Common Questions and Answers: NIOSH Funding Announcements

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The following common questions and answers (Q&A) pertain to published funding announcements from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH funding opportunities are also posted on Grants.govexternal icon, which is the single access point for over 1,000 grant programs offered by 26 Federal grant-making agencies. We categorized this webpage to answer general questions about NIOSH funding opportunities as well as specifics about current funding opportunities.

Please review this page for more information to help you when applying for a NIOSH grant or cooperative agreement.

Does CDC/NIOSH have different budget limitations from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)?
Yes, CDC/NIOSH policy differs from NIH policy. For investigator-initiated research grants (R01, R03, R21, and K01), direct costs include Consortium Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs.

When are awards typically made for investigator-initiated research applications that are scored well and eligible for funding? What is the normal start date for these grants?
Most grants are awarded in the summer with starting dates in August or September.

What happens after I apply for a funding announcement?
Applications are first screened for completeness and responsiveness according to the criteria specified in the funding announcement. Following this, eligible applications move forward to the NIOSH peer review process.

Is the “Data Sharing Plan (DSP)” the same thing as the “Data Management Plan (DMP)” or do research projects provide both a DSP and a DMP in the Resource Sharing Plan attachment?
No, these plans are not the same. The DSP is typically included in the Resource Sharing Plan in NIOSH/CDC funding announcements. The funding announcement specifies: “It is critical that applicants follow the Multi-Project (M) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.” The guide provides a description of the DSP content. Alternatively, the DMP is a separate component and a specific requirement of the funding announcement. The DMP is mentioned in different sections of the announcement under Additional Review Considerations Overall, Cores(s), Program and Research Projects; Additional Policy Requirements; and Funding Restrictions. The requirements of the DMP are described in the funding announcement and at: https://www.cdc.gov/grants/additional-requirements/ar-25.html.

Both the DMP and DSP concepts imply the description of how final research data will be shared. Because both are similar, you can combine them under one title “Data Sharing Plan/Data Management Plan” or have two titles (one for each one).

The following common questions and answers (Q&A) pertain to the recently published funding announcementexternal icon for the Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health®. This Q&A is categorized by the topic areas, shown below. You can also find additional information about this funding opportunity at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/oep/cooperative.html.

This funding announcement is the first time CDC/NIOSH has incorporated use of the National Institutes of Health Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) for preparing and submitting complex, multicomponent research applications electronically. We encourage you to review the following resources for information about preparing and submitting multi-project announcements:

What is the budget for a large project?
Up to $325 thousand direct costs/year can be requested for large research projects. For additional details, see Updated Information on the Research Projects Component for PAR-20-297 NIOSH Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® (U19)external icon.

Regarding the Research Pilot Project Program, can the applicant’s institution provide additional resources to extend the reach of the program beyond the $50 thousand limit in the funding announcement? If so, should the applicant include letters of support showing institutional commitment to the center’s pilot studies program?
Yes, it is acceptable to include these types of resources. Applicant institutions should verify the type(s) of additional resources that would be provided. For example, the applicant cannot use money from other federal grants.

Is there any guidance on how to present projects that will be funded in later years of the grant cycle (i.e., a small project that starts in year 4)?
Applicants may propose projects with varied timelines. The purpose, specific aims, timeline, and rationale for the timeline should be clearly explained in the description of the project.

Do the direct costs of each research project include the indirect costs of subcontracts?
Yes, the indirect costs of subcontracts should be included in the direct costs of each research project. The Direct Costs and Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs (Indirect Costs) of consortium should be included in Section F5 Other Direct Costs/Subawards/Consortium/Contractual Costs of the R&R Budget Form. NIH policy provides for exclusion of consortium/contractual F&A costs when determining if an applicant is complying with a direct cost limitation. CDC/NIOSH policy does not allow this.

For additional information, please see the instructions in Section IV. Application and Submission Information of the funding announcement, along with the R&R Budget Form in Section F5. Other Direct Costs.

