MRF Grants FAQ

Applicant Qualification Questions

I am a post-doctoral fellow; what MRF grant can I apply for?

Early Clinical Investigator (ECI). The postdoc will apply as PI, and their mentor should submit all items listed in the guidelines separately.

I am an associate professor; do I qualify for a New Investigator Award or an Early Clinical Investigator Award (ECI)?

No, an associate professor does not qualify for either award.

Do assistant professors qualify for New Investigator Awards?


I am a research assistant professor; can I apply for the New Investigator Grant (NI)?

Yes, research assistant professors can apply for the New Investigator Grant (NI), but the applicant needs to show independence from their lab head and have strong departmental support for an independent career (e.g. startup funds, salary support, and protected time).

Is the MRF New Investigator Award an appropriate mechanism for faculty who currently have a NIH K-award or a VA career development award?

Yes, faculty who currently have a K-award qualify to apply for an MRF New Investigator Award.

R00? R03? R21?

Yes, faculty with an R00, R03 or R21 qualify to apply for an MRF New Investigator Award. Generally speaking, we follow NIH early stage investigator policies.

Support Letter Questions

I have two mentors and have obtained a letter of support from both mentors. Can two letters of support be submitted?

Yes, a letter of support submitted from both mentors is acceptable. In your application, be sure to include the CVs (biosketches) of the mentor/collaborators writing your letters of support.

Are mentor biosketches required for ECI applications?

Yes; please have your mentor submit a biosketch along with the mentor letter and form (see guidelines as to required content of mentor letter).

I am applying for the ECI grant; do I still need to submit two letters of support (one from my mentor and one from my department chair) if my mentor is my department chair?

It is acceptable to have one letter submitted from the department chair/mentor. Just make sure the applicant explains this in their application so reviewers are aware. Also be sure to email and explain this to prevent any confusion over a missing letter.

Funding Questions

Can MRF funding be used to support faculty salary?

The funding is meant to be used for lab personnel salary and supplies. You can include PI salary in the budget if well justified, but it is viewed negatively by some reviewers as it shows a lack of support from the lab.

What does salary justification entail?

MRF grants are not designed to support the PI’s salary, and the reviewers tend to not consider PI salary as a good use of the funding. It isn’t impossible to receive funding for salary through MRF grants, but there needs to be a strong justification for why this is needed.

Emergency Interim Support Awards

One of my NIH R01 grants will not be renewed; do I qualify for EIS funding?

No, all external funding must be ended/ending soon.

My K award (or my R21 grant) is ending and I haven’t successfully transitioned to an R01 grant; do I qualify for EIS funding?

No, EIS awards are reserved to PIs who have a history of major federal research grant funding.

Submission/Resubmission Questions

How do I submit a no-cost extension to my MRF grant?

To submit a no-cost extension request, please send the following information to

  • The title and grant number of your project
  • A PDF of your MRF-funded project 
  • The original funding period of your project
  • Any additional extension periods previously requested and granted
  • The newly requested no-cost extension period

If a proposal will involve the same global project as a prior submission, but the aims will be different, should this be considered a new submission or a resubmission?

If the new proposal is drastically different from the last proposal, then it should be considered a new submission. If it is a revised and improved version of the last proposal, it should be considered a resubmission. In both cases, letters of support and all the additional materials must be resubmitted.

How often can a PI submit and resubmit for an MRF grant?

A PI can submit one application per round up to three times (two resubmissions) for each proposal. If the PI changes the proposal and submits a new proposal, then the PI has up to two times to resubmit.

Are animal models acceptable for the Early Clinical Investigator Award (ECI)?


Is it acceptable for a department to submit multiple applications for an MRF grant?

Yes, it is acceptable.

How many grants are funded each cycle?

There are no restrictions on how many grants the committee can fund. The committee will choose the best of all the applications that they consider are ready to receive funding. Available funds are limited, however, by the size and returns of the MRF endowment.

Can students apply for MRF grants?

M.D. and Ph.D. students do not qualify. Generally residents cannot be principal investigators unless they take a year off for research or have significant protected time, as documented in the letter of support by their Department Chair. As a reminder, requests for PI salary should be thoroughly justified and are usually not granted as they reflect insufficient institutional support.

Can Co-PI’s apply for New Investigator Awards?

Yes Co-PI’s can apply, but MRF grants are not generally used to support PI’s effort but rather other personnel and reagents. If PI’s effort is requested it has to be well justified (i.e. why aren’t there institutional funds available to support new investigators, as this would show a lack of institutional commitment).

Can applicants have others apply for them by proxy in InfoReady?

Yes. On the home page of the Competitive Application Portal, click your user name in blue in the top right corner. There is an option to send an invitation by proxy.

For resubmissions, is there a page length restriction for a cover letter and response to reviewers?

No, there is not a page length requirement or restriction to the resubmission cover letter, but you need to be respectful of the reviewer’s time (generally a good practice).

Is the reference section of the MRF application included in the research page limit?

No, the references and bibliography are excluded from the research page limit.

Is a budget justification page recommended to include in an MRF grant submission?

Yes, a brief budget justification page is useful.