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2. Identifying Sources of Funding



A. Sponsored Agreements

Types of Proposals
Solicited Proposals
Unsolicited Proposals

Types of Awards
Cooperative Agreements

Sponsored Agreements

Most of the research conducted at universities nationwide is performed with funds from sponsoring agencies that support research, training, and service through various agreements. Researchers, or principal investigators (PIs) submit proposals to sponsors, through their institutions, requesting funding for clearly defined sponsored activities.

Types of Proposals
There are two types of proposals submitted by the University for PIs in search of sponsored funding:

1. Solicited Applications/Proposals

Requests for Applications (RFAs) are stand-alone requests for applications. Each will provide sufficient information to allow prospective applicants to determine whether to apply, including the amount of funding available, the number of awards anticipated, the deadline date for receipt of applications, and other information describing the nature of the effort desired and the obligations of recipients. For cooperative agreements, the RFA will describe the responsibilities and obligations of the agency and awardees as well as joint responsibilities and obligations. Occasionally, RFAs limit the number of proposals that an institution may submit, necessitating an ad-hoc internal selection process.

Solicitations, or requests for proposals (RFPs), are issued by agencies or private funding sources who make requests for a specific project. The request for proposals may be listed as Program Announcements (PA). PAs are used to describe new, continuing, or expanded program interests of the Sponsor or to announce the availability of a new mechanism of support. These RFPs are generally subject to open bidding to any qualified research institution. Deadlines are specified in the announcement and must be adhered to (see Sponsor Grants and Program Announcements). The resulting agreement usually takes the form of a contract between the funding agency and the institution.

2. Unsolicited Proposals

Unsolicited proposals are submitted to a potential sponsor in accordance with general guidelines and statements of interest rather than as a result of a specific solicitation. If the sponsor decides to fund the proposed plan of work, the funding may take the form of a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. Most National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant support is the result of unsolicited proposals. Corporate sector funding is frequently in the form of contract or collaborative agreements. Most large sponsors have set deadlines for submission of unsolicited proposals and published schedules for the review and notification process.

Types of Awards

Funding may take several forms. A few of the most common types are listed below. The list is not exhaustive, but all of the sponsored funding in the School of Medicine falls into one of these categories.

1. Contracts

Contracts are legal agreements used for procuring a specific service or product. (When another organization subcontracts to JHU, it is also a contract, but it is classified as a subcontract for record-keeping purposes.) In the case of fixed-price contracts, a set lump-sum payment is established in advance for performance of a specified set of tasks or delivery of a certain service (e.g., $/lab test per completed patient) and payment is limited to such price multiplied by the number of units performed. Cost-reimbursement contracts provide for payment of actual costs incurred, up to a ceiling amount equal to the total estimated cost stated in the contract. The contractor may discontinue work on the project after costs reach this upper limit, unless the sponsor increases the total contract. However, the reporting and record-keeping necessary to document the expenses on a cost-reimbursement contract usually outweigh the advantage of working with a more flexible cost ceiling.

2. Cooperative Agreements

This form of federal assistance involves both the Government and the grantee sharing responsibility for programmatic management of the project. Cooperative agreements anticipate "substantial federal involvement with the recipient during performance of the contemplated activity." Specific terms of collaboration are spelled out in individual agreements, which the ORA will review carefully with the investigator. In all other respects, cooperative agreements follow the policies applicable to grants.

3. Grants

Grants and Cooperative Agreements are usually awarded to support or assist projects whereas contracts procure a definite service or product. Grants are less restrictive than contracts, although technical and financial reports are generally required. Grants may be awarded by foundations, corporations or agencies of the federal government. Amounts and types of awards vary from sponsor to sponsor, and many agencies offer several sorts of grant opportunities.

Among the grants available from the National Institutes of Health, the major types are:

Research Project Grant (R01): awarded to an institution on behalf of a Principal Investigator to facilitate research in the area of an investigator's interest and competence.

Program Project Grant (P01): for support of a broadly-based, long- term research program involving several projects and investigators with a common objective.

