CRHC Grant Proposal Policy


The CRHC promotes the conduct of high-quality health services research. To support this objective, it maintains an Internal Scientific Grant Review Committee to help ensure that all proposals submitted for external review adhere to high scientific and ethical standards so as to improve their probability of funding success.

The CRHC Internal Scientific Grant Review process is intended to be collegial, cooperative, instructive, and beneficial to the principal investigator (PI) and to the reviewers alike. It also serves to ensure that the administrative, budgetary, and scientific components of the proposal adhere to a strict timetable for completion so that the finalized proposal can be submitted to the NIH and other external funding agencies on time.

The CRHC Internal Scientific Grant Review process is overseen by Dr. Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH and administrative support is provided by Karin Dillon.

Their responsibilities include: (1) Coordinating efforts to ensure each application undergoes a high-quality and timely internal scientific review; (2) Examining reviewers' critiques to identify potentially serious problems that may delay submission of an investigator's proposal; (3) Facilitating the internal budgetary review; and (4) Providing regular reports and feedback concerning the review efforts to internal reviewers, the Center's leadership, and core faculty members.

Scientific Review Processes

For Principal Investigators

Request a CRHC Internal Scientific Review

To request a review, click here.

If your application is for submission to the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), you may request a review that is focused on PCORI’s review criteria through the CTSI’s Comparative Effectiveness Research Core (CERC), in place of a CRHC review that is more focused on NIH’s review criteria.

All new and revised research proposals prepared by CRHC faculty for submission to an external agency for funding will be reviewed and evaluated for scientific and technical merit (for more information which grants need to be reviewed see Consideration of Special Circumstances).

To initiate an internal scientific review of a grant proposal, the principal investigator (PI) must provide the following information on the electronic request form 8-10 weeks before the due date of external submission:

Click here for information about National Institutes of Health submission deadlines.

Click here to view the expertise profiles of CRHC-affiliated faculty members who may be appropriate to serve as an internal reviewer.

After the PI completes the electronic request form, they will receive an e-mail notification of the deadlines by which the proposal must be: (a) uploaded to the CRHC Internal Scientific Grant Review site; and (b) forwarded to the CRHC Administrator.

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Administrative and Budgetary Review

Before the PI can submit a grant proposal to an outside funding agency, the budget must be reviewed by the following individuals within the University of Pittsburgh: the CRHC Administrator (Lynn Rago, MBA); a representative of the Research Administration Office within the Department of Medicine; and a representative of the University of Pittsburgh's Office of Research.

General advice:

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Procedures for Submitting a Draft Proposal

Reviewer Assignment:

The CRHC Internal Scientific Grant Review Committee will inspect all requests for internal reviews to make sure they are complete and the proposed internal reviewers are suitable. In some instances, the Committee may suggest additional reviewers with special expertise to review the application.

Uploading the Proposal:

To upload a draft proposal, click here.

If the request is for a revised proposal, then the PI will also be prompted to submit the prior summary statement or external review. This will allow the internal reviewers to evaluate the extent to which the revised proposal is responsive to the external reviewers' concerns.

The deadline for uploading proposals on the CRHC Internal Scientific Grant Review site is 5 weeks prior to the external submission due date.

This 5 week period should allow ample time for (1) the internal reviewers to comment on the draft; (2) the PI to respond to the reviewers' feedback; and (3) the CRHC Administrator to review, upload, and then forward the completed proposal to the Department of Medicine and Office of Research for external submission.

After the 5 week deadline has passed, the CRHC Internal Scientific Grant Review site will not allow the PI to upload his/her grant proposal. If the PI is unable to submit their draft proposal by the 5-week deadline, then he/she will need to contact the CHRC Director, Wishwa Kapoor, MD, MPH, to request a waiver to submit.

If the PI has requested a review and later decides not to submit their proposal either before or after their internal review, then we request the PI to notify the CRHC Committee Chair and CRHC Administrator at their earliest convenience.

