Internal Scientific Review Process


Johns Hopkins University Faculty members applying for funding in the area of HIV/AIDS are able to request an internal scientific review of their grant application. Internal Scientific Review is NOT available for the CFAR Faculty Development or International Research Awards. However, assistance or review of applications for CFAR funding is available through the CFAR Request Services Form.


  1. The specific aims of a project must have been previously reviewed by the CFAR, either through a Specific Aims Lightning Round or through a request to the Developmental Core and feedback must have been incorporated into the current proposal. It is strongly recommended that this occur AT LEAST 3 months prior to a NIH submission deadline to allow time to consider feedback and meet with your mentors.
    1. At any point in the year, you may e-mail your specific aims to and request a review.
    2. Throughout the year, the CFAR will offer Specific Aims Lightning Rounds where you will have the opportunity to submit your aims to an open review and interactive session with 2 senior faculty members and a group of your peers.  These will be announced through the CFAR mailing list and on the website.
  2. AT LEAST six weeks before the internal grant deadline (date due to ORA), you may submit your specific aims and research project plan to the CFAR (  It does not have to be the final version, but it should be fully developed.
  3. You must also include a cover letter stating:
  • Your name, affiliation, contact information
  • Type of grant and PA number
  • Internal grant deadline (date due to ORA)
  • Title of study
  • Co-investigators
  • Mentor
  • Any areas of particular need of review that the applicant feels would be helpful
  • Suggestions for reviewers (not guaranteed to be assigned)
  1. The Developmental Core with the Executive Committee will assign reviewers based on topic.  Two reviewers will evaluate the proposal and provide written feed back to the applicant.  A call or face-to-face meeting may be offered by the reviewers, but will otherwise be anonymous.  The CFAR administrator is available to assist with compiling the comments, scheduling calls, etc.

**If there is a large number of applications within a similar discipline, a study section style of review may be utilized.

Please note: If you would like a biostatistics or ethics consult, this should take place well before the scientific review via the CFAR services request process.

Standard AIDS Deadlines

Application Deadline

CFAR Internal Grant Review Deadline

Suggested Deadline for Aims Review

January 7th

November 12th (little more than 6 weeks due to holidays)

October 7th

May 7th

March 19th

February 7th

September 7th

July 21st

June 7th


Review Criteria

NIH review criteria should be used by the reviewers, however unlike a NIH review, no scoring will take place and suggestions for improvement in the proposal are encouraged. A review template is available but is not required.

  1. Significance: Does this study address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that drive this field?
  2. Approach: Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
  3. Innovation: Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches or method? Are the aims original and innovative? Does the project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?
  4. Investigator: Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers (if any)?
  5. Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed experiments take advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?
  6. Transdisciplinary nature of the research.  Proposals which successfully bring more than one scientific discipline to bear on research questions of interest will receive additional partial point scoring to encourage transdisciplinary research.

Download the CFAR Internal Scientific Review flyer here.


Requests for additional information questions about the process may be directed to:

Anne R. Efron, MSN, MPH
CFAR Project Administrator
Ph: (410) 502-2803