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S10 Instrumentation Programs: Frequently Asked Questions


Are there active S10 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)?

Yes, currently there are three active FOAs:

  • Basic Instrumentation Grant (BIG) Program: PAR-22-081
  • Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) Program: PAR-22-080
  • High-End Instrumentation (HEI) Grant Program: PAR-22-079
The FOA title includes “S10 Clinical Trial Not Allowed.” What does this mean?

The S10 mechanism does not directly fund research activities/clinical trials; hence, an S10 grant is not subject to the NIH reporting requirements for clinical trials.

A request for an S10 instrument must be justified by the needs of active NIH-funded research projects. These projects may fund human subject research, including clinical trials. Similarly, it is permitted for an S10-funded instrument to be used for the conduct of NIH-funded human subject research, including clinical trials.

I. Preparing the Application

Instruments and Their Administration

Is there a list of eligible instruments for S10 applications?

Because of the evolving nature of the S10 program, there is no list of all eligible instruments. Detailed information on types of supported instrumentation and on requests that will not be considered for funding are provided in Section I (Funding Opportunity Description) of the FOAs. We encourage applicants to contact the Program Officer with questions on instrumentation eligibility (see contact info at the bottom of this page)..

Can our institution lease the equipment before our S10 application is funded? How does this work?

Your institution may lease an instrument before the award is received, but only without obligation to buy. If the leasing agreement was executed more than one year prior to submission of the S10 application, the applicant should provide additional information demonstrating that the instrument remains state-of-the-art and the need for requested Federal funds remains. If the application is funded, the award amount will be adjusted based on the remaining balance required to purchase the instrument, as specified in the lease buyout table (which should be included in the lease agreement). The award will not exceed the fair market value of the instrument. An application will be deemed ineligible and eliminated from funding considerations if a purchase order or agreement is executed or a down payment or other formal commitment to purchase the instrument is made prior to award.

What software requests are allowable?

Only software that is necessary to control and monitor the operation of the instrument, generate high-quality output data and enable their visualization is allowable under the S10 mechanism. Examples of allowable software include modules to enable special imaging modalities of an optical microscope or pulse sequences for MRI/MRS. In general, software enabling a specific functional configuration of an instrument must be justified by the needs of research projects.

What are examples of non-allowable software?

Examples of software items not supported by the S10 program include: (i) separate software items for post-processing of the data; (ii) software supporting data storage and database management; (iii) time- and user-limited software licenses; (iv) duplicate software. In addition, separate workstations and software to operate them are not allowable.

Should the instrument be placed in a core facility?

Whenever practical, the S10 funded instrument should be integrated in a centralized core facility, to encourage optimal sharing among individual investigators, research groups, and departments, and to foster a collaborative multidisciplinary environment. If the plans are to place an instrument in a setting other than a core facility or a shared resource facility, the application must demonstrate how the broad access to the instruments will be arranged and the use on a shared basis assured.

To reduce user costs for the shared equipment, can an awardee allow any billable clinical use of the instrument?

Instruments awarded under the SIG program are awarded exclusively for use in biomedical research and cannot be used for billable clinical services.

 Under the HEI program, a Special Use Instrument (SUI) application can be considered in rare circumstances. The applicant institution may contribute a portion of the cost of the requested SUI commensurate with the proposed use of the instrument for uses other than biomedical research. The applicants should carefully check the current FOA for details about the SUI requirements. In addition, we strongly encourage the applicants to contact the Program Officer and Grants Management Staff before requesting an SUI as SUIs must meet special administrative rules to be eligible for funding.

What should I consider when planning a budget for new instrumentation?

In order to improve the cost-effectiveness of the S10 program, the applicants are advised to employ the best economical approaches when planning the purchase and negotiating the price of an instrument, including securing academic discounts, if applicable.

Principle Investigator (PI), Other Users, and Major User Group Requirement

Does the PI of an S10 application need to have a funded NIH grant?

No, the PI of an S10 application does not need to have NIH-funded grant(s) or any other research support. However, the PI should demonstrate in the application that he/she has the relevant instrument expertise and can perform the necessary scientific and administrative oversight responsibilities for the requested instrument.