Should all project principal investigators (PIs) have full-time equivalent (FTE) staff (direct or in-kind) in the Evaluation and Planning (E&P) Core? Is the FTE in the Research Core enough? Alternatively, should applicants identify a Director of the Research Core, specifically who has FTE in the E&P?
An internal steering committee (ISC) or advisory committee made up of program directors from each core will assist the PI in making scientific and administrative decisions in the operation of the center cores’ programs. It is at the Center Director’s discretion to determine who should be assigned to oversee or manage the operation of the research project component in the ISC. Once you have identified how to manage the research project component, you need to specify this explicitly in your application.

The options outlined in the question above are valid and acceptable, and the FTE effort can be described in the appropriate component(s):

  • Identify a program director for the research project component (who has FTE in the E&P Core).
  • Include all project PIs as part of the ISC; this activity should have FTE (direct or in-kind) in the E&P Core and/or their FTE in the Research Core.

Please consider allocating the FTE effort, avoiding any duplication.

Do you have recommendations for how to manage or prioritize costs, or can you share where the bulk of the budget is typically directed for centers?
No. It is at the applicant’s discretion how to distribute the funds in the detailed budget.

What type of institutional support is typical for institutions applying to be Centers of Excellence for TWH?
NIOSH does not request matching cost in this announcement. Applicants can receive resources from their institute, but applicant institutions should verify the type(s) of additional resources that would be provided. For example, the applicant cannot use funds from other federal grants. For more information on institutional commitment, see Section V. Application Review Information/Scored Review Criteria – Overall TWH Center of Excellence, in the subsection “Environment”.

Can an applicant leverage fee-based services?
If you are planning to incorporate activities that generate income, you must report those funds as program income. There are two options for any income generated: 1) return the money to the federal government or 2) reinvest that income in the center.

Is the Research Pilot Project Program considered a “research project”?
No, it is a program and must be considered as a component. The funding announcement states, “The Research Pilot Project Program is an optional component and must fit within the overall funding limits of the Research Projects component.” Additionally, the announcement specifies, “These projects are intended to address the exploration and development of new, creative intervention-effectiveness research, education, and translation projects.” Information about the description of the Research Pilot Project Program is in Section I. Funding Opportunity Description of the funding announcement under the subsection “Structure of TWH Centers: Components, Essential Cores, Programs, and Projects.”

Would a center be permitted to run a Research Pilot Project Program only from years 2–5 if it cannot start the program until year 2 due to various factors?
Yes. Information about the description of the Research Pilot Project Program is available in Section I. Funding Opportunity Description of the funding announcement, under the subsection “Structure of TWH Centers: Components, Essential Cores, Programs, and Projects.”

For the Research Pilot Project Program, an itemized budget for the first year of the program is required. Should applicants propose specific studies for the first year? Without knowing the specific pilot studies, should applicants complete the clinical trial documents if it is possible that there would be a trial in the future?
This is an optional component. If you plan to include this component in the application and are planning to announce the pilot projects during the first year of funding, submit an itemized budget for the first year. You must propose how the Research Pilot Project Program will be managed and operated. This may or may not include specific projects. For example, you can request an amount for the personnel that will manage the program and supplies. In the application, you will submit the description of the Research Pilot Project Program. You don’t need to submit the clinical trial documents for the Research Pilot Project Program with your application if you don’t know the pilot projects.

For more information on this component, see Section I. Funding Opportunity Description/Structure of TWH Centers: Components, Essential Cores, Programs, and Projects, in the section “Research Pilot Project Program (Optional).” This section lists provisions that must be included in the description of this component.

Please clarify the requirements regarding the number and types of research projects (i.e., large/small), as summarized in funding announcement in Table 1. Summary of TWH Center Components. In particular, are small projects allowed?
Yes, at least one small project is required. NIOSH expects the Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health (TWH) to have a variety of projects, large and small.

Because centers must have a small project, are applicants required to have one of each type of small research project, or one of either type?
Applicants may choose either a small research project type 1, a small research project type 2, or both project types. The number of small projects and types is at the investigator’s discretion. The requirement is so there is at least one small project regardless of whether it is type 1 or 2.

Additionally, see these sections of the funding announcement for more information pertaining to this topic:

  • Section I. Funding Opportunity Description, under Approach, in the Research Projects (Required) component,
  • Section IV. Application and Submission Information, under Research Projects: “Small projects with a maximum budget of $50K per year in direct costs and limited scope that use widely accepted approaches and methods within well-established fields,and/orSmall projects with a maximum of a two-year budget total of $275K in direct costs for exploratory and novel research that has the potential to lead to advances in health research.”

