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Frequently Asked Questions: Shared and High-End Instrumentation Grant Programs

Q:          Are there active S10 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)?

A:          Yes, the active FOAs are:

             Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) Program: PAR-16-054

             High-End Instrumentation (HEI) Grant Program: PAR-16-053

             The receipt date is May 16, 2016; these FOAs expire on May 17, 2016.         


I. Preparing the Application

Instruments and their Administration

Q: Is there a list of eligible instruments for S10 applications?

A: Because of the evolving nature of the S10 program, there is no fixed list of eligible instruments.  Detailed information on types of supported instrumentation and on requests that will not be considered for funding are provided in Section I (Funding Opportunity Description) of the FOAs. We encourage applicants to contact the Program Officer with questions on instrumentation eligibility (see contact info at the bottom of this page).

Q: Can our institution lease the equipment before our S10 application is funded? How does this work?

A: Your institution may lease an instrument before the award is received, but only without obligation to buy. If the leasing agreement was executed more than one year prior to submission of the S10 application, the applicant should provide additional information demonstrating that the instrument remains state-of-the-art and the need for requested Federal funds remains. If the application is funded, the award will be adjusted based on the remaining balance required to purchase the instrument, as specified in the lease buyout table. This balance cannot exceed the fair market value of the instrument. An application will be eliminated from eligibility for an award if a purchase order or agreement is executed or a down payment or other formal commitment to purchase the equipment is made prior to award.

Q: Should the instrument be placed in a core facility?

A: Whenever possible, the S10 funded instrument should be integrated in a centralized core facility, to encourage optimal sharing among individual investigators, research groups, and departments, and to foster a collaborative multidisciplinary environment.

Q: In order to reduce user costs for the shared equipment, can an awardee allow any billable clinical use of the instrument?

A: Instruments awarded under the SIG program are awarded exclusively for use in biomedical research and cannot be used for billable clinical services.

Under the HEI program, a Special Use Instrument (SUI) application can be considered in rare circumstances. An Institution may contribute a portion of the cost of the requested SUI commensurate with the proposed use of the instrument for uses other than biomedical research. The applicants should carefully check the current FOA for details about the SUI requirements. In addition, we strongly encourage the applicants to contact the Program Officer and Grant Management Staff before requesting an SUI as SUIs must meet special administrative rules to be eligible for funding.

Principal Investigator, Other Users

Q: Does the PI of an S10 application need to have a funded NIH grant?

A: No, the PI of an S10 application does not need to have NIH-funded grant(s) or any other research support. However, the PI should demonstrate in the application that he/she has the relevant instrument expertise and is capable of performing the necessary scientific and administrative oversight responsibilities for the requested instrument.

Q. Who can be considered a Major User?

A: A Major User is an individual who has substantial need for the requested instrument, demonstrated by relevant research grant support as Principal Investigator. Eligible support mechanisms are not limited to NIH grants but Major Users must be engaged in biomedical research. However, there is an eligibility requirement for an S10 award of a Major User group with at least 3 Principal Investigators on NIH-funded grants (see the answer to the next question below for a further stipulation). Principal Investigators on grants supporting infrastructure, scientific meetings, training and other non-research activities are not eligible to be Major Users.

Q: Can a PI of a center grant be listed as a Major User?

A: The PI of a center grant can be listed as a Major User. However, only one PI of a research-related center grant (such as P01) can be listed as a Major User for the purposes of meeting the eligibility criteria, including those for the Major User Group (see below).

Q. How is the need for a specific instrument demonstrated? What are eligibility requirements for the Major User group?

A: The need for a specific instrument is demonstrated by the level of the Accessible User Time (AUT) requested by NIH-funded Principal Investigators. NIH-funded Major Users should need the instrument at the level of at least 35 percent of the AUT. In addition, the projects supported by active NIH research grants should together require 75 percent or more of the AUT.

Q: How should the Accessible User Time (AUT) be reported?

A: AUT should be reported in hours per year.

Note that the S10 Program Announcements defines the AUT as “the number of annual hours the instrument can be used for any research purpose”.

NIH recognizes that various instruments require different regular maintenance and calibration schedules. Also, different technologies dictate different experimental timelines or assistance needs of a qualified operator. Hence, AUT hours may be limited by the times an instrument operator is available (if an operator is required), site or building access schedules, estimated or scheduled maintenance, start-up and standardization, and any other factors that take time away from use of the instrument.  

Justify (table format is suggested) the AUT for the proposed instrument based on the individual situation at the applicant institution. AUT for the same instrument may differ among different institutions.

