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NIH Biosketch: Home

NIH and AHRQ will require use of the new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015


Most grant applications require a Biographical Sketch ("biosketch"), an abbreviated record of your accomplishments. If you are engaged in research, even as a collaborator, you will need a biosketch. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Biographical Sketch is the most common format. It is similar to a CV but limited to five (5) pages with information pertinent to the application.

You can create a NIH biosketch online using SciENcv (Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae) to integrate information from your NIH eRA Commons profile and your bibliography in MyNCBI.

The NIH biosketch has recently been revised and the new format must be used for all applications submitted to NIH after May 25, 2015. In addition to biographical information, the biosketch must include the following sections:

  • Personal Statement, which must be targeted to the specific grant application
  • Positions and Honors
  • Scientific Contributions, up to five descriptions, each supported by up to four references
  • Research Support, a selected list of ongoing and completed research projects
  • Link (URL) to a full list of your published work as found in a publicly available digital database such asMyNCBI.

What is the New NIH Biosketch

NIH and AHRQ will require use of the new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015. Between now and that time, applicants will have the choice of using the old or new Biosketch format.

NIH and AHRQ will require use of a new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015. Between now and that time, applicants will have the choice of using the old or new biosketch format. - See more at:
NIH and AHRQ will require use of a new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015. Between now and that time, applicants will have the choice of using the old or new biosketch format. - See more at:

The new Biosketch will:

  • extend the page limit from four to five
  • allow researchers to describe up to five most significant contributions to science along with the historical background that framed their research (Contributions to Science, Section C)
  • include a link to works from My Bibliography


NIH believes that the new Biosketch will:

  • offer reviewers a better picture of a researcher's accomplishments and capabilities
  • help illuminate the downstream effects of scientific discovery

What's Different?

  • Page limit from four to five pages.

  • Include up to four publications in the Personal Statement. NOTE: This is not required.

  • “Contributions to Science” section. Up to five contributions allowed.The description of each contribution should be no longer than one half page including citations.

  • Include up to four publications or other “work products” for each “contribution.”

  • Include a URL to list of published work. NOTE: This is not required.

  • No “Selected List of Peer-reviewed Publications” section.

New NIH Biosketch Notes

  • There are no immediate plans to withdraw the Word Template for the new biosketch format. [Source: NIH]
  • SciENcv is optional and is intended to be a helpful tool for applicants. [Source: NIH]
  • The publications for the Personal Statement must be peer-reviewed journal articles and can include "non-applicant authored publications."  Listing a key publication that builds on the the applicant's work is one way of doing so. [Source: NIH] AS OF 25 MAY 2016, peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles and research products can be cited in the Personal Statement. 
  • Manuscripts being prepared or under peer review can be described in the Personal Statement, (e.g. “I am preparing a manuscript for Journal on my work about X”). [Source: NIH]
  • Listing of publications in the Personal Statement is NOT required. [Source: NIH] 
  • NIH prefers applicants use the My Bibliography URL for a List of Published Works as NIH can assure reviewers that their anonymity will be protected if they review publications at that site. However, a URL to a list of published works is NOT required. [Source:NIH] AS OF 25 MAY 2016, the URL for a publication list is optional and, if provided, must be to a government website (.gov) such as My Bibliography.
  • Only one URL is allowed in the Biosketch. Any URLs other than the List of Published Works to a government website will not be allowed. [Source: NIH]
  • Publications and research products can be re-used within the same Biosketch among the Contributions. Up to five Contributions are allowed. [Source: NIH]
  • Contributions can include non-applicant authored publications and research products.



  • Posters and presentations are considered non-publication research products. [Source: NIH]
  • There is no preferred order as to the Contributions. [Source: NIH]
  • For guidance on Contributions to Science, contact the Program Director at the NIH institute/center (I/C) supporting or most likely to support your award. [Source: NIH]
  • You will not be able to create a Biosketch using the current NIH Biosketch template in SciENcv as of 25 May 2015. But  you will have access to any saved Biosketches in your SciENcv account after 25 May 2015. You can use these to create new biosketches in NSF or "new" NIH formats. [Source: NIH]
  • SciENcv users can also create Biosketches using data stored in their ORCID records. By linking an ORCID account to an NCBI account, users will be able to auto-populate Biosketches using the personal statement, education, employment, publications and research awards information stored in ORCID records. See My NCBI – ORCID Author Data Integration with SciENcv.
  • Follow rules for formatting such as font type, font size, paper size and margins. See Section 2.6 of the Application Guide.
  • As of 25 May 2016, NO graphics, figures and tables are allowed in the Biosketch.