Career Development Programs (K series)

Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01): provides investigators (Ph.D.s) or equivalent with additional sponsored experience in a research area new to the applicant or one that would enhance the applicant's scientific career. It replaces the earlier K01, and the K14, K17, and K21 awards.

Independent Scientist Award (K02): supports recently independent investigators (Ph.D. or equivalent) with outstanding potential to become future leaders in biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences. It replaces the earlier K02 and the K04 awards.

Senior Scientist Award (K05): provides support to senior investigators who are recognized leaders in their field, to enhance their skills and dedication to their research area.

Academic Career Award (K07): supports individuals who wish to develop expertise in a specific academic area; or, it can support acknowledged experts in developing curricula and research capacity within an academic institution.

Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08): supports clinicians who need an intensive period of mentored research experience. It replaces the earlier K08, the K11, K15, and K20 awards.

Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K12): an award to an educational institution to support career development award experiences for clinicians, leading to research independence (a variation of the K08). It replaces the earlier K12 and the K16 awards.

Mentored Patient-oriented Research Career Development Award (K23): an award to support the career development of investigators who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on patient-oriented research.

Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24): an award to provide support for clinicians to allow them protected time to devote to patient-oriented research and to act as mentors for beginning clinical investigators.

National Research Service Awards for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows (Individual NRSA) (F32): individual grants for specified training proposals in biomedical and behavioral research in areas of national need, selected as a result of a national competition.

National Research Service Awards for Institutional Training Grants (Institutional NRSA) (T32): Institutional grants for training of biomedical and behavioral scientists in areas of national need.
Refer to Appendix B for an extensive list of federal career development grant awards.

4. Fellowships

Individual fellowships may be awarded to support advanced or continued education in a given area of research. They are made available by a broad range of sponsors, including foundations, governmental agencies and professional societies.

5. Donations/Gifts

These are funds or tangible property provided to the University with no past, present or future benefit to the donor. The donor may stipulate that his/her contribution is to be used for a designated purpose, but detailed expenditure or technical reports are generally not required as a condition of the award. However, progress report letters are an expected courtesy.


  1. On-line Funding Websites
  2. Federal Agency Funding Sites
  3. Non-Federal Sponsor Funding Sites
  4. Funding Sources Administered by the ORA
  5. Other Sources for Funding
  6. Limited Submissions

 On-Line Funding Websites

  1. COS: The Community of Science is a database designed to help investigators identify and locate researchers with interests and expertise similar to their own. The database contains an on-line inventory of researchers, inventions, and facilities of leading U.S. and Canadian universities and other research and development organizations.

    IRIS (Illinois Research Information System): An on-line database, (nationally available by subscription) providing continually updated information on funding sources. IRIS includes summaries of all federal solicitations for contracts (RFPs - Requests for Proposals) that are advertised in the Commerce Business Daily.

    InfoEd: Info.Office SPIN.Plus is comprised of three modules, which include SPIN, GENIUS, and SMARTS. SPIN is an up-to-date listing of national and international government and private funding sources. It is the number one database of its kind, and is used by over 800 institutions worldwide. GENIUS is a searchable expertise profile system that currently contains faculty CVs; it will be expanded in the near future to contain facilities and institutional profiles.

    Welch Library: E-Databases & Literature Searching: Alphabetical List; List by Subject; List by Vendor (descriptions and access to over 100 resources).

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: Compiled by the Office of Management and Budget, the Catalog provides the user with access to all assistance and benefit programs of federal departments and agencies, including loans, subsidies and technical assistance programs. Program information is cross-referenced by agency, functional classification, subjects, eligible applicants, popular name, authorizing legislation and federal circular requirements.

    Commerce Business Daily: Daily list of U.S. Government procurement invitations, contract awards, subcontracting leads, sales of surplus property and foreign business opportunities.

    Federal Register: Publicizes regulations and legal notices issued by federal agencies. Includes announcements of grant availability and proposed and final issuances of administrative regulations.

