The decision to fund or not to fund a particular application is based on the assessment of scientific merit by a peer review group and on the relevance of the proposed work to the Institute’s scientific and health priorities.

Scientific Merit

Peer reviewers’ judgments of scientific merit are expressed in priority scores and in percentile rankings derived from these priority scores. The percentile through which applications will be paid in order is what is referred to as the Institute's payline.

Relevance to Institute Priorities

Applications that address subjects of relevance to the Institute’s scientific and health priorities may be considered for awards even if their assigned scores and percentile rankings would not qualify for funding under the current payline. Projects to be funded on this basis, which is called “select pay,” are selected by the institute, following staff discussion. Investigators may not request or apply for select pay funding.  See the NIAMS Funding Plan for more information.

Rarely, NIAMS receives an application that is within the Institute’s payline, but is deemed to be of low program priority. An application can be considered low priority for many reasons, including (but not limited to) redundancy with other projects, concerns about the ultimate relevance of the proposed study’s results, or a lack of scientific premise.

NIAMS Research Priority Resources

The NIAMS Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2020-2024 provides a broad outline of opportunities and needs related to the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, prevention of diseases within the Institute's mission areas. Members of both the scientific and lay communities interested in NIAMS’ programs provided extensive input as the plan was developed. The 2025-2029 NIAMS Strategic Plan is currently in development and will reflect similar engagement with the community. 

Institute funding priorities reflect highly meritorious research as determined by the peer review process, public health needs, scientific opportunities, and Congressional and Administration mandates, among other factors. For grants, the principal public expressions of Institute priorities are Requests for Applications (RFAs), Notices of Special Interest (NOSI) or Notices of Information (NOT), as published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Applications received in response to an RFA generally compete only with other applications received in response to the RFA.

Applications received in response to other announcements compete with all other scored applications assigned to the Institute. However, applications that are responsive to Institute Priorities as published in the NIH Guide or the NIAMS Strategic Plan are candidates for select pay, as described above. Investigators may not request or apply for select pay consideration.

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