Native Collective Research Effort to Enhance Wellness (N CREW) Program: Addressing Overdose, Substance Use, Mental Health, and Pain


Please note that N CREW applications are to be submitted through eRA ASSIST. Any disruption of access to other federal application websites (e.g., should not affect eRA ASSIST and N CREW application submissions.


The Research Need

NIH held Tribal Consultations in 2018 and 2022 pdf  377.56 KB to seek input on research needs for addressing opioid misuse and improving pain management in Native communities. Many themes emerged, including the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and local expertise, and the need to invest in research and data led by Tribes and Native American Serving Organizations (T/NASOs). In direct response to priorities identified in Tribal Consultations, the N CREW Program is a highly collaborative partnership between NIH, T/NASOs, and Ally Organizations established to directly respond to the opioid/drug public health emergency.

About the Program

The N CREW Program supports T/NASOs to conduct locally prioritized research to address overdose, substance use, and pain, including related factors such as mental health and wellness. Research led by Native communities is essential for enhancing culturally grounded, strengths-based, effective, and sustainable intervention strategies, ultimately promoting healthy equity.

The N CREW Program has three main goals:

  1. Support T/NASOs to lead community prioritized research projects, including research elevating and integrating Indigenous Knowledge and culture.
  2. Enhance capacity within T/NASOs to conduct locally prioritized research, by developing and providing novel, accessible, culturally grounded technical assistance and training, resources, and tools. 
  3. Improve access to and the quality of data on substance use, pain, and related health and wellbeing factors to maximize their potential for use in local decision-making.

Program Details

The N CREW Program is anticipated as a seven-year program (Fiscal Year 24 - FY30) with two Phases. It is planned as a multi-component Program using a variety of funding mechanisms, which may include Other Transactions, Cooperative Agreements, Contracts and/or Grants over the course of the Program. The overall planned budget for all of the N CREW Program components is approximately $268 million.

Phase I: In June 2023 NIH released two Other Transaction Research Opportunity Announcements (ROAs) to launch Phase I of the N CREW Program. In Phase I, NIH will support approximately two years (FY24 - FY25) of research planning, development, and other activities to provide a foundation from which N CREW Program goals can be attained.

  • ROA OTA-23-007 pdf  423.95 KB solicits applications from T/NASOs for the planning, development, piloting, and/or implementation of research and/or data improvement projects. T/NASOs are defined as federally or state recognized Tribes and organizations with a core mission to serve and/or a track record in serving Native Americans and that are poised to reach this population.
  • ROA OTA-23-008 pdf  429.93 KB solicits applications from T/NASOs and Ally Organizations to form a Native Research Resource Network. Ally Organizations are defined as organizations with a demonstrated track record of partnering successfully with Native American communities. The network will provide comprehensive training and resources to support T/NASOs in real-time as they lead research and data improvement projects. Components of the network will also provide coordination of resources, reporting, and cross-site activities.

The Native Research Resource Network members, T/NASOs, and NIH will collaborate to meet Program objectives throughout Phase I. The overall planned budget for Phase I activities is approximately $25 million.

Phase II: The second Phase is anticipated to begin in FY26 and continue for approximately five years through FY30. Phase II will likely support the implementation of research and/or data improvement projects developed in Phase I. Phase II projects will be individualized to applicants and will build on what is learned and achieved in Phase I. The overall planned budget for Phase II activities is approximately $240 million.

Other Activities: Across Phases I and II, ancillary activities that support achieving overall Program goals may be identified as the Program develops.

Funding Information

Application Process

Applications for ROAs OTA-23-007 pdf  423.95 KB and OTA-23-008 pdf  429.93 KB should be submitted by the proposing entity’s Signing Official (SO) via NIH eRA ASSIST system no later than November 1, 2023 by 5 PM local time. A letter of intent (LOI) is recommended. Email the LOI to [email protected] on or before September 1, 2023. The ROAs provide more detailed information on the application process.

Read the Questions and Answers to learn more about the Program, ROAs, and application process. These will be updated on an ongoing basis. Email [email protected] to schedule a meeting with N CREW Staff.

Key Application Dates

  • Research Opportunity Announcement Released: June 21, 2023
  • Applicants Register in eRA Commons: As soon as possible*
  • Webinar #1 Overview of the N CREW Program: July 27, 2023
  • Webinar #2 Instructions for Using eRA Commons and ASSIST August 30, 2023
  • Letter of Intent Due (Optional): September 1, 2023
  • Webinar #3 Questions and Answers: October 3, 2023
  • Application Submission Due: November 1, 2023
  • Review: January and February 2024
  • Earliest Award Start Date: June 1, 2024

*Note that all applicants must be registered in eRA Commons before submitting their application using ASSIST, which may take between 2-3 weeks or more to complete. Applicants should therefore begin the registration process as soon as possible. Please contact [email protected] if there are issues, after contacting the eRA Service Desk.