High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program

Funding opportunities for outstanding scientists at all career stages

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program supports exceptionally creative scientists pursuing highly innovative research with the potential for broad impact in biomedical, behavioral, or social sciences within the NIH mission. The program's four constituent NIH Director's awards provide a diverse set of funding opportunities.

NIH Director's Pioneer Award NIH Director's New Innovator Award NIH Director's Transformative Research Award NIH Director's Early Independence Award
For scientists with outstanding records of creativity pursuing pioneering approaches to major challenges For exceptionally creative early career scientists proposing innovative, high-impact projects For individuals or teams proposing groundbreaking, unconventional research with the potential to create new scientific paradigms For exceptional junior scientists bypassing postdoctoral training to launch independent research careers
  • Open to all career stages
  • Single PD/PI
  • Must be new research direction
  • Requires major portion of research effort (at least 51%)
  • $3.5 million for 5 years
  • Open to all career stages
  • Single or multiple PDs/PIs
  • Flexible budget for 5 years
  • Must complete doctoral degree or clinical training within ~1 year of applying
  • Single PD/PI
  • Must be in non-independent research position at time of application
  • Limited to 2 applications per institution
  • $1.25 million for 5 years

Funding Opportunities

FY Pioneer Award New Innovator
Award
Transformative
Research Award
Early Independence
Award
2021 RFA-RM-20-011
Closed September 11, 2020
 
Notice of Clarification for Post-Submission Material Policy During COVID-19 Pandemic
RFA-RM-20-012
Closed August 21, 2020
 
Notice of Clarification for Post-Submission Material Policy During COVID-19 Pandemic

Non-COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-013
Closed September 30, 2020
 

COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-020
Closed September 30, 2020
 

Notice of Clarification for Post-Submission Material Policy During COVID-19 Pandemic

Non-COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-014
Closed September 4, 2020
 

COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-021
Closed September 4, 2020
 

Notice of Clarification for Post-Submission Material Policy During COVID-19 Pandemic

Announcements

Q&A Webinars

Pre-application interactive Q&A webinars were held for the four awards. NIH program and review staff discussed the funding opportunities and answered questions from prospective applicants. Videos and slides of the webinars are now available. Audio described versions of the webinars are forthcoming and will be posted when available. If you need assistance before the audio described versions are posted, please contact us at PioneerAwards@mail.nih.gov.

NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (RFA-RM-20-011) – June 26, 2020

Click to download slides of Pioneer Award webinar presentations

NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (RFA-RM-20-012) - June 25, 2020

Click to download slides of New Innovator Award webinar presentations

NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award (RFA-RM-20-013) and NIH Director’s Emergency Transformative Research Award (RFA-RM-20-020) – June 29, 2020

Click to download Transformative Research Award webinar presentations

NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (RFA-RM-20-014) and NIH Director’s Emergency Early Independence Award (RFA-RM-20-021) – June 29, 2020

Click to download Early Independence Award webinar presentations

Pioneer Award

New Innovator Award

Transformative Research Award

  • An anonymized review process will be piloted for RFA-RM-20-013 and RFA-RM-20-020. See the funding opportunity announcements for more information on the review process.
  • New Application & Award Guidance is available with more information on how to apply and sample applications.

Early Independence Award

What Is the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program? (1 minute video)

An audio-described version of this video is also available.


 

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This page last reviewed on October 23, 2020