    FEDIX (Federal Information Exchange) and MOLIS (Minority on-line Information Service): On-line information retrieval services providing information on Federal Government programs of interest to colleges and universities. Twelve key federal agencies use FEDIX as an outreach tool to communicate their new or upcoming opportunities, regulations and notices. MOLIS gears its information toward minorities at all institutions, including predominately minority institutions.

    The Foundation Directory: Describes non-federal, non-profit foundations with assets exceeding one million dollars, or which make grants of $500,000 or more annually.

    GrantsNet: A searchable, continuously updated database of funding opportunities in biomedical research and science education. It contains programs that offer training and research funding for graduate and medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty, as well as programs in science, math, engineering, and technology for undergraduate faculty and students.
  2. Federal Funding Sites:

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES : DHHS is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The following are the agencies of DHHS:

National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH has 17 separate institutes, and is the world's premier medical research organization. It supports some 35,000 research projects nationwide, in diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, arthritis, heart ailments and AIDS.

Guide For Grants and Contracts:
The National Institutes of Health and other constituent agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services provide much of the research support for School of Medicine faculty. The NIH Guide, a weekly publication of the National Institutes of Health, announces new NIH programs and deadlines, publicizes requests for proposals, and describes changes in guidelines. The weekly publication can be received through a weekly LISTSERV email. Sign up online .

Funding Grant Opportunities : Leads to information about NIH grants and fellowship programs.

Administration for Children and Families (ACF): Responsible for: programs which provide services and assistance to needy children and families, including administering the state-federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the national child support enforcement system, the Head Start program, providing funds to assist low-income families in paying for child care, and supporting state programs to provide for foster care and adoption assistance.

Administration on Aging (AOA): Supports a nationwide aging network that provides services to the elderly, especially those enabling them to remain independent.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): Supports research designed to improve the outcomes and quality of health care, reduce its costs, address patient safety and medical errors, and broaden access to effective services. The research sponsored, conducted, and disseminated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides information that helps people make better decisions about health care.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Works with states and other federal agencies to prevent exposure to hazardous substances from waste sites. The agency conducts public health assessments, health studies, surveillance activities, and health education training in communities around waste sites on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Provides a system of health surveillance to monitor and prevent the outbreak of diseases. With the assistance of states and other partners, CDC guards against international disease transmission, maintains national health statistics, provides for immunization services, and supports research into disease and injury prevention.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration) Administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which provide health care to America's aged and indigent populations. CMS also administers the new Children's Health Insurance Program through approved state plans.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Assures the safety of foods and cosmetics, and the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, biological products and medical devices.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Helps provide health resources for medically underserved populations. HRSA supports a nationwide network of community and migrant health centers, and primary care programs for the homeless and residents of public housing. HRSA also works to build the health care workforce, maintains the National Health Service Corps, oversees the nation's organ transplantation system, works to decrease infant mortality and improve child health, and provides services to people with AIDS through the Ryan White CARE Act programs.

Indian Health Service (IHS): Supports a network of hospitals, health centers, school health centers, health stations and urban Indian health centers to provide services to American Indians and Alaska Natives of federally recognized tribes.

Program Support Center (PSC) : A service-for-fee organization, utilizing a pioneering business enterprise approach to provide government support services throughout HHS as well as other Departments and Federal agencies. Administrative operations, financial management and human resources are solution- and customer-oriented, state-of-the-art and highly responsive to customer needs.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment, and mental health services.


Guide to Programs : A compilation of funding opportunities offered by the National Science Foundation for research and education in science, mathematics, engineering.

NSF E-Bulletin: The NSF E Bulletin is produced in a daily web-accessible electronic edition in order to provide the most accurate and timely information possible. Sign up online.

NSF FASTLANE is an interactive, real-time system used to conduct NSF business over the internet, including submission of grant applications. All FASTLANE users must have a PIN number and password, which can be obtained by contacting the Office of Research Administration at extension 2-7349. FASTLANE contains a number of helpful features, including:

  • Proposal preparation
  • Proposal Status
  • Revise Submitted Proposal Budget
  • Notifications & Requests
  • Continuation Funding Status
  • View/Print Award Letters
  • Project Reports System
  • Supplemental Funding Requests
  • Change PI Information

More information regarding FASTLANE features can be obtained online. Additional information regarding NSF proposal preparation can also be found online.