Tips: Biosketch

  • Start now on the new biosketch.  The process of making your own new Biosketch will take time. To do it right will take you some hours of work. Here’s the NIH instructions and an example of a new biosketch.
  • Update your "My Bibliography page" in the MY NCBI section of PubMed. NIH, which has always in the past prohibited any web links in proposals, now requires one in your new Biosketch in the form of your link to your My Bibliography page on NCBI. This means that you need to update your My Bibliography to reflect all your publications. Don’t know what a My Bibliography page is? Contact the Library to set up your "My NCBI" account in PubMed.
  • New NIH BiosketchWhere exactly to find your My Bibliography link? See screen shot from my My NCBI page. You can cut and paste it into your Biosketch.
  • Check that your My Bibliography link actually works. As the My Bibliography page, you have to chose to "make public" to get the link. 
  • Use that new 5-page limit wisely. The new format allows for 5 pages instead of 4 pages. As always you do not have to fill all the allowed pages, but given the new format it might be wise to make use of some of the extra space. Again this will take time and thought.
  • What are your top 24 publications? In the new Biosketch you can in theory list up to 24 publications instead of just 15. These 24 pubs include 4 in section A (Personal statement) that most directly relate to the proposal plus up to 4 each in up to 5 areas of contributions to science.
  • Wanna list the same pub(s) in both Sections A and C? While there is no official policy on re-listing the same pubs twice in the new Biosketch, it may be the best solution to turn to if find that some of the same publications fit both into Section A and into part of Section C. 
  • What are your top few specific contributions to science? The Biosketch gives you an entire section, Section C, to describe up to 5 of your hopefully transformative contributions to science. The tricky part, of course, is to find the right balance between tooting your own horn appropriately and seeming like a show off. Since this is a new Biosketch format, it remains to be seen how study sections will react to this new Section C that in an unprecedented way invites researchers to talk about themselves and their science in more depth.
  • Give each of your top contributions to science and their respective subsections a title. The NIH doesn’t mention this nor does the example they give do this, but I recommend giving each of your subsections in Part C its own title. 1. Cured Cancer. 2. Developed safe and effective Ebola Vaccine. 3. Won Nobel Prize. You get the idea from these silly examples.
  • Get feedback. This new format is going to throw many people including reviewers for a loop and it’s hard to judge what is “right” and “wrong” on this. What this means is that getting feedback from colleagues and mentors is more important than ever. Aim for balance.

SciENcv Tool

Podcasts and Webinars

From the All About Grants:

Dr. Neil Thakur, special assistant to the NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, and Dr. Bart Trawick, literature database lead at the NIH National Library of Medicine, are guests on two podcasts about the new NIH biosketch and SciENcv.

Learn about the modified format for the NIH biosketch, which will be required for NIH applications submitted on or after May 25, 2015, and the origin of the Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae tool, also known as “SciENcv“, help with the creation of biosketches for NIH and NSF applications.

From NCBI:

Suggestions for Researchers

1. Create a My NCBI account and link the account to your eRA Commons account.

2.  Populate your My Bibliography and keep the publication and research products list updated.

3. Play around with SciENcv. See which parts of the new Biosketch are auto-populated.

4. Try creating a Biosketch with data from ORCIDeRA Commons and My Bibliography.

5. Assign delegates to help manage your My Bibliography and SciENcv.

6. Consider a hybrid approach of using the Word Template and SciENcv.

Advice for New Investigators Using the New Biosketch

  •  Review the instructions in the Application Guide, and in the biosketch templates:

o   General Biosketch

o   Fellowship Biosketch (Pre-doctoral)

o   Fellowship Biosketch (Post-doctoral)

  • Populate a My Bibliography account with citations to your journal articles and other research products.

  • Advice for new scientists on the contributions to science narratives is available on the NIH Biosketch FAQs:

What advice do you have for new scientists filling out their scientific contributions?

It is a little early to tell how each discipline will judge its new scientists. You might want to consult with your colleagues who serve as reviewers in your area of science. In general, reviewers base their expectations for contributions based on the seniority of the person filling out the biosketch. A scientist with one publication may want to summarize the key finding of the paper and its importance in a short contribution. Scientists with no publications may wish to provide a contribution describing their efforts on other peoples’ papers and projects (e.g., I used this method, I conducted the literature review for this paper, I care for all the animals in this lab, etc.). If a new scientist has no actual research or thesis experience, they might just want to list one contribution about their training to date.

  • Discuss your contributions to science narratives with:

o   mentors and colleagues

o   investigators who serve as members of study sections for NIH applications

o   NIH Program Directors associated with the agency or institute likely to fund your research

New Updates for NIH Biosketch

Updated instructions for the Biosketch for applications with due dates on or after May 25, 2016:

1. A URL for a publication list is optional and, if provided, must be to a government website (.gov) such as My Bibliography.
2. Peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles and research products are allowed in both the personal statement and the contributions to science sections.
3. Graphics, figures and tables are not allowed.

NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications

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