Disclaimer: The information in these pages are meant to provide general guidance. Instructions and procedures outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement and SF424 Application Guide take precedence over any information provided and should be referred to for complete and comprehensive directions.
Before you can submit an application, you need to make sure you have all the necessary registrations and accounts. Work closely with your institution's business office to get registered and to determine its internal procedure for submitting an application to NIH.
Step 1: Ensure Applicant Institution Is Registered
Applicant institutions must complete and maintain the following registrations to apply and receive awards. Registration can take six weeks or more, so institutions should begin the registration process as soon as possible.
- Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) – All institutions must be issued a DUNS number. A DUNS number is needed to complete both SAM and eRA Commons registrations, and the same DUNS number must be used for all registrations and the grant application.
- System for Award Management (SAM) – Institutions must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires an annual renewal that may take as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code.
- Grants.gov – Institutions must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration to complete registration.
- eRA Commons – Institutions must have an active DUNS number to register. To submit an application, a Signing Official (SO) and Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account must be designated.
Step 2: Ensure Applicant Is Registered
The PD/PI must have an eRA Commons account. The PD/PI should work with his/her institutional officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant institution in eRA Commons. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to two weeks.
Step 3: Request an Application Package
The application forms package must be accessed through one of the following systems:
- Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) – ASSIST is used to prepare and submit applications electronically to NIH and other Public Health Service agencies.
- Grants.gov Workspace – Workspace is the standard way for organizations or individuals to apply for federal grants in Grants.gov.
- Institutional System-to-System – See your institution’s administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.
Step 4 (Optional): Contact NIH Institute or Center for Instructions on Clinical Trials
The Pioneer Award welcomes any project relevant to the NIH mission, including clinical trials. Though technical and conceptual risks are expected in highly innovative projects, clinical research must also contend with potential risks to human subjects. Because awards are administered by the most topic-relevant NIH Institute or Center (IC), applicants proposing NIH-defined clinical trials should contact program staff at the appropriate IC to ensure their applications conform to NIH and IC-specific policies for clinical trials.
For a list of IC contacts for clinical trials research, see our page on NIH Clinical Trials Contacts.
More questions? Contact us at PioneerAwards@mail.nih.gov.
This page last reviewed on July 10, 2020