Who can be considered a Major User?

A Major User is an individual who has a substantial need for the requested instrument, demonstrated by relevant research grant support as a Principal Investigator. Eligible support mechanisms are not limited to NIH grants, but Major Users must be engaged in biomedical research.

What is the Major User Group requirement?

A Major User group with at least 3 Principal Investigators on NIH-funded different research awards must be identified (see the answers to the next questions below for additional stipulations). 

NIH-funded Major Users should demonstrate a combined need of the instrument at the level of at least 35% of the Accessible Usage Time (AUT). In addition, the projects supported by active NIH research grants should together require 75% or more of the AUT. (See a question in the Other Submission Requirements section about the definition of AUT and related calculations.)

Does a Major User need to have an R01 grant?

It is not mandatory that a Major User is a PI on an R01 grant. A Major User must be a biomedical researcher with the substantial need for the instrument and commensurate support to fund research using the instrument. An R01 grant is a leading example of an NIH award which offers multi-year support for research activities and may justify funding for the use of an S10 instrument. A PI on an R01 grant may be identified as a Major User. The NIH uses numerous other award mechanisms which offer substantial multi-year funding for the conduct of research; examples include some of the D, K, P, R, and U mechanisms.

Can a PI of a center grant be listed as a Major User?

The PI of a center grant can be listed as a Major User. However, only one PI of a research-related center grant (such as P01) can be counted as a Major User for the purposes of meeting the eligibility criteria.

What awards are not eligible towards fulfilling the Major User Group eligibility requirement?

Grants supporting infrastructure (e.g., C06), scientific meetings (e.g., R13, R25), training and other non-research activities (e.g., T32, F32) are not eligible to be counted towards the Major User Group requirement. Similarly, SBIR/STTR, Other Transaction (OT) and contract awards are not eligible to fulfil this requirement. PIs who have only NIH awards listed in this paragraph are not eligible to be Major Users. Similarly, these awards cannot be counted towards demonstrating the need at the 75% level of AUT. (For example, a PI on an T32 award is not eligible to be a Major User; however, a PI on an R01 and T32 awards is eligible to be a Major User.)

How is the need for a specific instrument demonstrated? What are the eligibility requirements for the Major User group?

The need for a specific instrument is demonstrated by the cumulative level of the Accessible User Time (AUT) requested by NIH-funded Principal Investigators. NIH-funded Major Users should demonstrate a combined need of the instrument at the level of at least 35% of the AUT. In addition, the projects supported by active NIH research awards (i.e., grants or cooperative agreements) should together require 75% or more of the AUT.

Other Submission Requirements

Are there any other submission requirements?


  • A valid itemized quote for the requested instrument must be attached.
  • Applications without a quote will be deemed incomplete and returned to the applicant without review (or considered for funding).
  • Other budget pages are not required.
  • An Advisory Committee must be named.
What are membership requirements for the Advisory Committee? Can the PI be a member of the Advisory Committee?

The membership of the Committee should be broad and include at least one senior institutional official to represent the financial commitments of the institution. Major and Minor Users may be members, but none can chair the committee. The PI cannot be a voting member of the Committee.

Other Submission Guidelines

How should the Accessible User Time (AUT) be reported?

AUT should be reported in hours per year. 

Note that the S10 Program Announcements defines the AUT as “the number of annual hours the instrument can be used for any research purpose”.

NIH recognizes that various instruments require different regular maintenance and calibration schedules. Also, different technologies dictate different experimental timelines or assistance needs of a qualified operator. Hence, AUT hours may be limited by the times an instrument operator is available (if an operator is required), site or building access schedules, estimated or scheduled maintenance, start-up and standardization, and any other factors that take time away from use of the instrument for research. 

The AUT for the proposed instrument based on the individual situation at the applicant institution should be described and justified. AUT for the same instrument may differ among different institutions.

How should the anticipated usage of the instrument be described?

For each listed research project specify its anticipated usage in annual hours. (Do not list the same project such as P01 grant multiple times.) Also, include a sum of the anticipated usage in annual hours for all Minor/Other Users – if grouped together. Summarize the usage data in a table. Following the table, state (i) a total estimated usage time by Users’ projects in annual hours, (ii) the percentage of the estimated usage time devoted to Major Users’ NIH-funded projects, and (iii) the percentage of the estimated usage time devoted to NIH-funded projects.

