Council's Role in the Funding Process

​“Did Council fund my grant?” This question is often asked shortly after the NIGMS Advisory Council meets in January, May, and September. The short answer is: No, and here’s why.

As described on the Council Meetings and Functions overview page, Council provides oversight to ensure that the initial review for scientific and technical merit conducted by the study section was fair and in compliance with policy.

Each Council member is assigned a set of applications from the most recent round of study sections. He or she reads the summary statements for these applications and considers whether:

  • There was appropriate expertise to review the application.
  • The summary statement comments are substantive, appropriate, and consistent with the priority score.
  • The project addresses NIGMS programmatic needs.

Most applications pass through this second level of review without specific comment. However, Council members occasionally identify an application that they wish to bring to the attention of program staff. This may be due to a situation in which the numerical score is better or worse than appears to be justified by the written critique. Applications identified by Council are briefly discussed in a closed session along with applications that may receive additional scrutiny, such as NIGMS-specific funding opportunities, appeals, applications from foreign institutions, and applications from well-funded investigators.

During each meeting, Council members review more than 1,000 applications. While they do not discuss the vast majority of them, they must vote whether to concur with the study section recommendations. For most applications, this is done en bloc.

Council members may give expert advice about the review process, but they do not make funding decisions. Deliberations about which applications to recommend for funding occur at post-Council pay plan meetings in which groups of NIGMS program staff discuss individual applications. The scientific reviews weigh heavily in the funding recommendation process, but staff also consider programmatic priorities, research portfolio balance, and other factors.

Once staff make funding recommendations it takes at least 2 to 3 weeks for the pay authorizations to be generated and approved. At that point your program official will be able to tell you whether your application is likely to be funded and if so, what the approximate budget and length of award will be. However, it is important to note that the final budget is calculated by grants management staff, and you should not assume the grant has been funded until the Notice of Award is issued. If you have questions about the status of your application, your program official is the best source of information.