Q. Can the instrument be used by a biomedical researcher employed by a for-profit organization?

A: Yes. For-profit organizations are eligible to apply for research awards such as R01 or R21; hence, for example, a PI who is employed by a for-profit organization and is a recipient of an R01 can be a Major User of an S10 instrument.  Also, a biomedical researcher employed by a for-profit organization who does not have NIH funding may have access to an instrument funded by an S10 award, depending on specific management and administrative arrangements at the grantee institution.  However, NIH-funded researchers have the priority to use an S10-funded instrument.

Institution Eligibility

Q. Can for–profit, Federal or foreign organizations apply for an S10 award?

A: No, for-profit, Federal and foreign institutions are not eligible to apply.

Institutional Letter of Support: Table of Previous S10 Awards

Q: Is the Institutional Letter of Support with a table describing performance for previously awarded S10s for the entire institution or can the list encompass just the department or division requesting a new instrument?

A: S10 grants awarded to the submitting institution (i.e. departments or divisions with the same DUNS number) must be included in the table listing the previous awards.

Q: How far back should the S10 awards table go?

A: As indicated in the FOA, any S10 instruments awarded or installed within the previous five years must be included in the table. For example, for the receipt date in May 2016, the table should listed all S10 awards received in FYs 2011 – 2015.

Q: What is the structure of the S10 Awards Table?

The Table should have 9 columns with headings as outlined below. For items 5 and 8, please use one of the provided categories:

  1. Grant Number (e.g. S10 OD023456)
  2. Fiscal Year of Award
  3. Name of the PI
  4. Generic Name of Instrument (e.g. Mass Spectrometer, NMR, Confocal Microscope)
  5. Instrument Status (please enter one of the following options): Active (instrument in use), Pending (order placed but instrument not delivered, instrument received but not installed or not calibrated for general use), Upgraded (or replaced), Not Available (sold, decommissioned, transferred)
  6. Actual Usage Time (Actual Accessible User Time); Report actual total time in hours per year the instrument was used for research. If the instrument has been installed less than a year ago, the hours can be extrapolated for an estimate of hours per full year.
  7. Maintenance Agreement (please enter one of the following options): Active (Warranty in place), In-House (or Self-Insured), None (Fee for Service, Pending), Not Available (no longer supported by manufacturer)
  8. Number of S10 Publication citing this S10 award or publications which reported discoveries enabled by this S10 instrument.


Grant Number

Fiscal Year  of Award



Generic Name of Instrument



Actual Usage Time


Maintenance Agreement

Number of Publications Related to this S10 Instrument

S10 OD023456









S10 OD023788






Fee for Service


S10 OD023654



Confocal Microscope





S10 OD023653



Robotic Assay System





* This instrument was traded-in for an updated robotic assay system purchased with institutional funds.

Q: There is a reference in the FOA to providing supplementary text related to this table. When is this text required?

A: Supplementary text is only required if the awarded instrument is currently non-functional. Occasionally, other explanatory text may be added if the applicant deems it appropriate (i.e., if there is no maintenance contract since expert self-maintenance is available or if the number of citations is unusually low for the instrument, etc.). Please keep any explanatory text to a minimal length of a sentence or two.

Q: What if the S10 is not cited in any publications, but users have published with data obtained through the S10 instrument?

A: Please provide an estimate of the number of publications that have data from the S10 instrument.

Institutional Letter of Support to Back-up the Financial Plan

Q: Are matching funds required?

A: Matching instrument purchase funds are not required by the FOA. However, the institution may decide to provide additional funds towards the purchase of the instrument as part of its institutional support. The institutional commitment letter of support, to back-up the financial plan for the operation of the awarded instrument for its expected lifetime, is described in the FOA and may include, but is not limited to, preparation of the instrument site, instrument operation, maintenance, and supplies.

Q: How is “the effective lifetime” of an instrument determined?

A: It is expected that “the effective lifetime” of an instrument will depend on the type of instrument. The FOA asks an institution for a commitment to back up the financial plan for support of the instrument for five years or “the effective lifetime”. A Study Section will evaluate whether the commitment period is appropriate.

II. Submission and Review of the Application


Q: When should I submit my application?

A: You should submit your application electronically several days prior to the required application receipt date so that you can make corrections if any sections were not received. It is not possible to make corrections after the receipt deadline date.

Q: My application is going to be late for the receipt date. What can I do?

