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NIH Proposals and Awards at Berkeley

NIH Proposal and Budget Preparation

Proposals and the budgets for the projects being proposed to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are developed by UC Berkeley principal investigators (PIs) with the assistance of their department/CSS research administrator. The Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) expects the department/CSS unit to ensure that the proposal has been developed in accordance with NIH proposal guidelines, the proposal content is true and accurate, and that all commitments are approved and necessary for the success of the project. SPO also relies on the department/CSS unit to ensure that the costs requested are in line with University rates and policies.

SPO reviews each complete NIH application for compliance with both sponsor and University policies and to guarantee that appropriate fringe and F&A rates have been used. SPO also ensures that no unallowable costs have been requested and no unsupported University or third-party commitments have been made. Other proposal budgeting errors are a department/CSS responsibility.

PIs seeking assistance with how to prepare an NIH application will find NIH guidance to Write Your Application as well as Grant Writing Tips Sheets and Sample Applications. PIs are encouraged to review this information carefully.

NIH budgets are presented in modular format unless direct costs exceed $250,000 per year. This NIH modular budget template is provided to assist PIs develop a modular budget for review by SPO. If a more detailed budget is required due to the amount of direct costs requested, PIs are encouraged to review Proposal Budget Basics provided by SPO.


Graduate Student Compensation on NIH Grants

Compensation for graduate students on NIH grants includes salary or wages, fringe benefits, and tuition remission. PIs/departments should budget for the actual/projected cost of these items at the proposal stage. When an NIH award is received, PIs/departments should re-budget to ensure that the maximum compensation for graduate students does not exceed the zero-level National Research Service Award (NRSA) stipend in effect at the time of the award.

For the NIH policy, see NIH Graduate Student Compensation (Notice NOT-OD-02-017). For the latest NRSA stipend levels, see Policies and Notices on NIH Research Training and Career Development Programs.


Changes to NIH Policy and Procedures

To stay up to date with important changes in NIH policy and procedures, PIs should subscribe to the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts, the sponews-l@lists.berkeley.edu mailing list, and SPO’s Research Advocate news feed.

Important: PIs and department/CSS research administrators should be aware that NIH periodically implements updated versions of federal-wide SF424 (R&R) and agency-specific (PHS) grant application forms in order to remain current with the most recent form sets available through Grants.gov and approved by the Office of Management and Budget.


NIH eRA Commons

The NIH eRA Commons is the National Institutes of Health system for interactive electronic transactions for the receipt, review, monitoring, and administration of NIH grants. To register contact the Sponsored Projects Office at UC Berkeley for assistance with registration: spoawards@berkeley.edu.

Persons who wish to register in the eRA Commons should contact SPO individually and provide the following information:

First Name:
Last Name:
UCB Email (A UCB email address must be provided.):
Type of account needed (i.e., PI, Postdoc, Assist):

After each individual is registered in the Commons, each individual will receive a separate “Account Created” notification email containing the username created by SPO and a randomly generated password created by the eRA Commons. The individual then can create a new confidential password.

New users who are PIs will receive an email that provides a link to a special form that the PI uses to confirm the information that NIH has regarding the PI’s participation in grant applications, committee involvement, and training appointments. Only after this form is completed does the PI receive an email with the account information.


NIH Proposal Submission Guidelines

Proposals to the NIH must be submitted for review and institutional approval through SPO. SPO accepts proposals to the NIH using Phoebe, the UC Berkeley system for proposal approvals and routing from departments and units to SPO and the Industry Alliances Office.

There are currently two ways to submit NIH applications: submission using Grants.gov or submission using NIH ASSIST.

After preparing the NIH proposal according to Grants.gov requirements, the PI should work with his or her department/CSS research administrator to submit the proposal to SPO through Phoebe.

A completed Grants.gov proposal package must be attached to the Phoebe record before the proposal is submitted to SPO through Phoebe in order for the proposal to be considered complete.

Submission using NIH Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST)

NIH ASSIST is a web-based proposal submission tool for NIH applications. It permits users to prepare and submit single-project and multi-project grant applications directly to NIH.

NIH ASSIST is now an option for:

  • all single and multi-project, competing grant applications;
  • single-project administrative supplements;
  • single-project, post-award successor-in-interest (type 6) requests; and
  • single-project, post-award change of institution (type 7) requests.

For help using ASSIST, see NIH eRA Training - ASSIST.

See Phoebe Help for specific instructions and guidance for logging on and navigating through Phoebe. See the SPO Quick Guide to Proposal Review and Submission for UC Berkeley Faculty for instructions on how to submit a proposal to SPO and IAO.


Post Proposal Submission: Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

As of October 17, 2014, NIH began requiring grantees to submit all type 5 progress reports (non-competing continuation applications) using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) module in eRA Commons. See NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-014.

Note: For SNAP awards, UC Berkeley PIs may submit the RPPR report directly to NIH if they have been delegated submission authority by SPO.

For the purpose of completing the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), PIs may find it more convenient to register the individuals who have performed a postdoctoral, graduate or undergraduate role on the PI’s project as a group. To do this, the PI should send an email to spoawards@berkeley.edu with a list of the individuals to be registered in the eRA Commons. SPO will need the same information listed above for each individual that needs to be registered. After these individuals have been registered in the Commons, SPO then will send the PI an email containing each individual’s username so that the PI can complete the RPPR.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

All NIH progress reports (RPPRs) submitted after October 1, 2014 must include a report on the use of IDPs in Section B. Accomplishments, Question B.4. for all the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers included in Section D. list of Participants. This should be a brief description of how and whether individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award. Actual IDPs should not be included. (For more information, see NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-14-113.)

