Investigator Biographical Sketches (Biosketches) are required for most federal grant applications and provide an opportunity for the principal investigator and the investigators participating in a grant proposal to provide reviewers with a picture of their education, experience, publication record, and their seminal contributions to scientific discovery in their research field(s). Below, information is provided about the 2015 changes to the required National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 2016 changes to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Biosketch format, allowing a more comprehensive representation of investigator expertise.
UA templates of the NSF and NIH Biosketch are available within Research Administration.
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Through a Guide Notice (NOT) issued in May 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced planned modification and pilot testing of the NIH Biographical Sketch (NOT-OD-14-091). Use of the new Biosketch format is encouraged for NIH & AHRQ due dates on/after January 25, 2015 and is required for due dates on/after May 25, 2015 (NOT-OD-15-032).
The changes, intended to allow each investigator to offer reviewers a better picture of his/her accomplishments and capabilities, will include the following:
- Extension of the page limit from four to five pages.
- A “Contribution to Science” section to include a description of up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed the research.
- This description can outline: a) the central finding(s) of the work, b) the influence of those finding(s) on their field and c) how those findings may have contributed to improvements in health or technology.
- For those involved in team science, it will allow the investigator to describe their specific role in the described work.
- Each of these descriptions can be supported by a listing of up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products, including audio or video products; patents; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware that are relevant to the described contribution.
- In addition to the descriptions of their contributions, investigators will be able to include a link to a full list of their published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as the optional, user-friendly tools MyBibliography or SciENcv (see Useful Resources).
Some useful resources available for preparing an NIH Biosketch for a specific proposal, include:
- The NIH Office for Extramural Research’s “Forms & Deadlines” page provides updated SF424 (R&R) Application Guides and a listing to point you to the appropriate Biographical Sketch Sample (see also below).
- For links to the MSWord template documents provided by NIH:
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) provides an optional, user-friendly tool, Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv) to construct an investigator’s NIH Biosketch. A new output format will be available soon (currently anticipated by the end of December).
- The May 22, 2014 Rock Talk blog post, written by Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director of Extramural Research, explains the rationale for the changes to the NIH Biosketch.
- Research grant applications, career development, training grant, andall other application types should use the general Biographical Sketch Format Page and instructions and sample.
- Individual fellowships, R36 dissertation grants, and diversity supplements should use the Fellowship Application Biographical Sketch Format Page and related pre-doc and post-doc instructions and samples.
Beginning January 25, 2016 utilize 16-001. The National Science Foundation released the 2016 Grant Proposal Guide 16-001, and provided the following clarifications and modifications to the BioSketch:
- Collaborators & Other Affiliations are no longer required as part of the BioSketch. A new single-copy document is required for each proposal encompassing senior project personnel's collaborators and other affiliations.
- BioSketches must be uploaded individually and associated with the PI, Co-PI, or Senior Personnel's name. This is due to automated compliance checks now in place at NSF.
- The National Science Foundation’s 2016 Grant Proposal Guide provides detailed instruction on the Biographical Sketch requirements.
- The University of Arizona provides NSF BioSketch template.