A: The S10 program FOAs set a receipt date and the NIH expects that applications will be submitted on time. However, according to NIH Policy for Late Application submissions (NOT-OD-15-039), NIH may consider applications submitted within a two week window after the submission deadline but only under the conditions defined in this Notice. The applicant should check the eligibility requirements in the Notice for late submission before considering sending the application late.

Before Review

Q: Who will review my application?

A: The Center of Scientific Review (CSR) will convene a Special Emphasis Panel. The applicants can access the name and contact information of the Scientific Review Officer (SRO), the date of the meeting, and (30 days before the meeting) the roster on their eRA Commons account.

Q: Can I submit supplemental materials before the application is reviewed?  To whom should I send the documents?

A: Late submission of grant application material is severely restricted. No missing pages or sections will be accepted as late submission materials. Please see NOT-OD-13-030 for additional information. 

III. Post-Review and Post-Award

Post Review

Q: Is there a percentile for S10 applications?

A: There is no percentile rank for S10 applications.

Q: I saw my score on eRA Commons yesterday.  When can I call or make an appointment to discuss with the Program Officer?

A: The Summary Statement, which provides detailed critiques of your application, will be available on the eRA Commons portal 2-4 weeks after the Review meeting.  You are strongly advised to read your Summary Statement before contacting the Program Officer. The Program Officer will not be able to provide information to you prior to release of your Summary Statement.

Q: I want to appeal the review for my application.  What should I do and how late can I submit the appeal document to be included in the Council meeting?

A: If you have specific concerns about the review of your application, you are encouraged to contact your Program Officer as soon as you read your summary statement and identify concerns to discuss your options. After such discussion, you may choose to submit a written appeal to the Program Officer, signed by the Authorized Official for your Institution. The NIH policy statement on the Appeal Process is defined in the NIH Director Notice NOT-OD-11-064. According to the ORIP procedures, an appeal letter must be received at least 20 working days before the Council of Councils meeting at which your application will be reviewed. 

Q: I received a Just-in-Time request and see a JIT link on my eRA Commons.  Does this mean my application is under funding consideration?

A: Just in Time notifications are automatically generated by eRA Commons and do not apply to the S10 program.  You do not need to submit any information in response to that automated JIT email message.  Applicants under consideration for funding will be contacted by Program Officers for updated information from the e-mail address  S10 updated information includes a (new) valid quote, justification of any modifications of the instrument requested, responses to the weaknesses cited in the summary statement and the need of the instrument to support Users’ research projects. The eligibility requirement to support NIH-funded research projects must be met at the time an application is submitted and when an application is considered for funding, based on the JIT update. This update should also include information about HIV/AIDS related projects, if any.

Q: What if the updated quote is higher than the quote in the application?

A: Typically, we fund awards at the level approved by the Study Sections, provided that other budgetary constraints are met.

Q: My application was not funded.  What can I do next?

A: The applicant may consider resubmitting an application, after addressing the reviewers’ comments.  Alternatively, the applicant may submit a new application. In such case the narrative mustn’t refer to previous review.


Q: What documents must I prepare and whom should I contact to initiate a Change of PI request?

A: A letter signed by the current PI and authorized institutional business official, including reasons for the change and the proposed effective date of change, and the biosketch of the new PI are needed to initiate the process.  These documents should be sent to the Grants Management Specialist and copied to the Program Officer listed on your Notice of Award.

Q: The PI of the S10 grant is moving to another institution.  Can the S10 grant/equipment move with the PI?

A: The PI must contact their Program Officer and the Office of Grants Management to discuss the possibility of relocation of the instrument. The Internal Advisory Committee, as well as both institutions involved, must approve such relocation. Considerations must include the needs of the user group noted in the application and those of the proposed new user group at the accepting institution.

Q. What types of changes require pre-approval from the NIH?

A: Pre-approval from both the Program Officer and the Office of Grants Management is required for the following changes: relocation of the instrument inside the institution (i.e., assigned to a different core facility or different school within the institution); relocation of the instrument to another institution; change of PD/PI; trade-in, sale or other disposition of the awarded instrument; shut-down of an instrument that was installed less than five years ago. Any of these changes also require approval of the internal Advisory Committee for the instrument.

Contact Information

Abraham Levy, Ph.D.
Division of Construction and Instruments (DCI)
Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)
The Office of the Director, NIH (OD)
6701 Democracy Boulevard, Room 970
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4874

Phone: 301-435-0777

 Alena Horska, Ph.D.
Division of Construction and Instruments (DCI)
Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)
The Office of the Director, NIH (OD)
6701 Democracy Boulevard, Room 975
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4874

Phone: 301-435-0815




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