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College of Arts and Sciences


The I-Review program is intended for IMB affiliates submitting external grant applications to improve their submissions by obtaining feedback from expert reviewers.


How it works

The IMB affiliate will submit a draft of their grant, along with the names of some potential reviewers. Upon acceptance, the IMB will contact and obtain a written review from a qualified reviewer who will be compensated for their time. Typically, an external reviewer will be used for large (>100K) grants, while services of an internal reviewer will be obtained for smaller grants. The investigator can then use the review to improve their application before submission. The submission to IMB is expected to be at least 6 weeks prior to the (internal) due date of the grant. Please note that acceptance is subject to availability of funds to compensate reviewers, which will be spent on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis.

Who is eligible

Any IMB affiliate, including tenure-track faculty, research faculty, postdocs, and graduate students, submitting an external grant totaling $25K or more (total amount including direct and indirect costs combining all years) is eligible. This includes applications to agencies such as NIH, NSF, and research foundations. The IMB affiliate must be a PI, Co-PI, or Co-I on the grant. The grant may have other PIs or Co-Is who are not part of the IMB. Those already participating in other initiatives, such as the PROPEL program, are eligible. Those applying for USC-internal grants, such as ASPIRE, are not eligible. This program is intended only for individuals who have identified a specific funding mechanism and are in the final stages of preparing a specific application. It is not suitable for obtaining feedback on possible research plans for future potential or unspecified applications. 

How to apply

  • Use this link to apply:
  • You should submit the main body of the grant containing the research plan (e.g., Specific Aims and Research Strategy pages for an NIH application) in a single pdf file. Other components of the proposal, such as biosketches, facilities and equipment, etc. can be submitted as part of the same file, but are not required.
  • It is understandable that the research plan may not be in a completely finalized state at the time of this submission. To the extent possible, include the best version of materials and details of the research plan, so that useful feedback can be obtained. The page limit and other requirements (e.g., margins, font size) are the same as those of the intended grant mechanism (e.g., 1 page for Specific Aims and 6 pages for Research Plan in an R21 application).
  • For large (> 100K) grants, also submit names of at least 3 external reviewers who can be potential reviewers for the grant. These should be experienced experts in the field who have obtained research funding themselves. Avoid individuals who you know are currently serving on the grant review panels that your grant is likely to go to, as it may create a conflict of interest. Former panel members, especially ones who have recently stepped down, can in fact be good reviewers as they have current understanding of the review process and do not necessarily have a conflict of interest unless they are called to serve as ad-hoc members. In cases where the granting agency makes review panels public, applicants are encouraged to look for members in their area who have recently rotated off the panel and suggest their names.
  • For small (< 100K) grants, submit names of one or two USC faculty who may have relevant expertise but are not affiliated with the grant.

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