We Accelerate Discovery

You are here


Common Fund Program Lifecycle


Strategic Planning: Phases 1 and 2

Common Fund Strategic Planning Reports

The Public Health Service Act requires the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to submit a strategic plan to Congress every two years for funding research through the Common Fund.

NEW! 2013 Strategic Planning Report
2011 Strategic Planning Report
2009 Strategic Planning Report


The Common Fund is intended to be a flexible resource for NIH to make strategic investments in programs that will have high impact NIH-wide. Strategic planning is undertaken regularly to identify research areas that address key roadblocks in biomedical research or that represent emerging scientific opportunities ripe for Common Fund investment.


Strategic planning involves the identification of trans-NIH challenges and opportunities that address the Common Fund criteria. Broad topics identified in Phase 1 are refined into a series of well-defined programs and initiatives in Phase 2. The Council of Councils for the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) acts as an external advisory panel to the DPCPSI and NIH Directors for consideration of Phase 1 concepts. 

Phase 1 and Phase 2 Chart

FY 2016 Strategic Planning updates!


As part of Phase 1 planning for potential new Common Fund programs in fiscal year 2016, ideas were solicited from NIH Institutes and Centers in the winter and spring of 2014. Through their extensive and continuous interactions with external scientists, the ICs are well positioned to develop ideas that reflect the needs of both the broad scientific community as well as within NIH. To effectively evaluate the responsiveness of the proposed idea to Common Fund criteria, as well as the potential impact of the program, idea submissions addressed the following questions:


  • What is the major obstacle/challenge/opportunity that the Common Fund should address?
  • What would the goals of the program be?
  • Why is a trans-NIH strategy needed to achieve these goals?
  • What initiatives might form the strategic plan for this topic?
  • If a Common Fund program on this topic achieved its objectives, what would be the impact?


Concepts emerging from Phase 1 strategic planning activities were referred to the Council of Councils for concept clearance in June 2014. Cleared concepts are being reviewed by NIH leadership to select several ideas to move on to Phase 2 planning. Decisions about concepts moving to Phase 2 planning are anticipated in summer/fall 2014.


New FY 2015 Common Fund programs!


The Common Fund plans to launch three new programs in FY 2015, contingent upon availability of funds:

Phase 3



As each Common Fund program is unique, the implementation of each program varies. To read more about the currently supported Common Fund programs, see “Common Fund Programs.”

Phase 4



Common Fund programs are designed to achieve a set of high-impact goals within a 5-10 year time frame. At the conclusion of each program, deliverables will either stimulate IC-funded research or will transition to support by ICs or other entities that find these resources useful.

Four Common Fund programs have undergone this transition:

Common Fund programs are evaluated throughout the lifecycle as the need arises.



Up to Top