The past two decades have brought tremendous scientific
advances that can greatly benefit medical research. While
this unprecedented period of progress in the biological,
behavioral, clinical, social, physical, chemical, engineering,
and mathematical sciences will continue into the foreseeable
future, human health and well-being would benefit from
accelerating the current pace of discovery. One way to
achieve this goal is to support scientists of exceptional
creativity who propose highly innovative approaches to
major contemporary challenges in biomedical research.
By bringing their unique perspectives and abilities to
bear on key research questions, these visionary scientists
may develop seminal theories or technologies that will
propel fields forward and speed the translation of research
into improved health.
NIH has traditionally supported research projects, not
individual investigators. However, complementary means
might be necessary to identify scientists with ideas
that have the potential for high impact, but that may
be too novel, span too diverse a range of disciplines,
or be at a stage too early to fare well in the traditional
peer review process.
To address this, the NIH Common Fund created three companion awards, the NIH Director's Pioneer, New Innovator,
and Transformative Research Award, to encourage creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative
ideas about biomedical research. A fourth award in the High-Risk Research Program, the NIH Director's Early
Independence Award (EIA), was created in fiscal year 2011 to support exceptional early career scientists who
possess the intellect, scientific creativity, drive, and maturity to flourish independently immediately following
their graduate training, eliminating the need for traditional post-doctoral training.
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