Can a small project focus on a systematic review or be focused on dissemination?
Research activities may vary widely. Applicants are not required to propose a project within a specific research category. It is at the investigator’s discretion what the focus of the project will be. The funding announcement provides guidance on the description of the small projects. For each project proposed, it is essential that applicants clearly explain the purpose, specific aims, and how the project fits into the overall strategy and approach of the center. Research projects often include outreach and dissemination activities.

Can large research projects involve two different occupational cohorts in our TWH proposal?
Yes. It is essential that applicants clearly explain the purpose, specific aims, and how the project fits into the overall strategy and approach of the center.

Are there any restrictions to involving more than one occupational cohort?
No.

Should a Burden, Need, and Impact (BNI) statement be included in this grant application? BNI is not mentioned anywhere in the funding announcement.
No, there is no formal requirement to include a BNI statement in your proposal. You may choose to include a BNI statement in your proposal as a useful way to frame your research questions or proposals. If you include the BNI statement, put it in the overall center description.

If a currently funded center plans to renew a project for the next grant cycle, in what section of the application should the center include information on the past performance?
If a current center plans to include the project for the next grant cycle, it will submit past performance information in both the Research Strategy of the Overall and in the Research Strategy of the Research Project Components sections of the application. Please follow the instructions specified in Section IV. Application and Submission Information of the funding announcement in both components (overall and research projects), under the subsection PHS 398 Research Plan (Research Project)/Research Strategy. Renewal applications can provide past performance/accomplishments in the last project period that address the major scientific achievements.

If the center DOES NOT plan to include the project in its grant renewal application, it will submit past performance information in the Research Strategy of the Overall Component of the application. For this, follow the instructions specified in the funding announcement: Section IV. Application and Submission Information, in the Overall Component under the subsection PHS 398 Research Plan (Overall)/Research Strategy. Renewal applications can provide past performance/accomplishments in the last project period that address the major scientific achievements.

It is at the investigator’s discretion to describe the past performance (clearly identified as such) as a separate section or integrated into the content of the Research Strategy.

Are new projects allowed a section in the grant application for preliminary work?
You can include this information in the Research Strategy section, respecting the page limit for new projects. It is at the investigator’s discretion what the number of pages for preliminary studies, or work will be within the page limits. Please follow the instructions for new projects in the funding announcement under these sections:
Section IV. Application and Submission Information/Page Limitations,
Section IV. Application and Submission Information/PHS 398 Research Plan,
Section IV. Application and Submission Information/Instructions for the Submission of Multi-Component Applications
.

Where can I find the page limit for past performance information?
Please follow the instructions specified in the funding announcement under Section IV. Application and Submission Information, Page Limitations. The investigator can use his or her discretion to decide what number of pages for past accomplishment will be within the page limitation indicated in the table under Section IV. Application and Submission Information, Page Limitations.  The funding announcement states that past performance/accomplishments should be described in the Research Strategy for each component (Overall, Eval-Plan Core, Outreach Core, Pilot Program, research Project). Renewal applications submitted by current centers can provide past performance/accomplishments in the last project period that address the major scientific achievements. The funding announcement provides additional pages in the Research Strategy (for each component) for renewal applications. The researcher cannot submit more pages than the specified limit in the table for the Research Strategy.

Could you clarify the page limits for the science sections of the application? Specifically, do page limits include specific aims? Is there a one-page limit for the specific aims?
Yes, the funding announcement specifies a one-page limit for the specific aims. Please follow the instructions specified in the funding announcement in Section IV. Application and Submission Information, Page Limitations.

Is the one-page Specific Aims section in addition to or a part of the page limits given in the funding announcement? For example, for a large grant being renewed, do the 18 pages allocated include the Specific Aims, or are the Aims in addition to the 18-page limit?
The one-page Specific Aims section is in addition to the Research Strategy page-limit. An applicant that will renew a large project can submit up to 18 pages for the Research Strategy and 1 additional page for the specific aims. Please see Section IV. Application and Submission Information of the funding announcement under Page Limitations.

