In much the same way the Assisted Referral Tool can help you pick a study section, the Program Official option for NIH’s Matchmaker tool provides insight into the Program Officer who works with the most projects that look like yours.

To use it, visit the Matchmaker portion of NIH RePORTER. (New to RePORTER? Here’s how to find out a wealth of information about grants on your campus and elsewhere.) In the text box, you can enter a paper or grant abstract, or any other text you want to search on up to 15,000 characters. Click the “Similar Program Officials” button.

In a few moments, the system will return a list of up to 175 program officers, starting with those whose grant portfolio most closely matches the text you put in. Click on a name to bring up a list of the active grants for whom that person is the PO. Are they in the same ballpark as your research? Then go back to your search results and grab the email address of that PO to start a conversation.

Why might you want to talk to your PO before submitting a grant? Several reasons:

  • To find out if the institute is enthusiastic about your research area or if there might be a better fit.
  • To get clarification on which study section is ideal.
  • To confirm the appropriate FOA.
  • To get suggestions for alternative programs, FOAs, or institutes.
  • If you have questions about your budget or scope of work.

Also of note: Matchmaker will give you graphs of how many POs at each institute work with grants that look like yours, as well as how many of which grant mechanisms (R01, R03, K08, etc.) they handle.

Additional Resources

Harness the Immense Power of Nosiness in NIH RePORTER

Which Study Section Should I Pick? Try the Assisted Referral Tool!

Video: How to Use NIH Matchmaker

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