NIH Biosketch Updates

NIH biosketches are subject to two reviews for rule compliance: automatic preliminary review by eRA Systems upon initial submission and manual review.

Automatic Preliminary Review by eRA Systems Upon Initial Submission

The following requirements are validated by eRA Systems. Failure to meet these conditions will result in a submission error preventing your application from moving forward to NIH for consideration.

  • A Biosketch is required for each Senior and Key person listed in the application.
  • Five page limit.
  • PDF format required

Validated by Manual Review

The following requirements are manually reviewed post-submission. Failure to follow the biosketch policy means NIH may withdraw your application from consideration.

  • Do not include information, such as preliminary data, that belongs elsewhere in the application.
  • Complete each section of the biosketch 
    • A – Personal Statement
    • B – Positions and Honors
    • C – Contributions to Science
    • D – Research Support
  • Limit of five Contributions to Science with no more than four citations per contribution.
  • Half page limit for each Contributions to Science (including citations). 
  • Font types allowed (as of October 2015)*:
    • Arial
    • Helvetica
    • Palatino Linotype
    • Georgia
  • Font size 11, color: black.

NOTE: New guidance on font types and sizes available March 2016; effective May 25, 2016.

Forthcoming Requirements for the Biosketch: Effective May 25, 2016

  • The URL to List of Publications must be to a gov. website (My Bibliography). The List of Publications will remain optional.   
  • No figures, tables or graphics will be allowed in the biosketch.
  • Citations to non peer-reviewed journal articles and other “research products” can be included in the Personal Statement.

Further guidance and updated forms are expected to be available from NIH in March 2016.

General Recommendations for a Biosketch

  • Follow the NIH instructions/requirements for creating a biosketch. NIH and the reviewers are looking for specific information in a standard format.
  • It takes longer to prepare a new biosketch than anticipated.
  • Start early and get feedback before submitting.
  • Tailor the biosketch to the application. 
  • “You are not your research but you are your biosketch.”  Think of the biosketch as your scientific autobiography.  Tell a story about your research and support it with evidence (research products).
  • The Contributions to Science are intended to be a descriptive narrative (“telling a story”) of your research efforts and a means of annotating your research products.
  • Your Contributions to Science are about your career and accomplishments.
    • What scientific problem did you research?
    • What were your findings or research products?
    • What was the impact of the findings?
    • What was your role?
  • Use Plain Language and avoid jargon. Plain Language is clear, concise, organized, and appropriate for the intended audience.

NIH Resources

Becker Library Resources

Need help? Have questions?

Cathy Sarli or Amy Suiter