When you apply, the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (Multi-Project Instructions for NIH and Other PHS Agencies)pdf iconexternal icon indicates that the Specific Aims and Research Strategy are two separate attachments. In this document, Page M-94, Section M.400 – PHS 398 Research Plan Form states, “The PHS 398 Research Plan form is used only for research, multi-project, and SBIR/STTR applications. This form includes fields to upload several attachments, including the Specific Aims and Research Strategy.”

Are there differences in the page limits for new projects compared to projects that are continuations of current research projects?
Yes. For new projects, the page limits are 6 pages for small projects and 12 pages for large projects. For continuations or renewals, the page limits are 12 pages for small projects and 18 pages for large projects. The distribution of the pages between past performance and the current research plan for renewal projects is at the investigators’ discretion, so long as the investigator stays within the overall page limit of a small or a large project. Please follow the instructions specified in the funding announcement under Section IV. Application and Submission Information, Page Limitations.

Can you please confirm that February 3, 2021 is the only due date for a new center application to be considered for funding by NIOSH?
Yes, currently February 3, 2021, is the only submission date for new applicants.

Under the current funding announcement, are resubmissions allowed for new applications submitted on the February 3, 2021, deadline that were not funded?
Currently, no resubmissions will be allowed for new centers including applicants who previously submitted applications and were not funded. This may change if additional funding becomes available.

What can be submitted for the other future application dates (10/2021, 10/2022, 10/2023)?
Only centers (new or renewal) that competed and were funded in FY 2021 can resubmit their research projects that were not funded on these dates. This guidance may change depending on available funding. For additional information, see the note to applicants in Section II. Award Information, under the subsection “Application Types Allowed” of the funding announcement.

Would it contribute to the geographic diversity of the TWH program to have partner institutions in other regions leading or collaborating on projects within a center (but not necessarily leading a core), or would it would not add to geographic diversity unless a partner was leading a core?
If a center has projects with Principal Investigators (PIs) at partner institutions, and the worker population of interest is located in a different region than the institution applying for the funding, this would appear to add geographic diversity. Those types of projects must fit cohesively with the proposed center mission, theme, or focus.
Using national survey instruments (or those with wide reach into diverse worker populations across the country) or using national-level interventions or projects could also serve to increase geographic diversity.

What will reviewers expect to see regarding how applicants will engage with other Centers of Excellence for TWH, if funded? What level of engagement would be typical beyond the structured events that NIOSH notes are required in the funding announcement?
Engagement between funded centers is encouraged and mentioned in the funding announcement in Section I. Funding Opportunity Description/Structure of TWH Centers: Components, Essential Cores, Programs, and Projects. See the following example from this section: “Partnerships are critical to translate research into practice and encouraged by the NIOSH Research-to-Practice (r2p) program. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaboration among investigators and institutions to share existing expertise and findings is essential in advancing the science of integrating health protection with activities that advance the overall well-being of workers in the work environment.”

You can also find language on center level collaboration in Section VI. Award Administration Information/Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award.

Below are past examples of engagements between centers:

Find more information about activities of the NIOSH Centers of Excellence for TWH and identify potential areas of interest here: NIOSH Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health webpage and Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health annual report.

If my institution already has a grant or a cooperative agreement with NIOSH (e.g., NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center, etc.), can I apply for this announcement?
Yes. Please consider that you cannot propose the same projects that are funded through another announcement. If you have a question about a specific NIOSH-funded grant or cooperative agreement, please contact Dr. Maria Lioce.

According to the funding announcement, all centers are supposed to have an Associate Director. Can a center have an Associate Director for Research and an Associate Director for Outreach?
Yes, this is allowed. Clearly describe and explain this in your application.

Do the Centers of Excellence grant application permit a Multi-Principal Investigator (PI) plan?
Yes. Multi-PI plans are permitted. You must list one name as the contact PI. The funding announcement specifies “Each applicant institution will name a Director (PD/PI) who will be the key figure in the administration, management and coordination of the grant. The Director will be responsible for the organization and operation of the Center.” Please follow the instructions in Section IV. Application and Submission Information/Overall of the funding announcement under the subsection “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile (Overall).”