Can the instrument be used by a biomedical researcher employed by a for-profit organization?

Yes. For-profit organizations are eligible to apply for research awards such as R01 or R21; hence, for example, a PI who is employed by a for-profit organization and is a recipient of an R01 can be a Major User of an S10 instrument. Also, a biomedical researcher employed by a for-profit organization who does not have NIH funding may have access to an instrument funded by an S10 award, depending on specific management and administrative arrangements at the grantee institution. However, NIH-funded researchers have the priority to use an S10-funded instrument.

Justification of Need

Are preliminary data required?

No, preliminary data are not required. However, if an instrument can be demoed, including preliminary data is an effective way of showing advantages of the novel technology compared to what’s currently available to the PI and the users.

How many research projects should I list in the applications?

There is no prescribed number of projects that should be listed in the Research Project Section. The number of users and their projects will vary, depending on the type of the instrument and specific research needs. Important is to clearly demonstrate how each individual research project will benefit from the requested instrument.

Can I attach in the Appendix manuscripts with preliminary data?

Appendix is not allowed. Moreover, links to videos in the body of the application are not allowed either.

Institution Eligibility

Can for-profit, Federal or foreign organizations apply for an S10 award?

No, for-profit, Federal and foreign institutions are not eligible to apply.

Institutional Letter of Support: Table of Previous S10 Awards

Is the Institutional Letter of Support with a table describing performance and status of previously awarded S10 instruments for the entire institution, or can the list encompass just the department or division requesting a new instrument?

S10 grants awarded to the submitting institution (i.e., all departments or divisions with the same DUNS number) must be included in the table listing the previous awards.

How far back should the S10 awards table go?

As indicated in the FOA, any S10 instruments awarded within the previous five years must be included in the table. For example, for the receipt date in May 2020, the table should list all S10 awards received in FYs 2015 – 2019.

What is the structure of the S10 Awards Table?

The Table should have 8 columns with the headings as outlined below. For items 6 and 8, please use one of the provided categories:

  1. Grant Number (e.g., S10OD023456)
  2. Fiscal Year of Award
  3. Name of the PI
  4. Generic Name of Instrument (e.g., Mass Spectrometer, NMR, Confocal Microscope)
  5. Instrument Status (please enter one of the following options): Active (instrument in use), Pending (order placed but instrument not delivered, instrument received but not installed or not calibrated for general use), Upgraded (or replaced), Not Available (sold, decommissioned, transferred)
  6. Actual Usage Time (Actual Accessible User Time); Report actual total time in hours per year the instrument was used for research. If the instrument has been installed less than a year ago, the hours can be extrapolated for an estimate of hours per full year.
  7. Maintenance Agreement (please enter one of the following options): Active (Warranty in place), In-House (or Self-Insured), None (Fee for Service, Pending), Not Available (no longer supported by manufacturer)
  8. Number of publications that reference this S10 award. Publications that cite the S10 award or publications that have been linked with the S10 award in My NCBI should be included.
Grant Number Fiscal Year of Award PI/PD’s Name Generic Name of the Instrument Instrument Status Actual Usage Time Maintenance Agreement Number of Publications Referencing this S10 Instrument
S10 OD023456 2011 Jones Mass Spectrometer Active 4000 Active 32
S10 OD023788 2010 Lee NMR Active 8000 Fee for Service 65
S10 OD023654 2014 Smith Confocal Microscope Pending 2000 In-House 96
S10 OD023653 2010 Clark Robotic Assay System Upgraded* N/A N/A 74

* This instrument was traded-in for an updated robotic assay system purchased with institutional funds.

There is a reference in the FOA to providing supplementary text related to this table. When is this text required?

Supplementary text is only required if the awarded instrument is currently non-functional. Occasionally, other explanatory text may be added if the applicant deems it appropriate (i.e., if there is no maintenance contract since expert self-maintenance is available or if the number of citations is unusually low for the instrument, etc.). Please keep any explanatory text to a maximal length of a sentence or two.