The Department of the Defense is requiring full electronic submission of applications for its Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, which include research in the areas of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, tuberous sclerosis complex, and neurofibromatosis. For more information see Section 3A.

Department of the Army : Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
Department of the Navy : Office of Naval Research

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA): NASA offices publishing their research announcements over the Internet.

3. Non-Federal Sites:

Alzheimer's Association : The Alzheimer's Association has a strong commitment to direct funding of research grants, in addition to a commitment to increase federal funding for Alzheimer research through public policy efforts.

American Cancer Society (ACS): The American Cancer Society (ACS) focuses its funding on investigator-initiated, peer-reviewed proposals. This process ensures that scientists propose projects that they believe are ready to be tackled with the available knowledge and techniques, rather than working on projects designed by administrators who are far removed from the front lines of research.

American Heart Association (AHA): The American Heart Association has many different types of funding.

March of Dimes (MOD): Research subjects appropriate for support by the March of Dimes include basic biological processes governing development, genetics, clinical studies, studies of reproductive health, environmental toxicology, and social and behavioral studies.

Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA): MDA is the world's largest non-governmental sponsor of research seeking the causes of and effective treatments for neuromuscular diseases, sponsoring some 400 research projects annually.

National Kidney Foundation (NKF): The National Kidney Foundation has embarked upon a new initiative to increase the support of clinical research through its Postdoctoral Fellowship, Young Investigator Grants and Clinical Scientist programs.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ):

Awards grants in two ways:

For RWJ competitive national programs, RWJ issues a call for proposals or other invitational announcement. The calls for proposals describe the problem to be addressed, what proposals should include, who is eligible to apply, how the selection process will work, and how to apply.

RWJ also funds unsolicited projects -- good ideas that come from the field. Grants for these projects are made throughout the year. There are no specific application forms or deadlines.

W.M. Keck Foundation: The W. M. Keck Foundation is one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations. Established in 1954 by the late William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company, the Foundation's grantmaking is focused primarily on the areas of medical research, science, and engineering.

World Health Organization (WHO): The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is an independent global program of scientific collaboration. Established in 1975 and co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), it aims to help coordinate, support and influence global efforts to combat a portfolio of major diseases of the poor and disadvantaged.

4.  Funding Sources Administered by ORA

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Clinician Scientist Career Development Awards:
To promote the research career development of young faculty physicians in clinical departments, these awards provide salary and fringe benefits up to $65,000/year (depending on whether the candidate has external support) for a maximum of two years. Deadlines, guidelines, and applications are available here. For additional information, contact the Secretary of the Committee, Michelle Linehan (ext. 5-8937).

Institutional Research Grant (IRG) Projects Committee:
Funds administered by this Committee are derived from restricted endowments. The Principal Investigator must have a fulltime faculty appointment at the School of Medicine. Awards are made for pilot studies and interim and emergency support of ongoing research projects. I.R.G. Projects Committee Guidelines can be found here. For additional information, contact the Secretary of the Committee, Joanne Frantz (Ext. 5-8921).

Fund for Medical Discovery: The Johns Hopkins Fund for Medical Discovery (FMD) was established to provide modest support for proposals typically not funded by extramural agencies or other funding programs of the School of Medicine. The primary goal of the FMD is to enhance interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research at Johns Hopkins. The highest priority will be given to proposals that clearly will lead to new extramural grant applications for core resources, shared instrumentation, program-projects, research centers, etc. For more information click here, or contact Karen Falter (X2-2132).

Tilghman Traveling Fellowship. Established in 1976 by Dr. and Mrs. R. Carmichael Tilghman, this traveling fellowship is to be awarded annually to young members of the Medical Faculty to assist them during a sabbatical leave of up to one year to travel outside the Baltimore area to pursue new theories, methods and techniques in their chosen discipline. For more information and application guidelines, click here.

