Comparison of NIH Director's Awards in the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program

  Pioneer Award New Innovator Award Transformative Research Award Early Independence Award
Target Group Individuals of exceptional creativity proposing paradigm-shifting research Individual early stage investigators of exceptional creativity proposing research of uncommonly high potential impact Individuals or teams proposing transformative research with potentially very large budgets Outstanding junior scientists wishing to "skip the post-doc" and begin independent research immediately
Eligibility Open to all career stages
  • Receipt of most recent doctoral degree (e.g., PhD, MD, DDS, DVM, PharmD, or equivalent) or completion of medical internship and residency no more than 10 years prior to application submission date
  • Must be a "new investigator" (never been awarded an R01 or equivalent NIH grant)
Open to all career stages
  • Candidate must receive terminal research degree or complete medical residency within 15 months before or 12 months after application submission date
  • Maximum of 2 applications per institution (or grant submitting entity)
  • Candidate must be in non-independent position at time of application
Preliminary Data Not required; may be included Not required; may be included Not required; may be included Not as stringent as conventional R01
Research Strategy 5-page essay includes response to questions about the challenge, potential impact, suitability for the award, and how the research qualifies as new research direction 10-page essay addresses significance and potential impact, innovativeness of approaches, how risks and challenges will be addressed, and investigator qualifications for the award 12-page limit; respond to questions about the challenge, potential impact, and appropriateness for the award 12-page limit; in addition, host institution must provide details of commitment
Reference Letters 3 letters required None accepted None accepted 3-5 letters required
Effort Minimum of 51% research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award for first 3 years, followed by 33% effort in year 4, and 25% effort in year 5 Minimum of 25% research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award Effort should be commensurate with project needs and follow general guidelines for other NIH projects of similar size, complexity, and duration 80% effort to research supported by the award for first 2 years, followed by 80% effort towards independent research in general
Budget
  • No detailed budget information submitted
  • Awards up to $700,000 per year for each of 5 years, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs
  • No detailed budget information submitted
  • Awards up to $1,500,000 disbursed in the first year of the 5-year project period, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs
  • No limits up to the maximum funds available for the program as a whole
  • No prior approvals required for budgets over $500,000 per year for direct costs
Awards up to $250,000 per year for up to 5 years, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs
Multiple PIs Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application More than one PD/PI allowed Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application
Review Format Multi-phased, interview of finalists Multi-phased, "editorial board" Multi-phased, "editorial board" Multi-phased, "editorial board," interview of finalists

 

This page last reviewed on May 17, 2017