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Request for a Biostatistical Review

The PI may also request a statistical review of their proposal at the time they make their online request for an internal review. A statistician from the CRHC Data Center will then review the proposal's biostatistical methods (e.g., sample size, power calculations, and analytic approach) and provide the PI with comments.

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Responding to Internal Reviewers' Comments

The PI will be notified via email when the reviewers have uploaded their reviews. While we expect the PI will use their judgment on whether and how to respond to the issues raised in reviewers' critiques in consultation with their co-Is, consultants, and mentors as appropriate, any proposal rated as unacceptable for external submission by any reviewer must undergo another cycle of internal review before it will be allowed to be submitted externally to a funding agency.

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Timeline of Internal Scientific Review

Time to external submission deadline PI should:
8-10 Weeks Discuss proposal with Center Administrator
≥ 8 Weeks Identify 3-4 qualified internal reviewers
8 Weeks Submit request for Internal Scientific Review
5 Weeks Upload draft grant application for review
4 Weeks Respond to reviewers’ comments
8 Working days Forward completed application to the CRHC Administrator for further processing

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For Reviewers

To review a grant, click here

Deadlines and Procedures for Providing Internal Review Comments

Reviewers who accept an invitation to internally review a grant proposal will be notified when the PI has uploaded their grant proposal.

Afterwards, they will be expected to use the CRHC Internal Review site to submit a substantive written critique of the proposal within one week (7 calendar days). We also encourage reviewers to contact the PI and provide their verbal feedback to ensure their comments are transmitted accurately, and to assist the PI in shaping their final proposal.

Expectations for Faculty Members to Serve as Internal Reviewers

As part of their "citizenship" responsibilities, all core and affiliate CRHC faculty members with the appropriate expertise and skills are expected to participate as internal reviewers.

CRHC core faculty are expected to conduct the following number of proposal reviews per year:

  • 2 for assistant professors.
  • 3 for associate and full professors.

CRHC affiliate faculty are expected to conduct the following number of proposal reviews per year:

  • 1 for assistant professors.
  • 2 for associate and full professors.

Acceptable reasons for not accepting a PI's invitation to review include (1) submission of one's own grant that cycle; (2) accepting an invitation to review another colleague's application that cycle; (3) participation on a NIH, AHRQ, or other study section that cycle; (4) hospitalist service; (5) vacation; and (6) medical leave of absence (e.g., maternity leave). Potential conflicts of interests and other excuses will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

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Consideration of Special Circumstances

Short Deadlines —We encourage internal scientific review for all proposals prior to external submission. However, we recognize that some RFAs/RFPs are issued with only a short time prior to the submission deadline (e.g., 60 days or less). In these circumstances, we encourage the PI to contact the Center Administrator (Lynn Rago) and Committee Chair (Bruce Rollman) to inform them of their intent to submit ASAP and to develop a timetable for internal review.

Proposals Undergoing Internal Review by a Non-CRHC Entity—PIs planning to have their grant application undergo internal scientific review through Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (Veterans Affairs), or another University school, department, institute, or center are not required to submit their proposal for a CRHC Internal Review. However, the PI should forward proof of completion of that review to the CRHC Administrator (Lynn Rago) prior to grant submission.

Collaborative Proposals—CRHC core and affiliate faculty who are co-investigators with salary support on other PIs grant proposals are highly encouraged and eligible to request that the proposal be submitted for CRHC internal review, however this step is not required.

Training Grants (T-series)—Maintain the same schedule for administrative and scientific review as outlined above.

Career Development Awards (K-series)—Maintain the same schedule for administrative and scientific review as outlined above.

PCORI Grants—Contact the CTSI’s Comparative Effectiveness Research Core (CERC) to request a review focused on the criteria used by PCORI.

Foundation Grants—Maintain the same schedule for administrative and scientific review as outlined above, based on the foundation's grant submission deadline.

Internal Pilot Grants—Applications for internal pilot funds do not require CRHC internal review.

Competing Continuations—Maintain the same schedule for administrative and scientific review as outlined above.

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