Ultimate Guide to Writing NIH Grants



Anyone who plans to build a successful career in health research is going to want to establish a track record with the National Institutes of Health. Knowing how to write a compelling, fundable NIH grant is pretty much non-negotiable.

Except...when’s the last time you got any training on how to write a grant proposal? Or, um, how to write?

There’s a lot of strategy and technique that goes into writing a funded NIH grant— strategy and technique that most folks learn by trial and error. Many early career researchers are taught to expect that it will take several tries, and possibly several years, to get funded. I’m not saying that’s bad advice—it’s actually really good advice. But I’m saying that you may be able to cut down on some of the trial and error by learning some basic grant writing principles and learning how to apply those principles to every grant you write.

A lot of researchers assume that the key to a successful NIH grant proposal is a strong Approach section: you describe your (brilliant) study idea, and if it’s among the best 15-20% of ideas, you get funded.


Having a strong study design and research approach is absolutely essential to your success, but it’s only one small part of the overall picture. To even be considered for funding you need to make sure that you’ve covered all your bases. That includes the quality, clarity, and persuasiveness of your proposal as a whole. Most researchers underestimate how important this is to their application’s success.

This guide will teach you the skills, techniques, and strategies you need to write an NIH grant proposal that gets competitive scores and persuades your reviewers to recommend you for funding. This guide focuses on the strategies that will set you up for success. (We’re starting with the assumption that you have a genius study idea and approach...this guide will teach you how to present it in the most compelling way possible)

So how do you write a great NIH grant proposal?

With planning, strategy, and persuasiveness. And that starts with a phase you might not expect.

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