What if the S10 is not cited in any publications, but users have published with data obtained through the S10 instrument?

Note that the NIH requires an acknowledgment of an NIH award in each publication, press release, and other documents which report results generated with NIH funding (see the Notice of Award). If there was an oversight in citing the S10 award, the authors should acknowledge NIH support by liking the S10 grant award with these publications in My NCBI.

Institutional Letter of Support to Back Up the Financial Plan

Are matching funds required?

Matching instrument purchase funds are not required by the FOA. However, the institution may decide to provide additional funds towards the purchase of the instrument as part of its institutional support. The institutional commitment letter of support to back-up the financial plan for the operation of the awarded instrument for its expected lifetime is described in the FOA and may include, but is not limited to, preparation of the instrument site, instrument operation, maintenance, and supplies.

How is “the effective lifetime” of an instrument determined?

It is expected that “the effective lifetime” of an instrument will depend on the type of instrument. The FOA asks an institution for a commitment to back up the financial plan for support of the instrument for five years or “the effective lifetime”. A Study Section will evaluate whether the commitment period is appropriate.

II. Submission and Review of the Application


When should I submit my application?

We encourage you to submit your application electronically several days prior to the receipt deadline so that you have sufficient time to check the completeness and correctness of your submission, and correct any errors or omissions (if needed). It is not possible to make such corrections after the receipt date has passed.

My application is going to be late for the receipt date. What can I do?

The S10 program FOAs set a receipt date and the NIH expects that applications will be submitted on time. However, according to NIH Policy for Late Application submissions NOT-OD-15-039, NIH may consider applications submitted within a two week window after the submission deadline but only under the conditions defined in this Notice. The applicant should check the eligibility requirements in the Notice for late submission before considering sending the application late.

Before Review

Who will review my application?

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will convene Special Emphasis Panels (SEPs) within the following Integrated Review Groups (IRGs): Biological Chemistry and Macromolecular Biophysics (BCMB), Bioengineering Sciences and Technologies (BST), Cell Biology (CB), Genes, Genomes, and Genetics (GGG), Interdisciplinary Molecular Sciences and Training (IMST), and Surgical Sciences, Biomedical Imaging, and Bioengineering (SBIB). Applications are assigned to SEPs based on specific instrumentation types. The applicants can access the assignment, the name and contact information of the Scientific Review Officer (SRO), the date of the meeting, and (30 days before the meeting) the roster on their eRA Commons account. Any questions about the SEP assignment should be directed to the SRO.

Can I submit supplemental materials before the application is reviewed? To whom should I send the documents?

Late submission of application material is severely restricted. No missing pages or sections will be accepted as late submission materials. Please see NOT-OD-19-083 for additional information.

III. Post-Review and Post-Award


Is there a percentile for S10 applications?

There is no percentile rank for S10 applications.

I saw my score on eRA Commons yesterday. When can I call or make an appointment to discuss the status of my application with the Program Officer?

Do not make an appointment before the release of your application Summary Statement. The Summary Statement, which provides detailed critiques of your application, will be available on the eRA Commons portal within 4 weeks after the review meeting. You are strongly advised to read your Summary Statement before contacting the Program Officer. The Program Officer will not be able to provide information to you prior to release of your Summary Statement.

I want to appeal the review for my application. What should I do and how late can I submit the appeal document to be included in the Council meeting?

If you have specific concerns about the review of your application, you are encouraged to contact your Program Officer as soon as you read your Summary Statement and identify concerns to discuss your options. After such discussion, you may choose to submit a written appeal to the Program Officer, signed by the Authorized Official for your Institution. The NIH policy statement on the Appeal Process is defined in the NIH Director Notice NOT-OD-11-064. According to the ORIP procedures, an appeal letter must be received at least 21 calendar days before the Council of Councils meeting at which your application will be reviewed. Around the time of the Study Section, we’ll send you a letter outlining post review procedures and their deadlines.

