MRF Grant FAQs

Applicant qualification questions

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

Faculty, including associate professors do not qualify for an Early Clinical Investigator Award. An associate professor can be eligible for a New Investigator Award under very limited circumstances. If the PI is new to research and has been promoted to associate professor for their clinical duties, they can request an exception in a cover letter. As for all applicants, a strong letter from the chair, describing the chair's commitment to their research career, including protected time as well as a solid mentoring plan, is needed.


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).

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

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.

There are no citizenship requirements to apply for any of these grants; however, the research must be completed in Oregon, with the overall goal of sponsoring Oregon scientists and science in Oregon.

Co-PIs are not recommended for MRF grants because one of the goals of an MRF grant is to help strengthen the PI's career.

Support letter questions

View this guide for step-by-step instructions for submitting a support letter.

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.

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

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

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 could be construed that the department does not strongly support the PI.

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

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

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

Submission/resubmission questions

To submit a no-cost extension request, you must submit a letter (co-signed by your mentor if extending an ECI Grant) requesting an extension to OHSU Office of Proposal and Award Management or each institution's equivalent department prior to the grant's expiration date. Once OPAM or the equivalent department has signed off on your letter, you will submit the letter as well as the information listed below through the competitive application portal. Once submitted, you will hear about the decision from MRF administrators. 

Please include the following information in your letter:

  • Brief description of the research progress and use of funds to date
    • If applicable, include publications (submitted, in press, citation if published) and grant applications submitted/awarded
  • Brief description of proposed research and budget for the remaining funds

Please include the following information in your extension request:

  • The title and grant number of your project
  • The original abstract 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 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.

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.


Yes, it is acceptable.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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).

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

Yes, a brief budget justification page is useful.

In principle, you can put anything in the budget that is necessary for the proposed project. It all must be briefly justified as needed for the project. Note that some reviewers consider a need for salary support as being a sign of insufficient institutional support. However, some applicants will put a fraction of summer months' salary.

If you are applying for a New Investigator Grant, note (as specified in the grant guidelines), "The primary goal of a New Investigator MRF grant is to enable new faculty members to improve their likelihood of obtaining national support (e.g., NIH, NSF)." Thus it is not a funding mechanism for small research projects, and there should be a plan as to how this will lead to further funding.