:
Suggested title, date, and location of the meeting
A concise overview of the scientific topics of the meeting
Organizing the committee member names
Timetable with a list of invited speakers
A statement confirming the potential for access to the meeting by the scientific community at large
The budget proposal suggested all the details and other possible sources of finance

Requirements for your R15 Grant application are:


An institution letter: A letter verifying eligibility with the criteria listed in the funding opportunity announcement should be attached to the application.

Abstract Summary: An accurate but short summary of our research from aims & methods to results with the conclusion should be included in it. It should be easily comprehensible by any layperson.

Specific aims: By occupying 1-page, enlist with short detail, the specific objectives of your research leading to the specific hypothesis and what impact will they have on science.

Research Strategy: It should be comprised of 12 pages maximum. Subheadings of this section are:

Significance (3/4 page): Mention the importance of your research in science and public healthcare.

Innovation (1/2 or 3/4 page): Describe the novel features of our research proposal.

Approach (10 pages): Justify your aims & their feasibility by evaluating background literature already present about your research suggested. Present your preliminary data effectively via charts or tables. Elaborate your research designs and the expected outcomes. Highlight the possible limitations and pitfalls in your method and suggest solutions if present.

Preliminary Data: It should be mentioned to show that all tools and reagents are readily available so that reviewers know not only that your objectives and research goals are feasible, but also that you have the perfect tools for the job and you can achieve your goals in the given time frame.

Resource page: Describe the environment saying that it can feasibly complete the research, and the students will enhance their learning and contribute to that environment. Include your institutional pledge here as well.

Bio-sketches: Attach your Personal Statement, which should focus on the AREA specific goals, as well as why are you a suitable candidate to be the PI, especially in training the students.

Cover Letter: Here, enlist all the institutes and review groups that could probably review your application and give you the most positive answer. You can choose three institutions and groups. Once, research showed that the result of the grant review relied more on the reviewer to whom the application was allotted than the research suggested in the application (Elizabeth et al., 2018).

Budget: The budget of the project is confined to 3 years, while the direct costs are confined to $300,000 for the entire project duration. R15 grants are funded for multiple years, and the entire budget for all 3 years is to be demanded in the first budget year. In short, the modular Budget policy of NIH applies here.

Pros & Cons of R13 Grant Awards
Advantages of R13 Grant award are:
  • It helps a researcher’s career by giving him the opportunity to identify important needs in a field via clarifying a defined subject, problem, or area of knowledge.
  • Conferences can accelerate the pace of research progress by promoting the distribution of the latest research findings to investigators.
  • It enhances the professional socialization of novice researchers and helps interact with a wide range of speakers and participants
Disadvantages of R13 Grant award are:

NIH conference grants do not permit facilities and administrative charges (indirect costs) so a substantial amount of work by the sponsoring institution’s clerical and administrative staff will not be reimbursed.
Producing a conference and editing conference proceedings may not be valued by committees on promotion and tenure at all universities.
A single individual is not eligible for the R13 grant award.
Pros & Cons of R15 Grant Awards

Advantages of R15 Grant award are:
  • Exposes students to research.
  • Strengthens the research setting of the institution.
  • Awards can be renewed by contesting for an extra project period.
  • Encourage talented investigators in sharing their knowledge and innovation with students through hands-on experiences.
  • Individuals are still called as ‘new investigators’ that have performed as PI on an Academic R15 Research Enhancement Award (Michael, Teresa & Theodore, 2008).
  • Disadvantages of the R15 Grant award are:
  • Highly competitive peer-review process.
  • Requires high-level expertise for success.
  • Less time for students who are having their first time exposure in the biomedical research field.

Conferences are an important means to promote and spread the NIH scientific mission. It is a way to project new findings and share updates.

If you are a potential grantee, you should first review successful R13 applications before starting to write your own. Successful grant proposals can be obtained from principal investigators, though they can also be requested by submitting an application to the NIH Freedom of Information Act Office.

The R15 grant award is very competitive, but it is for a good reason. It encourages students to pursue biomedical research and subsequently become accomplished investigators themselves.



King, D, King, L., Sonis, J.H. & Triffleman, E. (2009, May). How to Write an NIH R13 Conference Grant Application. Acad Psychiatry 33(3), 256­­–60.
Brauer, M., Carnes, M., Filut, A., Fordes, C.E., Kaatz, A., Nathan, M.J.,… Raclaw, J. (2018, March 20). Low Agreement Among Reviewers Evaluating The Same NIH Grant Applications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(12), 2952–2957.
Kotchen, T.A., Lindquist, T. & Martin, M.R. (2008, July). Why Are Peer Review Outcomes Less Favorable For Clinical Science Than For Basic Science Grant Applications? The American Journal of Medicine, 121(7), 637–641.