I received a Just-in-Time (JIT) request and see a JIT link on my eRA Commons. Does this mean my application is under funding consideration? Just-in-Time notifications are automatically generated by eRA Commons and do not apply to the S10 program. You do n

Just-in-Time notifications are automatically generated by eRA Commons and do not apply to the S10 program. You do not need to submit any information in response to that automated JIT email message. Applicants under consideration for funding will be contacted by Program Officers for updated information from the e-mail address The JIT update should be prepared on the portal that is set up to facilitate collating all required data. S10 updated information includes a (new) valid quote, justification of any modifications of the instrument requested, responses to the weaknesses cited in the summary statement and the need of the instrument to support Users’ research projects. The eligibility requirement to support NIH-funded research projects must be met at the time an application is submitted and when an application is considered for funding, based on the JIT update. This update should also include information about HIV/AIDS related projects, if any.

Do I have to use the portal to prepare the report? The use of the portal is strongly encouraged and recommended as it offers many advantages to you, in addition to clearly organizing the required data. You will be able to update and

Do I have to use the portal to prepare the report? The use of the portal is strongly encouraged and recommended as it offers many advantages to you, in addition to clearly organizing the required data. You will be able to update and augment the data in JIT to easily create the Final Research Performance Progress Report (Final RPPR, FRPPR) and four subsequent Annual Usage Reports, as defined in the Notice of the Award.

What if the updated quote is higher than the quote in the application?

Typically, an award is made at the level approved by the Study Sections, provided that other budgetary constraints are met.

My application was not funded. What can I do next?

The applicant may consider resubmitting an application, after addressing the reviewers’ comments. Alternatively, the applicant may submit a new application. In such case the narrative must not refer to the previous review.


What documents must I prepare and who should I contact to initiate a Change of PI request?

A letter signed by the current PI and Authorized Institutional Business Official, including reasons for the change and the proposed effective date of change, and the biosketch of the new PI are needed to initiate the process. These documents should be sent to the Grants Management Specialist and copied to the Program Officer listed on your Notice of Award.

The PI of the S10 grant is moving to another institution. Can the S10 grant/equipment move with the PI?

The PI must contact the Program Officer and the Grants Management Specialist assigned to the award to discuss the possibility of relocation of the instrument. The Internal Advisory Committee, as well as both institutions involved, must approve such relocation. Considerations must include the needs of the user group noted in the application and those of the proposed new user group at the accepting institution.

What types of changes require pre-approval from the NIH?

Pre-approval from both the Program Officer and the Office of Grants Management is required for the following changes: relocation of the instrument inside the institution (i.e., assigned to a different core facility or different school within the institution); relocation of the instrument to another institution; change of PD/PI; trade-in, sale or other disposition of the awarded instrument; shut-down of an instrument within less than five year of its installation. Any of these changes also require approval of the Internal Advisory Committee for the instrument.

Is award citation required?

Since FY2006, any S10 Notice of the Award has included the language: “Each publication, press release or other document that cites results from NIH grant-supported research must include an acknowledgment of NIH grant support […]”. Per NIH-wide policies, any publication that reports data collected using an S10 instrument must be linked to the S10 award using MyNCBI (like it would be done for any research grant, for example an R01) or acknowledge the award in the body of the paper.

What post-award reporting is required?

An S10 award is issued for a year. Within that period, an instrument should be ordered, delivered, calibrated, and made available to researchers. The Final Research Performance Progress Report (FRPPR) must be submitted at the project end period when the instrument is fully functional and operational. As any instrument is expected to be used for many years subsequently to FRPPR, four Annual Usage Reports (AURs) are required, as defined in the Notice of the Award. FRPPR and AURs should include a report from the Advisory Committee.

IV. Basic Instrumentation Grant (BIG) Program


How big is the BIG Program?

The program targets institutions that receive lesser amounts of NIH funding per year compared with leading biomedical research institutions in the US. This opportunity can, thus, make a significant (BIG) impact on institutions with somewhat limited resources. For these institutions, acquisition of modern-day costly instruments may contribute to: (1) advancement of important biomedical research projects at locations with limited extramural funding or (2) development of new biomedical research projects at these institutions.

What are the budgetary limits of the BIG Program?

Since the BIG program supports acquisitions of basic instruments, funding is limited to $25,000 - $250,000.

