New Program Aims to Help Rejected NIH Grants Find Funding

In 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) rejected 42,500 grant proposals, leaving researchers to search for other sources of funding. A new program, the Online Partnership to Accelerate Research (OnPAR), aims to match previously denied research with new funding sources.

OnPAR is a collaboration between the NIH and Leidos (a defense, engineering, and health contractor). The program allows researchers to upload rejected NIH proposals to an online portal that connects them to potential funders, such as nonprofit foundations or investors from private companies. Funders can review NIH reviewer scores and comments on the grants, then decide whether to further fund the research.

“NIH [applications] are just brutal to put together, and this is a chance to at least derive additional value from these things that otherwise kind of just die on people’s computers,” said E. Ray Dorsey, MD, MBA, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

The year-long pilot program was launched on a small scale in March with seven nonprofit foundations participating, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Children’s Tumor Foundation. It remains to be seen if other foundations and private funders will see value in using OnPAR in addition to their existing grant review process. Leidos recommends that researchers with relevant proposals scoring in the 30th percentile to submit their abstracts, which will first be curated by Leidos. For more information, visit

The American Society of Hematology’s Bridge Grant Program also helps blood disease researchers who have submitted research proposals that, despite earning high scores during the review process, have not been funded by the NIH. These one-year, $150,000 awards are designed to provide critical interim support to help investigators sustain their laboratories and staff in order to gather additional data and ultimately obtain an NIH grant. For more information about ASH’s Bridge Grant Program, visit

Source: Science, March 23, 2016.