NIH requirements

Letters of Support Guidelines

Letters of support (LOS) convey enthusiasm for a project and lend credibility to a proposal. These letters demonstrate institutional buy-in and commitment to the project from key institutions, collaborators, consultants, consortium participants, and others.

Multi-component applications must include institutional support letters at many levels and at least one letter from each subaward site, if applicable. Some FOAs may have specific requirements, particularly for Program Project and Center grants and SBIR/STTR applications.

Common types of LOS include:

  • Institutional letters demonstrate interest in and support of the project. These letters can be from a school, department, division, and any affiliated centers or institutes. The signer should sign on behalf of the institution and have the authority and position to do so.
  • CTSA letters are written for projects that involve CTSA interests, resources and/or researchers. They describe the translational nature of the project and should be used if a project leverages resources and/or infrastructure from the site’s CTSA. Request a UCLA CTSI LOS.
  • Letters from consultants are required for anyone being paid as a consultant on the project’s budget. These letters must detail the proposed amount of effort, the cost, and the scope of work and services being provided.
  • Collaborators typically write letters of support when they are performing significant work for the project but are not key personnel. These letters should describe the collaborator’s expertise and appropriateness for the project.
  • Departmental letters will come from the principal investigators’ department heads and describe how the project’s goals align with the department’s mission. These letters should be signed on behalf of the department.
    • ESIs: Letters for early stage investigators must include a description of departmental support for the ESI, including protected time for research, access to resources, and other means of assistance.
  • Letters of support from advisory boards are used to describe the appropriateness of a board member for a proposed role on the project. They emphasize the board member’s relationship to the principal investigator and project, and they usually include a specific commitment of time/travel. Check the FOA to ensure that advisory board members can be named during the application phase.
  • Community support letters are appropriate for projects with community components or external partnerships with non-traditional research institutions. These letters demonstrate community interest and support.
  • Letters from patient advocates are used when patients are involved in the research strategy. They often include a personal narrative, describe an interest in the project, and detail a commitment of time and travel.
  • When a project includes subaward sites, participants from these sites may provide letters of support that indicate their interest in the project and support for work performed at their institutions. In these letters, it’s important to clarify the role of the signer and his/her relationship to the site lead, as well as any resource commitments being made. These letters can also serve as departmental or institutional letters of support; however, they are typically not signed by key personnel at the site but rather by someone who has the authority to sign on behalf of the institution or department.
    • For international subaward sites, per the September 2023 NIH Final Updated Policy Guidance for Subaward/Consortium Written Agreements, NOT-OD-23-182, NIH expects letters of support from international subrecipient PIs to acknowledge the awareness of, and agreement to comply with, new requirements. The NIH recommends the following language be included in foreign subrecipient letters of support:

      "I agree to provide UCLA access to copies of all lab notebooks, all data, and all documentation that supports the research outcomes as described in the progress report, with a frequency of no less than once per year, in alignment with the timing requirements for Research Performance Progress Report submission. I will work with the UCLA PI before commencing work on the project, to agree to details of how information will be shared, including format, access and frequency."

All letters of support should be combined into a single PDF before uploading to an application. Always check the funding opportunity for additional requirements. Consider creating a table of contents if there are a substantial amount of letters to include. Typically, if applicants are applying for multi-component projects (e.g., U54s, P01s), LOS can be uploaded together in the Overall component OR individually into each component to which the LOS belongs (or both).

Page Limit: None, but individual letters should typically not be longer than 1.5 pages each.