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Creating an NIH Biosketch

A guide to best practices for creating an NIH Biosketch.

Contribution to Science

In the Contribution to Science section, applicants may list up to five significant contributions. The description of each contribution should be no longer than one half page, including citations. 

For each contribution, indicate the following: 

  • the historical background that frames the scientific problem 
  • the central finding(s) 
  • the influence of the finding(s) on the progress of science or the application of those finding(s) to health or technology 
  • and your specific role in the described work

Figures, tables, or graphics are not allowed. Descriptions of contributions may include a mention of research products under development, such as manuscripts that have not yet been accepted for publication. These contributions do not have to be related to the project proposed in this application, just to the specific contribution to science under discussion.

For each of these contributions, you can reference up to four relevant publications or non-publication research products. If you are not the author of the product, indicate what your role or contribution was. Note that while you may mention manuscripts in the narrative that have not yet been accepted for publication as part of your contribution, you may cite only published papers to support each contribution. You are allowed to cite interim research products as mentioned in the personal statement section, but remember that they have specific citation requirements.  

While all applicants may describe up to five contributions, graduate students and postdoctorates may wish to consider highlighting two or three they consider most significant. In general, reviewers base their expectations for contributions on the seniority of the person filling out the biosketch. You might want to consult with your colleagues who serve as reviewers in your area of science with regard to the contributions that you highlight on your biosketch.

If you are early in your career, the NIH provides these recommendations with regard to the contribution to science section:

  • 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 may want to list one contribution about their training to date 
  • You might want to consult with your colleagues who serve as reviewers in your area of science 


  • Consider including a leading statement in bold at the beginning of contribution description.