National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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Information for Applicants From Foreign Institutions

Are foreign institutions eligible to receive grant funding from NCCAM/NIH?
  • Foreign institutions may apply for direct funding under selected grant mechanisms and initiatives at NCCAM/NIH.
  • Foreign institutions may also receive support through subcontracts or consortium agreements, as collaborators of investigators at U.S. institutions.

Grants Awarded Directly to Foreign Institutions

What kinds of grants made directly to foreign institutions does NCCAM support?
  • Unless specifically excluded by Program Announcements (PAs) or Requests for Applications (RFAs), foreign institutions are eligible to apply for most types of investigator-initiated research project grants (the R03, R21 and R01 mechanisms).
  • In all cases, PAs and RFAs should be thoroughly read, particularly the “Eligible Institutions” section, in order to accurately assess the eligibility of foreign institutions for specific grant mechanisms and initiatives. Specific advice can be obtained from the program directors designated in the RFA or PA.
For what kinds of grants are foreign institutions ineligible for direct support from NCCAM?

Foreign institutions are not eligible for:

  • Institutional National Research Service Awards (NRSAs) (T32 mechanism);
  • Program project grants (P01 mechanism);
  • Center grants (P20, P30, and P50 mechanisms);
  • Resource grants (R24 and P41 mechanisms);
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants (R43 and R44 mechanisms);
  • Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants (R41 and R42 mechanisms);
  • Construction grants (C06 mechanism); and
  • Conference grants (R13 mechanism).

Funding Through Collaborations and Consortia

How else may foreign institutions be supported?
Foreign institutions may also receive NIH/NCCAM support as foreign components of a grant made to a U.S.–based institution. In this case, funding occurs through a sub-contract from the grant. A “foreign component” consists of a significant element or segment of a project that is performed outside of the U.S., either by the grantee or by a researcher employed by a foreign institution, whether or not grant funds are expended.
What advantages exist in partnering with a U.S. based institution?
The NIH grant application and review process is complex. It is also highly competitive (e.g., see information about NCCAM’s funding strategy, including the “success” rate for grant applications at: nccam.nih.gov/grants/strategy. The likelihood of success in this process is highly dependent on experience. For these reasons, many foreign investigators choose to work in a collaborative partnership with a U.S. investigator, who has a successful record of obtaining NIH funding and who can provide sound advice regarding the proposed research plan and grant application.
How may a foreign institution identify a skilled U.S. based investigator who may be interested in partnering on a NCCAM/NIH grant application?

The first step is to establish a collaborative relationship with a U.S.–based investigator who has the requisite scientific experience and skills, and who is interested in the type of study envisioned. Potential collaborators can sometimes be found through:

  • Professional conferences or associations;
  • PubMed searches;
  • RePORTER, an electronic tool that allows users to search a repository of NIH-funded research projects and access publications and patents resulting from NIH funding.

Requirements for Foreign Applicants

What should foreign applicants know about the review process at NIH?
Information about the review process can be found at public.csr.nih.gov/ApplicantResources/InitialReviewResultsAppeals.
Are there special requirements of foreign applicants during the review process?

Applications from foreign institutions or international organizations will be evaluated and scored during the initial review process using standard NIH review criteria. In addition, the following will be assessed as part of the review process and award decision:

  • Whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily accessible in the U.S., or that augment existing U.S. resources;
  • Whether the proposed project has specific relevance to the mission and objectives of NCCAM and has the potential for significantly advancing the health sciences in the U.S.

Research grant applications from foreign or international organizations must also be specifically approved for funding by NCCAM’s National Advisory Council.

In addition, clearance by the U.S. Department of State may be required. Please also note that there are special requirements where foreign institutions in Brazil and India are concerned.

What U.S. Government policy requirements apply to grants made to foreign institutions or international organizations?
A complete listing of public policy requirements and objectives, and their applicability to foreign grants, is included in “Public Policy Requirements and Objectives” of the NIH Grants Policy Statement (12/03). (Please see Exhibit 2.)
Are the same costs allowable under foreign and domestic grants?

In general, the costs that are allowable under grants to domestic U.S. organizations are also allowable under foreign grants, with the following exceptions:

  • Alteration and Renovation (A&R). Unallowable under foreign grants and domestic grants with foreign components.
  • Customs and import duties. Unallowable under foreign grants and domestic grants with foreign components. This includes consular fees, customs surtax, value-added taxes, and other related charges.
  • Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs. With the exception of American University of Beirut and the World Health Organization, full F&A costs will not be allowed. However, NIH provides limited F&A costs (8 percent of total direct costs less equipment) to foreign institutions and international organizations to support the costs of compliance with NIH requirements including, but not limited to, protection of human subjects, animal welfare, and research misconduct. NIH will not support the acquisition of, or provide for depreciation on, any capital expenditures, or support the normal, general operations of foreign and international organizations.

Foreign National Scientists at Foregin Institutions

Is it possible for foreign national scientists to study or conduct research on-site at NCCAM/NIH?
Training opportunities for foreign national scientists are available through the NIH Visiting Program. More information can be found at: dis.ors.od.nih.gov/visitingprogram/01_vpmain.html. The Visiting Program is open to scientists at all career levels. There are two categories of program participants, Visiting Fellows, who receive awards for research training, and Visiting Scientists, who receive appointments to conduct research.
Are foreign national scientists eligible for NCCAM/NIH training and career development awards at foreign institutions?
No. Eligibility for the National Research Service Award (NRSA) for predoctoral (F31 mechanism), postdoctoral (F32 mechanism), and senior (F33 mechanism) fellowships requires that the applicant be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national of the U.S., or have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence by the time of award. Career awards (K mechanisms) are also only available to those detailed above.
Where may foreign national scientists learn about other grant and fellowship opportunities at the NIH for which they may be eligible?
NIH’s Fogarty International Center (FIC) promotes and supports scientific research and training internationally to reduce disparities in global health. Its Web site can be searched to learn more about research and training opportunities for which foreign national scientists may be eligible: www.fic.nih.gov.
Where may foreign national scientists learn about non-NIH grant and fellowship opportunities for which they may be eligible?
The Directory of International Grants and Fellowships in the Health Sciences is a potential resource.

Other Resources

Can NCCAM conduct an independent investigation of a product on which I am working (for instance, screening of a compound for in vitro or in vivo activity)?

In general, NCCAM does not conduct such investigations. NCCAM predominantly relies on investigators to submit competitive grant applications or collaborate with private industry in this regard. In exceptional cases (i.e. where preliminary data are especially compelling and the implications for global health are substantial) NCCAM may be able to facilitate the identification of collaborators who can provide assistance.

Where preliminary data are especially compelling, inquiries may be directed to the relevant NCCAM program directoridentified at: nccam.nih.gov/grants/contact. Investigators should be prepared to submit, if requested by the NCCAM program director, detailed pre-clinical or clinical data and other information to allow an analysis of the claim’s merits. The requests and accompanying data would be treated as proprietary and confidential by NCCAM, and a Disclosure Agreement could be signed upon request.

Additionally, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) support resources that may be of interest.

  • NCI’s Developmental Therapeutics Program operates an anti-cancer screening program that is detailed at: dtp.nci.nih.gov/docs/rand/rand_index.html.
  • NIAID’s Resource Guide for the Development of AIDS Therapies contains information about resources to assist investigators in developing therapies for the treatment of HIV disease, opportunistic infections, tuberculosis and microbicide-based prevention strategies. Information can be found at: www.niaid.nih.gov/labsandresources/resources/atrg.