The following statement is provided to assist Berkeley PIs respond to Section D of the RPPR:

“Pending more formal guidelines, UC Berkeley graduate students and postdocs are encouraged to utilize IDPs every year to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentor(s). Similarly, Berkeley faculty mentors are encouraged to promote the use of IDPs among their trainees. The recommended tool for life sciences is myIDP from ScienceCareers/AAAS. The Berkeley IDP working group provides information to trainees and faculty and can help create training sessions to facilitate the use of IDPs.”

General suggestions and resources for IDPs can be found at:


RPPR and the NIH Public Access Policy

One significant change that comes with the RPPR process is automatic screening for compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. This policy requires that manuscripts resulting from NIH funding be deposited with the PubMed Central archive. PIs will need to use My NCBI to enter papers onto progress reports. Publications and manuscripts listed in your progress report and falling under the NIH Public Access policy must include the PubMed Central reference number. NIH will not award non-competing continuation awards when the RPPR publications are not in compliance with the Public Access Policy.

When Your Progress Report is Due

SNAP RPPRs are due the 15th of the month preceding the month in which the budget period ends. Fellowship progress reports are due two months before the beginning date of the next budget period.

Go to the NIH eRA Commons Progress Report Search By IPF Number to find a listing by institution and PI of upcoming progress reports due to NIH. You will need UC Berkeley’s IPF number to conduct this search: 577502

The returned list shows all progress reports by due date and PI name for reports due to NIH in the next four months or so. Grants that will be going into the final year of the project period are flagged with an asterisk (*) in the column labeled “LY”.

RPPR Resources and FAQs

Exceptions to the RPPR

The RPPR may not be used for prior approval requests, with the exception of requesting prior approval for a reduction in the level of effort of the PD/PI or other senior/key personnel named in the Notice of Award under D.2 of the RPPR. All other prior approval requests should be submitted through SPO directly to the Grants Management Officer of the awarding component. The RPPR also is not an appropriate vehicle for a prior approval request to change, add, or delete PD/PIs. Such requests should continue to be processed through SPO.

Effective October 17, 2014, NIH implemented the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for All Type 5 Non-SNAP Progress Reports. Effective January 1, 2017, the Final Research Performance Progress Report (F-RPPR) replaces the Final Progress Report (FPR) for closeout effective January 1, 2017. See NIH Implementation of Final Research Performance Progress Reports (Final RPPR) (NOT-OD-17-022) and the NIH RPPR website for more information.


NIH PI and Fellow Certification Requirements

In April 2006, the National Institutes of Health announced a change in business process to replace the principal investigator signature on grant applications, progress reports, and prior approval requests with an institutional compliance requirement. The change requires each institution to secure and retain the PI signature as part of the institutional review/approval process. To meet the requirement, the Sponsored Projects Office developed a form, the “NIH Principal Investigator Assurance Certification Form.” The form must be submitted to SPO with NIH progress reports and prior approval requests. Phoebe PI certification includes this requirement, so the form is not necessary for NIH applications submitted through Phoebe.

On October 14, 2008, NIH announced a change regarding the signatures of the applicant (individual fellow) and sponsor(s) as a part of Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) PHS 416-1 grant applications, certain post-submission information, PHS 416-9 progress reports, and post-award prior approval requests for individual fellowships. The change requires each institution to secure and retain the individual fellow and sponsor(s) signatures as part of the institutional review/approval process. This change in business process for individual fellowships now brings them in line with the similar business process change for principal investigators instituted in 2006. This business process change applies to all competing applications prepared using the PHS 416-1 application and to to all progress reports for continuation support.

To meet the requirement, the Sponsored Projects Office developed the “NIH NSRA Fellowship Assurance Certification Form.” The form must be submitted to SPO with NIH PHS 416 fellowship applications, progress reports, and prior approval requests.


NIH Financial Conflict of Interest Requirements

The Public Health Service (PHS) requires disclosure of significant financial interests by investigators who participate in PHS-funded research either directly or via subaward. See the campus Conflict of Interest Committee guidance on PHS Financial Disclosure for a complete description of the FCOI requirements.

This policy applies to all NIH investigators at various stages of their NIH funded project. See What SPO Requires: PHS FCOI Guide for Department Research Administrators and PIs, developed by SPO to assist departments in complying with this policy.


NIH Requirements on Education in the Protection of Human Subjects

Effective October 1, 2000, all principal investigators and key personnel conducting clinical research on NIH grants or contracts are required to undergo training in the protection of human subjects in research. See NIH Requirements on Education in the Protection of Human Subjects for guidance on how PIs should comply with this policy.


Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training

On November 24, 2009, the National Institutes of Health updated its policy requiring instruction of trainees in the Responsible Conduct of Research. There are several options at UC Berkeley for RCR training; trainees may choose what’s right for their goals and schedules. See Required Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training: NIH RCR Training for more information.


NIH Genomic Data Sharing

On August 27, 2014, the National Institutes of Health published its final Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy. This policy is designed to promote sharing, for research purposes, of large-scale human and non-human genomic data generated from NIH-funded research. See NIH Genomic Data Sharing for more information.

The GDS Policy applies to all competing NIH grant applications and proposals for NIH contracts submitted for the January 25, 2015 deadline and thereafter if the proposed research will generate large-scale human or non-human genomic data or will use these data for subsequent research. In such cases, the GDS Policy applies regardless of the funding level.

The Policy also will affect research performance progress reports for large-scale human or non-human genomic NIH funded studies awarded prior to the Policy’s effective date. Investigators will be expected to provide an updated genomic data sharing plan to the NIH funding Institute or Center when the research performance progress report is submitted.