November 04, 2016

NIH Prior Approval Through eRA Commons

Under National Institutes of Health policy, Principal Investigators (PIs) needs to seek prior approval from NIH before submitting a grant application with direct costs of $500,000 or more for a single budget year.

PIs now have the option to electronically submit these prior approval requests through the NIH eRA Commons.


As per current practice, the PI will first reach out via email or phone to the Program Official (PO) at the Institute/Center (IC) to discuss the request. From there, the PO can then choose to invite the PI to initiate the prior approval request through eRA Commons.

The initiation of the request will trigger an email notification to the PI and to the email address listed for receiving the Notice of Award (NoA) on the Institutional Profile screen. Upon being notified, the PI will go into eRA Commons and go to the Prior Approval tab along the top navigation menu. The PI will find two options and should click “List my Requests.”

The PI will find the $500K Request under the column Request Type, with a status of “In Progress PI,” and should click the “Modify” link.

Then the Prior Approval Request $500K screen will open. The screen is pretty straightforward with a few required fields, such as Project Title, FOA number, and Anticipated Submission Date. The PI will need to provide a short justification (just 500 characters) for the request, with up to 10 supporting documents allowed.

The PI should then submit the request directly to NIH. The UC Berkeley Sponsored Projects Office will receive a notification when this occurs.

If the request is approved by the Program Official at the IC, the PI will receive an email from the Program Official. When the error free application is received by NIH, this application will be matched with the $500k approval from the IC and the application will move through the normal process.

Although submitting this request through the eRA Commons is optional now, NIH intends to make it a requirement in the future.

See the NIH eRA News for more information.