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NEI-Specific Conference Grant Information


NEI recognizes the value of supporting high quality scientific meetings, workshops, symposia, or conferences that are relevant to its scientific mission. EI-funded research project grants typically provide travel funds for investigators to attend conferences which directly benefit their research. In addition, NEI occasionally funds Conference Grants (R13) and Conference Cooperative Agreement Grants (U13) which directly support specific meetings on topics of particular programmatic relevance. The NEI is highly selective in its choice of these scientific areas. Therefore, applicants must contact Dr. Houmam Araj at 301-451-2020 or arajh@mail.nih.gov, to obtain written prior approval before submitting an application. This written prior approval must be included in the grant application.

Applications may be submitted by U.S. institutions, including scientific or professional societies eligible to receive grants from Public Health Service agencies. Foreign institutions are not eligible. In the case of an international conference, the U.S. representative organization of an established international scientific or professional society is the eligible applicant. Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply as Principal Investigators (PI).

In most instances, the NEI intends to support investigator-initiated scientific meetings through the U13 Conference Cooperative Agreement Mechanism. NEI extramural program staff will be substantially involved in the planning and conduct of the scientific meeting, assisting the Principle Investigator according to specific Terms and Conditions. These Terms and Conditions are given below and will be included in each Notice of Grant Award. In exceptional circumstances, it may not be practical or necessary for NEI staff to participate substantially in the planning or conduct of the meeting. NEI will use the traditional conference grant (R13) to support such activities.

Terms and Conditions of Conference Grant Cooperative Agreement Awards

The Principal Investigator (PI) will have the primary authority and responsibility to define objectives and approaches; plan, publicize, and conduct the scientific meeting; and publish the results of the meeting.

The PI will retain custody of and have primary rights to information developed under the cooperative agreement, subjection to Government rights of access, consistent with current Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) policies.The appropriate NEI extramural Program Director will assist, but not direct, the PI in the planning and conduct of the scientific meeting to ensure that the meeting is relevant and responsive to NEI scientific program objectives, research needs and opportunities, and strategic research questions identified in “National Plan for Eye and Vision Research” which is available at http://www.nei.nih.gov/strategicplanning/. These activities may include assisting the PI in finalizing the meeting format and agenda, selecting topics for discussion, publicizing the meeting, selecting speakers and other meeting participants, and publishing the meeting proceedings.

Publication and copyright agreements and the requirements for financial status reports; retention of records; and terminal progress reports will be as stated in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm#gps. An independent, third-party individual acceptable to both the PI and the NEI will be asked to serve as an arbitrator of any serious differences of opinion on scientific and programmatic issues that may arise during the planning and conduct of the scientific meeting. This special arbitration process will in no way affect the rights of the recipient to appeal an adverse action in accordance with PHS regulations of 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D, and DHHS regulations of 45 CFR Part 16.

These special Terms and Conditions are in addition to, not in lieu of, otherwise applicable Office of Management and Budget administrative guidelines; DHHS grant administrative regulations at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92, as appropriate; and other DHHS, PHS, and NIH grants administration policies.

Review Considerations

Applications will be reviewed for scientific and technical merit in accordance with standard NIH procedures in an initial review group convened by the NEI Scientific Review Branch.

Review Criteria

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health. In the written comments reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects of the application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals. Each of these criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score, weighting them as appropriate for each application. Note that the application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact and thus deserve a high priority score:

  • The importance of the proposed scientific meeting to investigators in the area and to the general biomedical community;
  • Timeliness and the need for the proposed scientific meeting;
  • Adequacy of the scope and content of the proposed scientific meeting;
  • Qualifications of the conference organizers and the proposed participants;
  • Adequacy of the applicant’s efforts and plans to seek out and encourage the participation of women and underrepresented minorities;
  • Appropriateness of the proposed format for achieving the stated goals; and,
  • Adequacy of plans to disseminate the information generated by the scientific meeting;

In addition to the above criteria, in accordance with NIH policy, all applications will also be reviewed with respect to the reasonableness of the proposed budget.

Award Criteria
Award criteria that will be used to make award decisions include scientific merit of the proposed scientific meeting as determined by peer review; relevance to NEI program objectives, research needs and opportunities, and strategic research questions; and the availability of funds.