What to know about the Postdoctoral Process - Grant Maintenance

Grant Maintenance

What is the first thing I should do when I get the Notice of Fellowship Award?

As soon as you get the Notice of Fellowship Award, please immediately do two things:

  1. Send in your Activation Notice (please see the next question for details); and
  2. Put a note in your calendar to send in your competing continuation no later than 90 days before the end of your annual budget period.

When can I start?

Unlike regular grants, fellowships must be activated before they may start. This is to accommodate the semester system and other regularities of student schedules. Following the technical review of your grant, if your grant will be funded, a Notice of Research Fellowship Award, also known as the Notice of Grant Award or NGA, will be created for you. The issue date on the NGA is the first date you may select as your "activation date." Awards must be activated within six months of receipt of award notice, unless prior arrangements have been made. At the time the NGA is received, you must submit an Activation Notice (PHS 416-5 - PDF, 246KB) giving your preferred start date and this date must be accepted by the NIH awarding component. You should know that the Activation Notice date you select, unless you hear otherwise, will be the first day of your budget period. You will receive no notice of that fact during the first year. You must keep your budget period in mind so that you can be on time in fulfilling your non-competing continuation application obligation. The NIH will not prompt you for it. The activation form is sent to the NIDA Grants Management Branch.

What is the address for the NIDA Grants Management Branch?

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 
Chief, Grants Management Branch 
6101 Executive Boulevard, Room 242, MSC 8403 
Bethesda, MD 20892-8403 
Express Mail/Courier Service: Rockville, MD 20852 
Phone: (301) 443-6710 
FAX: (301) 594-6849

What is the Grants Management Branch and how do I interact with them?

The Grants Management Branch holds the official files for the institute and all official documents you send them must be originals. During the course of your grant, you may be asked for co-signed documents. These must be on official university letterhead and signed by the fellow, the sponsor, the department chair, and the grants official listed on the face page of your grant application. Please also note that the Notice of Fellowship Award contains the name of your Grants Management Specialist (GMS), which it will refer to as your Grants Specialist. Your GMS is located in the Grants Management Branch. The Notice of Fellowship Award also contains the name of your Government Program Official (PO), which it will refer to as your Program Official. Your PO will be your primary contact, whereas your GMS will be the primary contact for your university grants official.

Now that I have received my award, do I have to send in reports every year?

Yes. You can find the Project Report form, also known as the non-competing continuation form, and instructions at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/416-9/phs416-9.htm. You must submit the continuation application, also known as the Project Report, every year, no later than 60 days before the end of your budget year.

Will someone inform me when the Project Report is due?

Maybe. Your university has the responsibility to inform you. However, it is wise not to depend upon someone else. Mark your calendar for no later than 60 days before the end of your budget year. Your uninterrupted funding may depend upon it.

What are the most important items to include in the Project Report?

Be especially careful to describe your scientific experiments and findings in detail. The Institute requires this information for tracking purposes and to assist you with your career. Reference all publications, presentations, and abstracts. Report whether you have completed a course in ethics as part of your plan to meet the NIH Responsible Conduct of Research requirement. Include a copy of any manuscripts published during the past year. Include a copy of any unpublished papers that have been fully accepted for publication (those that are "in press"). Give their expected date of publication.

What kinds of changes do I need to report in the Project Report?

Report only pre-approved substantial changes in response to the item "Any Changes." Substantial changes would include a change of scope, a change of sponsor, or a change of institution. Substantial changes must be pre-approved by the Government before the changes can be implemented. Your Program Official will assist you with your questions. When your questions have been satisfied and if it is agreed that you will need to obtain Government pre-approval, contact your Grants Management Specialist. Your Grants Management Specialist will begin the formal process of obtaining Government pre-approval. Document pre-approved substantial changes in the Project Report under the item "Any Changes." Describe any other changes elsewhere in the Project Report.

How important is my publication record?

It is very important to your career for you to publish. This is the primary measure of productivity used in grant reviews. You should aim for a high record of publication according to the standards in your field. You should seek to be the first author. And you should seek to publish in high-visibility, peer-reviewed journals. It is a good idea to plan your strategy to assure this result. This would include assessing the topics on which you would write, your target journals and a schedule for completion. Enlist the assistance of your sponsor.

What should I do if my sponsor does not have a high record of productivity?

If your sponsor does not have a high record of productivity, it is a good idea to seek guidance in developing your publication plan from someone who has. Ideally, this is built into your grant proposal. Otherwise, you may seek publication planning advice formally from another person through your sponsor. Or you may seek it informally, but in any case you are advised to seek your sponsor's approval of your publication plan so they can assist you with meeting your objectives.