Is it okay for someone to serve on the advisory board of more than one Center of Excellence?
Yes. However, when an individual is being considered for service on the external advisory committees for multiple centers, that person should officially inform each of those Center Directors about this. This ensures transparency for all centers involved. The person should also declare all conflicts of interest (COI) to each Center Director. If in doubt, the issue(s) should be discussed with the Center Directors. NIOSH does not make determinations about COIs that are the responsibility of grantees (grantee institutions or Center Directors).

Additionally, any persons serving, or under consideration for serving, on center advisory boards must declare if they are contacted by NIOSH to be a peer reviewer for TWH Center applications for funding.

Is it necessary to include some aspect of occupational medicine or public health, or is there a minimum expectation from reviewers that they would see physicians strongly represented in some way in the application?
The extent to which any type of expertise is included in any application depends on the specific research or other activities proposed in the application and is the applicant’s decision. The involvement of multidisciplinary team and expertise is mentioned in the funding announcement in Section I. Funding Opportunity Description/Structure of TWH Centers: Components, Essential Cores, Programs, and Projects and Section V. Application Review Information/Scored Review Criteria – Overall TWH Center of Excellence, under the subsection titled “Investigator(s).”

Do Center Directors need to lead one of the larger projects? Can Center Directors be present overall without any specific project, or perhaps lead a smaller project?
The Center Director should be

  • The key figure in the administration, management, and coordination of the Overall Center and for the grant, and
  • The Evaluation and Planning Core Project Lead, and they must commit at least 1.2 person-months effort (direct and/or in-kind) to the core.

It is the Center Director’s/Principal Investigator’s (PI) decision to be the lead on any specific projects. For more information on the role of the PI, review the funding announcement under Section IV. Application and Submission Information/Overall (Overall TWH COE Component) under Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile (Overall) and Section IV. Application and Submission Information/Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile (Evaluation and Planning Core) and under Budget (Evaluation and Planning Core).

What format should applicants use to prepare a core unit proposal?
Please follow the funding announcement instructions in Section IV. Application and Submission Information for each core. For example, the Outreach Core under PHS 398 Research Plan (Outreach Core) in the funding announcement specifies this format: Outreach Strategy, Specific Aims, Resource Sharing Plan among others.

Regarding NIOSH’s perspective on TWH, is it health promotion and intervention or a combination of Occupational and Environmental Health?
The funding announcement specifically defines TWH in Section I. Funding Opportunity Description: “TWH is defined as policies, programs and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.” Learn more  about what TWH is on the NIOSH TWH website. Applicants must address the research objectives of the most critical issues from the TWH-related goals that are found in the NIOSH Strategic Plan: FY’s 2019–2023 (specifically in the NIOSH Priority Goals for Extramural Research); the TWH Priority Areas and Emerging Issues; and the specific strategic, intermediate, and activity/output goals of National TWH Agenda (2016–2026)pdf icon.

In Section I. of the funding announcement, you can find more information about TWH in these areas: TWH Research and Translation Topic Areas, TWH High Priority Topic Areas, and Structure of TWH Centers: Components, Essential Cores, Programs, and Projects.

A needs assessment is mentioned in the funding announcement, but where should applicants include this information?
According to the funding announcement, you can mention this information in several sections:

  • Overall center description under “Significance.”
  • Description of the outreach core and the outreach logic model in the description of “Implementation Activities.” You can submit the information under “Significance.”
  • Description of the planning and evaluation logic model.

Please see additional information in the funding announcement under the following sections: Section I. Funding Opportunity Description/Structure of TWH Centers/Evaluation and Planning Core, Section I. Funding Opportunity Description/Structure of TWH Centers/Outreach Core, Section I. Funding Opportunity Description/Structure of TWH Centers/Outreach Core/Implementation Activities, Section V. Application Review Information/Scored Review Criteria – Overall TWH Center of Excellence/Significance, and Section V. Application Review Information/Outreach Core/Significance.

If an applicant develops a logic model for the evaluation and planning core that includes ways of assessing the center’s impact on research, research to practice, and outreach, should the center also include that in several components? Or should the center have different logic models for the overall center, evaluation and planning core, and outreach core?
The funding announcement requires the inclusion of a logic model for the planning and evaluation core and recommends including a logic model for the overall center and outreach component. The principal investigator may include additional logic models to enhance understanding of the proposed goals, outputs, and outcomes.

Page last reviewed: June 23, 2021