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
Research Award
Early Independence
2020 RFA-RM-19-005
Closed September 6, 2019
Closed August 26, 2019
Closed September 20, 2019
Closed September 13, 2019

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 March 31, 2020