Many new investigators have exceptionally innovative research ideas, but not the preliminary data required to fare well in the traditional NIH peer review system. As part of NIH's commitment to increasing opportunities for new scientists, it has created the NIH Director's New Innovator Award to support exceptionally creative new investigators who propose highly innovative projects that have the potential for unusually high impact. This award complements ongoing efforts by NIH and its institutes and centers to fund new investigators through R01 grants and other mechanisms.
The NIH Director's New Innovator Award program is different from traditional NIH grants in several ways. It is designed specifically to support unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas at an early stage of their career when they may lack the preliminary data required for an R01 grant. The emphasis is on innovation and creativity; preliminary data are not required, but may be included. No detailed, annual budget is requested in the application. The procedure for evaluating applicants' qualifications is distinct from the traditional NIH peer review “study section” process and will emphasize the individual’s creativity, the innovativeness of the research approaches, and the potential of the project, if successful, to have a significant impact on an important biomedical or behavioral research problem.