Letters of Intent

Some funding opportunities suggest that you send a letter of intent before you apply. Learn below why the letter helps, what to include, and your timing.

Why Send a Letter of Intent?

Although letters of intent are not required or binding, we strongly advise you to submit one If your chosen notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) or notice of special interest (NOSI) requests one.

The information in your letter allows NIAID staff to plan the peer review panel and identify any unique scientific expertise that needs to be included. Reviewers will not see your letter of intent, so it won’t affect how they score your application.

In addition, your letter may help NIAID staff spot potential issues you need to address before you apply, especially if you include the additional information we suggest below.

Whether you choose to send a letter of intent or not, at least 12 weeks before you apply, we advise you to contact the NIH scientific program officials listed for your NOFO or in your area of science. They can advise you on your application plans, note special requirements, and forewarn you about mandatory prior approvals. Find contacts and instructions at When To Contact an NIAID Program Officer.

What To Include in a Letter of Intent

If your chosen opportunity specifies letter instructions, follow them. Letters of intent typically include the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed research
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the principal investigator(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institutions
  • Number and title of the NOFO

Beyond the items specified by the instructions, consider including additional details in your letter of intent that could help NIAID staff spot issues or advise you further. Here are a few examples:

  • Include a concise description of your proposed project. Our staff may discern whether your research is a good fit for NIAID or the NOFO. They may advise you about other relevant opportunities or concerns worth addressing before you apply.
  • Describe how your plans relate to areas of Research With Special Considerations such as human subjects, clinical, or animal research. That can help NIAID staff spot whether your analysis of the NIH definitions or exceptions seems to match.
  • Specify the pathogens you plan to study, if any. NIAID staff can compare that with any opportunity-specific requirements about the type of pathogen.

Timing for Letters of Intent

Most NIH institutes ask prospective applicants to submit letters of intent 30 days before the application due date. Check your chosen NOFO or NOSI to see if it lists a due date for letters of intent. However, if you can send your letter of intent early, go ahead and do so.

More Information

Find our central list of Types of Letters for Grant Applications.

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