NIH Fellowship Application

As a student or postdoc, you are likely to apply for fellowships to support your research. This section focuses on the NIH F31 and F32 applications open to US citizens and permanent residents.

  • NIH F31 (parent, predoctoral). The purpose of this program is to help predoctoral students to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research.
  • NIH F31 (diversity, predoctoral): The purpose of this program is to support research of predoctoral students from underrepresented populations in biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.  
  • NIH F32 (postdoctoral): The purpose of this program is to provide postdoctoral researchers with the opportunity to strengthen their scientific background and increase their potential for health-related research.

These tips are here to assist you, but should never substitute for checking the most recent funding announcements and instructions. See the page limits for NIH applications. See F31 checklist from GW grants and contracts here.

Consider the Spring course, BMSC 8219 "Writing the Grant-Style Qualifier" that covers many of these points. This chart includes links to ppts in the GW course.

SMHS students and postdocs should also contact Associate Dean for Research Workforce Development, Dr. Alison Hall at for individual assistance.

NIH Fellowship Preparation and Tools

Before you begin: Contact your NIH program officer; Alert your advisor and administrative support; reach out to referees Read the instructions! See Forms G Fellowship Instructions for NIH and other PHS agencies (released Oct. 25, 2021). Register and populate ORCID; ask GW Grants & Contracts for eRA Commons account

BMSC 8219 Qualifier and Fellowship

BMSC 8219 Is the F31 for you?

Section What is this? Page Limit Resources Pro Tips
Biographical Sketch Highlight qualifications:
  • personal statement
  • positions, sci. appointments and honors
  • Contributions to science
  • Scholastic Performance
5 pages Use template in fellowship NIH Biosketch

See SciENcv

Edit personal statement for each application & indicate mechanism

BMSC 8219 Biosketch

Title of Project Brief descriptive title of project 200 characters including spaces Consider revising the title from your Qualifier Exam? Avoid abbreviations and jargon
Cover Letter Fellowship applications must include a list of referees in the cover letter (3; including name, departmental affiliation, and institution). None Specified, but short    
Project Summary / Abstract Succinct project summary 30 lines Application’s broad, long-term objectives and specific aims referencing health relatedness; research design and methods; fellowship training plan and the environment in which research training will take place.  
Introduction Introduction to Resubmission or Revision (when applicable)

Discusses changes made to the application
1 page Chasan-Taber, UMass Amherst: Information and Tips about your Introduction for your Resubmission BMSC 8219 Review and Resubmission
Candidate Background and Goals for Fellowship Training One PDF for combined three sections:

A. Doctoral Dissertation and Research Experience

B. Training Goals & Objectives

C. Activities Planned Under this Award
6 pages Total  

BMSC 8219 IDP and letters

BMSC 8219 Candidate background, training goals

Specific Aims This will concisely state the goals of the research and summarize the expected outcomes, including impacts (2-3 aims) 1 page UCLA Youtube Video (Sarkisian)

BioScience Writers: Anatomy of Specific Aims Page
BMSC 8219 Hypothesis to aims
Research Strategy Include A. Significance and C. Approach. (Section B Innovation usu not included for fellowship) 6 pages Research Strategy Example University of Colorado F31 Sample - Specific Aims and Research Strategy

NIH training Modules about rigor,reproducibility and transparency when designing your experiment

BMSC 8219 SA, Signif, Model

BMSC 8219 Rigor

BMSC 8219 Research Approach

Bibliography References cited in research strategy and aims No limit NIH Formatting Guidelines  
Respective Contributions Describe collaborative process between you and sponsor and respective roles 1 page JEFworks Blog Respective Contributions Examples  
Selection of Sponsors and Institution Why select the sponsor and the institution 1 page Chapter 3, Hollenbach  
Facilities & Other Resources Facilities available to support this research – Laboratory, Animal, Computer, Office, Clinical and Other None Specified GW SMHS Cores, Facilities, and Other Resources How the scientific environment will contribute to the probability of success of the project; information is important in establishing feasibility; see BMSC 8219 Templates.
Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research Addresses the five required instructional components in NIH’s responsible conduct of research policy 1 page OVPR Responsible Conduct of Research Include GW plan in your plan to obtain instruction in RCR. Include when you had trainig and plan for refreshers; see  BMSC 8219 Templates
Sponsor and Co-Sponsor Statements Research Support Available o Sponsor’s/Co-Sponsors Previous Fellows/Trainees o Training Plan, Environment, Research Facilities o Number of Fellows/Trainees to be Supervised During the Fellowship o Applicant’s Qualifications and Potential for a Research Career 6 pages   BMSC 8219 Sponsor Statement
Letters of Support 3-5 letters of recommendation (can’t be from PI or co-sponsors) 2 pages each NIH Reference Letters BMSC 8219 IDP and letters
Description of Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training Sponsoring institution documents strong well established research program in candidates area of interest. 2 pages Review, personalize and update--and contact Dr. Hall BMSC 8219 Institutional Templates

Typically provided by the director of the graduate program or the department chair.
Resource Sharing Plan Certain proposals need to describe how research will be shared 1 page JEFworks blog: Resource Sharing Plan Example  
Vertebrate Animals (if necessary – will need IACUC) Describe the use of vertebrate animals to ensure humane treatment. 1 page GW Office of Animal Research NIH checklist regarding vertebrate animals section

NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare: Description for what is required for this section
Human subject use (if necessary – will need IRB) Describe the use of human subjects 1 page NIH FAQs about human subjects

Budget The total amount requested for the period of support (includes stipend amount, tuition and fees, and standard institutional allowance) None Specified GW SMHS Sample Budget for Doctoral Candidate

Obtain GW graduate tuition;

BMSC 8219 Institutional Templates

Sample Applications Examples of successful NIH F, K, T, and R applications can be found at the University of Alabama Grant Library.  

NIAID Fellowship Grants - tips

UAB Grants Library