Who is eligible for the BIG? What does “limited competition” mean?

Shared instrumentation programs managed by ORIP are open to public and private institutions of higher education as well as nonprofit organizations with or without 501(c)(3) IRS Status. However, the BIG program restricts eligibility to only those institutions that have not received S10 funding greater than $250,000 in any of the past three fiscal years – hence, limited competition.

What does “the past three fiscal years” mean? How do I check whether my institution is eligible to apply to the BIG Program?

For example, if the receipt date for BIG applications is in calendar year 2021 (June 1, 2021), you should check whether your institution has received any S10 awards in fiscal years 2018-2020. For BIG applications with a receipt date in calendar year 2022, the eligibility would be determined by whether your institution received S10 awards in fiscal years 2019-2021, and so on. A table on the ORIP website can provide you with such information. However, your institution should confirm eligibility by checking the NIH Reporter website. Note, an application submitted for the BIG program must include a letter from an Authorized Organizational Representative confirming eligibility.

Can you give me an example of past S10 awards that would make my institution eligible or illegible?

For example:

  1. If an institution received an S10 award of $150,000 in FY2018 and another S10 award of $180,000 in FY2020, the institution is eligible to apply for the receipt date in 2021 – because for any year in FYs 2018-2020, the institution did not receive an S10 award greater than $250,000.
  2. If an institution received two S10 awards $200,000 and $125,000 in FY2019, the institution is not eligible to apply for the BIG receipt date in 2021. In this situation, the combined total of S10 awards in FY2019 exceeds the limit of $250,000.
  3. If an institution received two S10 awards in FY2019 of $100,000 and $125,000, the institution is eligible to apply for the receipt date in 2021 since the combined total of S10 awards in FY2019 is less than $250,000.
How many applications can an institution submit to the BIG Program per receipt date?

An institution – as identified by its DUNS number, can submit only one application to the BIG program per receipt date. However, in addition to one BIG application, an institution can submit (multiple) applications to the SIG and HEI programs, for different types of instruments/technologies – please check the text of the corresponding Funding Opportunity Announcements for a detailed description of the conditions under which multiple applications from an institution are allowed.

What are the requirements of NIH research funding to support the usage of a BIG instrument?

The shared instrumentation program provides scientific instruments to advance NIH-funded research and as such the BIG program meets this objective. The BIG program targets institutions that are not major recipients of NIH research funding and thus, the requirement of NIH research funding for BIG instrument users is defined according and somewhat differently than for the SIG and HEI programs. Specifically, users whose project are supported by grants such as R03, R15, or R21 qualify as Major (and Minor) Users for the BIG program. Multi-year funding demonstrated by grants such as R01s, is not required though is allowed and accepted by the BIG program. Note, like the SIG/HEI, the BIG program requires 3 Major Users with NIH research funding. Training or fellowship grants (i.e., T and F mechanisms), other non-research and SBIR/STTR grants, Other Transaction (OT) awards, and contracts cannot be used to fulfill the Major User requirement.

What are the expectations of shared usage for BIG instruments? First, as for any S10 shared instrument, the PI should determine the accessible usage time (AUT) which is the number of annual hours the instrument can be practically used for biomedical resea

What are the expectations of shared usage for BIG instruments? First, as for any S10 shared instrument, the PI should determine the accessible usage time (AUT) which is the number of annual hours the instrument can be practically used for biomedical research. The projects of Major Users supported by any NIH research awards must collectively use the instrument for at least 25% of the AUT. Moreover, the total collective usage for biomedical research projects (irrespective of funding source) for all identified users (Major and Minor) should be 75% of AUT.

How do I apply for the BIG? When are the receipt, review, and award dates?

The receipt date for ORIP-managed S10 programs - BIG, SIG, and HEI, is the same; typically end of May/beginning of June each FY. Please check the Funding Opportunity Announcement for the receipt date, and the timeline for peer and Council reviews, and funding considerations.

V. S10 Contact

Monika Aggarwal, Ph.D.:

Division of Construction and Instruments (DCI)
Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)
The Office of the Director, NIH (OD)
6701 Democracy Boulevard
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4874

Phone: 301-435-0772