5. Other Sources for Funding

The Office of Business Development (OBD) within the Division of Licensing and Technology Development (LTD) is responsible for cultivating new relationships between the School of Medicine and the corporate sector, including pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic companies, biotechnology companies, and venture capital firms. Such relationships might involve sponsored research, technology licensing, and start-up businesses. The primary goals are to promote the School of Medicine's research capabilities and generate new sources of revenue for the School of Medicine and faculty research.

Consequently, if you are interested in industrial collaborations, OBD might be able to assist you. It is important to keep in mind, however, that obtaining corporate support often requires long-term planning and efforts. In addition, OBD usually focuses on developing strategic alliances with companies that will support a number of related research projects at a substantial funding level. Thus, it is difficult for OBD to give a great deal of attention to smaller individual sponsored research proposals. Nevertheless, Deborah Day Barbara (, Senior Director for Technology Development (410-347-3222), welcomes all inquiries regarding possible corporate support.

If OBD cannot help you directly, OBD can refer you to other SOM offices that might be able to assist. For example, the Senior Director works closely with the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL), Office of Research Administration (ORA), Office of Policy Coordination Management (OPC), Office of the Vice Dean for Research and the Office of the General Counsel (GC). In addition, OBD has worked closely with several external groups on initiatives and programs that are of potential interest to the faculty and provide new support opportunities to the SOM research enterprise, including non-profit and for-profit companies, the State of Maryland, and the Federal Government.

 For more information on the role of OBD's sister office, the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL), please visit the OTL webpage.

Development Office (The Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine)

If the invited grant programs of topic- oriented foundations and disease- specific societies do not provide an opportunity for funding your project, the development officer assigned to your department may be able to suggest one or more small foundations as potential sponsors. Requests for assistance from your departmental development officer should be made through the office of your department director.

6. Limited Submissions

Many foundations allow only one proposal at a time to be submitted by the entire University at a time for various grant and fellowship programs. Accordingly, submission to such foundations requires institutional clearance. Faculty interested in submitting proposals to these foundations should contact Karen Falter (x2-2132) in the Office of Research Administration. An internal deadline will be determined and posted by the Office of the Vice Dean for Research for internal review of the proposals. The internal review will select the institution's nominee. Once notified, the selected nominee will submit the entire proposal to the Office of Research Administration for review and institutional approval.

NIH Advisory Committees: This book describes the NIH Peer Review System and the memberships of the advisory committees to the NIH. NIH recently discontinued the printed version of this periodical, but it can be accessed online.

CRISP: Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects is a scientific information system containing summaries of the research programs supported by PHS. Users can use the CRISP interface to search for scientific concepts, emerging trends and techniques, or identify specific projects and/or investigators. Most of the information contained in CRISP consists of abstracts and summaries of extramural grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements funded by NIH. The abstracts are gleaned from original and non-competing proposals.

Grant Application Writer's Handbook, Liane Reif-Lehrer, Ph.D., Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc., 1995. This handbook contains information about grant applications. It includes information on: writing the research plan; submitting and tracking the grant application; writing summary statements, rebuttals, and revisions; and other information. The 11 appendices include information on the NIH, the NSF, and advice on applying for foundation grants. (A copy of this publication is available at the Welch Library or at the Office of Research Administration.)

Helpful Hints on Preparing a Research Grant Application to the National Institutes of Health:
This website, prepared by the Grants Information Office, Division of Research Grants, contains suggestions based on the experience of the NIH staff to assist applicants in avoiding common errors on applications.

Helpful Hints on Preparing a Career Development application: These websites, prepared by The Grants Information Office, Division of Research Grants, contains useful hints to assist you in preparing an individual NRSA fellowship.

Grant Writing Workshop (410-502-2804): This course is designed to assist first time applicants with writing an NIH or other peer reviewed proposal. The workshop focuses on the actual writing of an application, including a detailed analysis of the major components of the NIH grant application. In addition, the workshop provides advice about when to seek grant support as well as how to identify appropriate sources. Sponsored by Professional Development and Career Office.

Welch Library Courses: All courses are free to employees, but registration is required.

C. Other Useful Information