BMC’s Yawkey building doors are now closed as an entrance as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance our campus and provide you with the best clinical care.

All patients and visitors on our main campus must enter our hospital via Shapiro, Menino, or Moakley buildings, where they will be greeted by team members at a new centralized check-in desk before continuing to the hospital. We are excited to welcome you and appreciate your patience as we improve our facilities.

Basic Features of Proposals

Proposals are the standard mechanism through which BMC applies for external funding from a sponsor.  Each proposal is an offer by BMC to complete a specified scope of work for a proposed cost within a given period of time. Proposed work should be achievable and the costs, realistic. Sponsor financial support should cover the full cost of the study, including analysis, reporting, and appropriate overhead.

When a proposal is selected for funding, sponsors may add requirements, impose restrictions, and sometimes change the level of financial support, all of which are formalized in an agreement at the time of award.

BMC Submission Requirements

Proposals must be submitted by the proposed principal investigator or program director (PI/PD) through InfoEd, BMC's grants and contracts system of record, to Sponsored Programs Administration for compliance review before they can be submitted to the sponsor.  Given the need for that review, BMC requires that every proposal be submitted no less than full five business days before the deadline.  For example, if the deadline is Friday, June 1st, and no specific time is noted, the assumption is that the proposal must be submitted by 5 pm, Eastern time, the internal BMC deadline is no later than 8 am, Friday, 25 May.  

For details on the BMC proposal submission process, consult our Proposal Submission Work Guide

See also Types of Applications as delineated by the NIH.

Proposal Types

New Proposals

New proposals can be formal or informal, solicited or unsolicited.

Solicited: Most new proposals are solicited by a sponsor through a Request for Applications (RFA), Request for Proposals (RF), Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), or other similar announcement of proposed funding.  The solicitation spells out the type of project that the sponsor aims to fund and states the relevant parameters, such as eligibility, proposal requirements, and submission deadlines.

Unsolicited: A new proposal may arise when a PI/PD conceives of a project that fits with a sponsor's broad mission and guidelines.  The PI/PD shares the project with the sponsor and, if the sponsor is sufficiently interested, the sponsor may invite the PI/PD to submit a formal proposal.

Informal: A sponsor may invite PI/PDs to submit a concept at the summary level, prior to development, e.g., of a research plan or budget. Also known as a "pre-applications," an informal proposal, if successful, will result in an invitation from the sponsor to submit a full proposal. The informal proposal is subject to the standard BMC reviews, approvals, and submission process. 

Renewal Proposals

A renewal proposal is a request for additional funding and period of performance subsequent to an existing award.  It competes with all other proposals and must be fully developed and accompanied by compelling data.

Continuation Proposals

Continuations apply to multi-year awards, requesting already approved funds for the next year of the project. The progress report summarizes work completed in the current year and outlines the financial status (spending) of the project. This proposal type applies to project and budget years that were approved by the sponsor in the original award. In other words, although a PI/PD may be awarded a multi-year grant, they typically must argue for continuation every year.

Supplemental Proposals

Supplemental proposals request increased support for an existing award. The requested increase would occur in the current budget period and may involve a broadening of the project's originally approved scope, which is tied to the main award. The additional funding will require a full application, including the new budget outlining how the funds will be utilized.  For NIH supplemental proposals, consult their guide.

Proposal Components

Because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is BMC's most prominent funder, below we review the standard NIH proposal components.  But please note: each sponsor's requirements must be consulted carefully to ensure acceptance of a proposal, including those of an individual NIH institute.

Consult the NIH application guide for specific mechanisms.


Taking the time to project costs accurately is essential to proposal development and to the fiscal health to both BMC and the PI/PD's department, and that is just the beginning. A good budget assists sponsor personnel in understanding why the proposed costs are warranted to support the proposed objectives.

Budget sub-components include:

  • Start and end dates that are consistent with sponsor requirements and the project.
  • Named key personnel and, as applicable, subrecipient personnel, and
  • Adherence to indirect cost (IDC) rules, including costs that are not subject to IDC, per federal or sponsor guidelines.

Budget Justification

The budget requires multiple details to justify project costs:

  • Descriptions of the role of each person listed
  • Use of institutional base salary (IBS)
  • Consistency of justification amount and budget breakdowns
  • Full explanation of cost increases and decreases over the course of a multi-year SP
  • Accuracy of references to BMC policy
  • Clear identification of foreign subrecipients, and
  • Detailed description of all non-salary categories.

Research Environment, Facilities and Other Resources

Each proposal includes a section that describes BMC's scientific infrastructure and environment. This section will detail the benefits to the proposed work of BMC's:

  • Institutional support and physical resources
  • Unique patient population, and
  • Collaborative and intellectual rapport within BMC and with Boston University and other institutions.

Biographical Sketches and Other Support

Biographical sketches, often referred to as "biosketches," must adhere to sponsor requirements, including formatting.

Other Support documents are typically requested after the initial proposal submission, at Just-in-Time, unless the proposal is for a training orr mentored grant.  If applicable, this section must be accurate and complete; address effort and financial and scientific overlap; and be signed by the PI/PD. Total effort can never exceed 100% in a 12-month period. Any over commitment must be explained per NIH instructions.

Letters of Support and Letters of Commitment

Support letters must be final and should include original signatures or e-mail time/date stamp and e-signature; commitment letters must be duly authorized and align with proposed budget. Letters addressing proposed consultants should include an hourly rate/charge for their services and the total amount requested.

Scientific Documents

Scientific documents typically Include an abstract, specific aims, and the research strategy:

  • Abstract: a brief and accurate description of the proposed work, able to be understood apart from the application
  • Specific Aims:  concise statement of the goals of the proposed research and summary of expected outcomes
  • Research Strategy: an outline of the significance, the innovation, and the approach of the proposed work.

When BMC is a Subawardee

When BMC is a subawardee to a prime awardee's pass-through sponsored program (SP), the following documents are typically required: