Electronic Submission

Most Meharry Medical College awards are from the Department of Health and Human Services and in particular the National Institutes of Health. Follow the steps below to submit an application through grants.gov to NIH and other federal agencies.

GETTING STARTED

Register on the eRA Commons.   The eRA Commons is a section of the NIH website that NIH will use to communicate the status of your application to you.  Contact Grants Management for information on registering with the eRA Commons. After you register, practice navigating the Commons.

Install Adobe Reader. Adobe Reader, which is free for download, enables you to view PDFs (portable document files) on your computer. This is the format of much of the content you will be viewing on the web.

Install Adobe Acrobat Professional on your computer.  Adobe Acrobat Professional is the most common software for converting Word and other files to PDF; NIH and many other research sponsors require you to submit your application in PDF format.  Contact the Office of Information Technology for ordering the program. You will need an account for payment or you must purchase it through your department.

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BEGIN THE APPLICATION

Search for the grant announcement at grants.gov.  Go to www.grants.gov and click on “Grant Search.” Grants.gov is the web site for all grant applications to the federal government.  IGNORE ANY  GRANTS.GOV INSTRUCTIONS THAT SAY YOU MUST REGISTER.  MEHARRY IS REGISTERED AS AN INSTITUTION, SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO REGISTER AS AN INDIVIDUAL.

Find the grant announcement on grants.gov.   Grants.gov lets you search by announcement number and by key word.   If you don’t know the number for your grant announcement—the “Funding Opportunity Number”—search for it by key word.

Download the instructions.  Click on  “Download” at the right of the menu bar, under “Instructions and Application.” Next, click on “Download Application Instructions.”  Sometimes this document is very long; sometimes it’s a single sheet with links to other sites that contain all of the instructions.  Save it on your computer.

Notify the Grants Management Office that you plan to submit an application by e-mailing the GMO Director or calling 6703; do this at least one month before the sponsor’s deadline.  The preferable scenario would be to notify the Grants Management Office at the same time you decide to apply for the application, which could be two to three months before the deadline, or at the time you send a letter of intent to the sponsoring agency. Tell the Grants Management Office the opportunity number, title, sponsor, and deadline of the grant for which you are applying.  The Meharry Grants Review Officer will meet with you to explain how the application will be submitted; briefly, GMO will create a folder for you on the college’s Carpenter server.  The GMO staff will download the application, complete the routine administrative sections of the application, and notify you when that work is complete.

Prepare the budget. The Grants Review Officer will send you a budget template for the internal budget. Submit a rough draft of the budget and budget justification to the office. The officer will check the budget for compliance with Meharry and sponsor guidelines, confer with you until a mutual agreement on the budget is reached, and then enter the budget into the grants.gov application.

Meanwhile, in Microsoft Word, divide the grant file into the sections specified on the application form. Divide the text of the application into separate files as specified on the application form. For example, the application package may require separate files for the abstract, narrative, references, equipment, facilities,  biographical sketch form, specific aims, and research strategy, etc. Save each file.

Convert the grant files into PDF format. Open each newly created file.  Click on “Print” and select “Adobe PDF” as the printer; doing so will NOT print the files but will instead convert them to PDF format. Save the PDF files along with your Word files. You will upload the files with your application when it is complete.

Get your chair’s approval.  After you write the application and upload all files, complete a Grant Submission Form; sign it, give it to your chair with a copy of the application, and ask him or her to review the application and sign the Grant Submission Form when all is in order. The application can be viewed on line, and the form can be emailed to Meharry’s Grants Management Office.

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PROPOSAL GUIDELINES

The sponsoring agency guidelines are the best source of information for much of the proposal writing process i.e., formatting, page limitations, periods of performance, dollar limits on awards. It is your responsibility to check the sponsor guidelines for submission restrictions. It is your responsibility to check the budget and agency guidelines for compliance with Meharry facility and administrative policies as well.

Examples of page limitations for NIH projects are found below. Please note that the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) instructions always supersede these page limits; therefore, be sure to check the FOA for any exception. The page limits are organized by Activity Code.

If in doubt about sponsor requirements, contact the Grants Management Office. It is the principal investigator's responsibility for ensuring all proposals submitted to external sponsors for funding comply with Meharry and sponsor requirements.

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COMPLETED APPLICATION

Once the application is complete, the Grants Management Office will obtain Authorized Organizational Representative approval and submit the application to grants.gov.

Note your tracking number. Once the application is submitted and received by the sponsor, grants.gov will send an acknowledgement, tracking number, and other messages to the Grants Management Office, which will send these messages along to you. 

Get a receipt from the eRA Commons.  After it receives your application, grants.gov transmits it to NIH; NIH assembles the separate files it receives from grants.gov into a single document and e-mails you a receipt that directs you to the eRA Commons to check the status of your application. You must track the rest of your submission to NIH in eRA Commons.

Inspect any warning in the eRA Commons.  Open the link shown on your receipt to learn the status of your application. Often the status message in the Commons will contain a series of warnings. Warnings do not halt NIH’s review of your application and are usually trivial; for example, the warning may say that the academic position/title you listed in your application does not correspond to the one stored in the Commons database. This typically happens if you are promoted but do not update your personal profile in the eRA Commons.

Respond to any errors on eRA Commons and resubmit the application through the Grants Management Office. If the message on the Commons contains errors, you must address them or NIH will not accept your application. Notify the Grants Management Office immediately that your application contains errors. You must correct the error by the sponsor’s deadline and resubmit the application through the Grants Management Office.


MORE INFORMATION 

For a detailed account of NIH’s  procedures for electronic submission, go to NIH Office of Extramural Research: Applying Electronically.