1) Patient-oriented research. Research conducted with human subjects (or on material of human origin such as tissues, specimens, and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator (or colleague) directly interacts with human subjects. Excluded from this definition are in vitro studies that utilize human tissues that cannot be linked to a living individual. It includes: (a) mechanisms of human disease, (b), therapeutic interventions, (c) clinical trials, or (d) development of new technologies.
2) Epidemiological and behavioral studies.
3) Outcomes research and health services research
Studies falling under 45 CFR 46.101(b) (4) (Exemption 4) are not considered clinical research by this definition.
See Common Rule definition of research at 45 CFR 46.102(d)
See Common Rule definition of human subject at 45 CFR 46.102(f)
The term "prospectively assigned" refers to a pre-defined process (e.g., randomization) specified in an approved protocol that stipulates the assignment of research subjects (individually or in clusters) to one or more arms (e.g., intervention, placebo or other control) of the clinical trial.
An intervention is defined as a manipulation of the subject or subject's environment for the purpose of modifying one or more health-related processes and/or endpoints. Examples include, but are not limited, to: drugs/small molecules/compounds, biologics, devices; procedures (e.g., surgical techniques); delivery systems (e.g., telemedicine, face-to-face); strategies to change health-related behavior (e.g., diet, cognitive therapy, exercise, development of new habits); and, treatment, prevention, and diagnostic strategies.
A health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome is defined as the pre-specified effect of an intervention on the study subjects. Examples include positive or negative changes to physiological or biological parameters (e.g., improvement of lung capacity, gene expression); psychological or neurodevelopmental parameters (e.g., mood management intervention for smokers; reading comprehension and/or information retention); disease processes; health-related behavior; and, well-being or quality of life
Biomedical clinical trials of an experimental drug, treatment, device, or behavioral intervention may proceed through four phases:
Phase I. Tests a new biomedical intervention in a small group of people (e.g. 20-80) for the first time to determine efficacy and evaluate safety (e.g., determine a safe dosage range and identify side effects).
Phase II. Study the biomedical or behavioral intervention in a larger group of people (several hundred) to determine efficacy and further evaluate safety.
Phase III. Study to determine efficacy of the biomedical or behavioral intervention in large groups of people (from several hundred to several thousand) by comparing the intervention to other standard or experimental interventions as well as to monitor adverse effects, and to collect information that will allow the interventions to be used safely.
Phase IV. Studies conducted after the intervention has been marketed. These studies are designed to monitor the effectiveness of the approved intervention in the general population and to collect information about any adverse effects associated with widespread use.
Competing applications are applications for a new, renewal, or resubmission research project grants(RPG), including R01s, R21s, and related mechanisms, that require competitive peer review
Early Established Investigator (EEI)
Early Stage Investigator (ESI)
Early Stage Investigator ESI
An Early Stage Investigator is a Program Director / Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award. See our list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered an ESI. For more information, please click here.
Independent Clinical Trial
An independent clinical trial is one for which the researcher proposing the study has primary or lead responsibility for conducting and executing the trial. NIH policy permits individual career development awardees and individuals appointed to institutional career development awards to be involved in a range of clinical trial activities, including leading independent clinical trials. For NRSA trainees or fellows, however, NIH policy precludes leading an independent clinical trial as part of their training experience. Instead, NRSA trainees and fellows interested in clinical trials may gain clinical trial research experience by working on a trial led by their mentor or another investigator.
In giving informed consent, people may not waive legal rights or release or appear to release an investigator or sponsor from liability for negligence. Go to 21 CFR 50.20 and 50.25
Institute or Center (IC)
The NIH organizational component responsible for a particular grant program or set of activities. The terms "NIH IC" or "awarding IC" are used throughout this document to designate a point of contact for advice and interpretation of grant requirements and to establish the focal point for requesting necessary prior approvals or changes in the terms and conditions of award.
Institutional Review Board
NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Notices posted in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts that succinctly highlight a specific topic of interest, for example a specific area of research or program. These notices direct applicants to one or more active funding opportunity announcements (often parent announcements) for submission of applications for the initiative described. Many program announcements will be issued as Notices of Special Interest going forward.
An application may be designated Not Recommended for Further Consideration (NRFC) by the Scientific Review Group if it lacks significant and substantial merit; presents serious ethical problems in the protection of human subjects from research risks; or presents serious ethical problems in the use of vertebrate animals, biohazards, and/or select agents. Applications designated as NRFC do not proceed to the second level of peer review (National Advisory Council/Board) because they cannot be funded.
Office of Research Integrity
Peer Review Criteria
Planned Enrollment Report
A PA is a formal statement about a new or ongoing extramural activity or program. It may serve as a reminder of continuing interest in a research area, describe modification in an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support. Most applications in response to PAs may be submitted to a standing submission date and are reviewed with all other applications received at that time using standard peer review processes. NIH may also make funds available through PARs (PAs with special receipt, referral, and/or review considerations) and PASs (PAs with set-aside funds).
PAs may be used for any support mechanism other than construction awards. Unless otherwise specified in the PA, new applications (and associated renewal and revision applications) submitted in response to PAs are treated as investigator-initiated. PAs also are used to annually solicit applications for the SBIR and STTR programs. Those applications must be received by the dates specified in the PA.
Public Access Policy
Research & Development
All research activities, both basic and applied, and all development activities that are performed by HHS award recipients. The term research also includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function. "Research" is defined as a systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. "Development" is the systematic use of knowledge and understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes.
Research and Development Contract
Major extramural research grants awarded to institutions, hospitals, and other research organizations, including small businesses, to support circumscribed research led by investigators, create developmental opportunities, and to provide research related resources under programs such as Research Careers, Research Centers, Research Projects, SBIR/STTRs, and Other Research.
Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reporting research, or in reporting research results.
- Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
- Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that research is not accurately represented in the research record.
- Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
- Research misconduct does not include honest error or honest differences of opinion.