About the NIH Common Fund

The NIH Common Fund is a component of the NIH budget which is managed by the Office of Strategic Coordination/Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Coordination/Office of the NIH Director. Common Fund programs address emerging scientific opportunities and pressing challenges in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute or Center (IC) can address on its own, but are of high priority for the NIH as a whole. The Common Fund is a unique resource at NIH, functioning as a “venture capital” space where high-risk, innovative endeavors with the potential for extraordinary impact can be supported. Common Fund programs are short-term, goal-driven strategic investments, with deliverables intended to catalyze research across multiple biomedical research disciplines.

Common Fund programs must meet five overarching criteria. Programs must be:

  • Transformative: Must have high potential to dramatically affect biomedical and/or behavioral research over the next decade
  • Catalytic: Must achieve a defined set of high impact goals within a defined period of time
  • Synergistic: Outcomes must synergistically promote and advance individual missions of NIH ICs to benefit health
  • Cross-cutting: Program areas must cut across missions of multiple NIH ICs, be relevant to multiple diseases or conditions, and be sufficiently complex to require a coordinated, trans-NIH approach
  • Unique: Must be something no other entity is likely or able to do

Common Fund programs are intended to change paradigms, develop innovative tools and technologies, and/or provide fundamental foundations for research that can be used by the broad biomedical research community.


This page last reviewed on May 4, 2017