NIH Director's Pioneer Award Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

1.  What is the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award?

2.  What distinguishes this award from traditional NIH grants?

3.  What does it mean that an investigator should pursue a "new research direction?"

4.  How does the NIH Director's Pioneer Award differ from other awards in the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program?

5.  How many awards will be made?

6.  Are women and members of underrepresented minority groups encouraged to apply?

7.  Will another funding opportunity be available next year?

8.  Can someone at NIH review my idea and let me know if it is a good fit for the NIH Director's Pioneer Award?

9.  What is the competition timeline?

Eligibility Requirements

1.  Are individuals at all stages of their careers eligible?

2.  Are foreign scientists eligible?

3.  Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?

4.  Are individuals employed by government agencies, non-academic, and/or for-profit organizations eligible?

5.  Are scientists in the NIH Intramural Program eligible?

6.  Are investigators with other sources of support eligible?

7.  Are postdoctoral fellows eligible?

8.  Is there a limit to the number of applications an institution can submit?

9.  How much time/effort must be devoted to the NIH Director's Pioneer Award project?

10.  Does the level of time/effort needed to support the NIH Director's Pioneer Award project include time needed for teaching, administrative, and/or clinical duties?

11.  May two or more scientists apply as a team for the NIH Director's Pioneer Award?

12.  May I include collaborators and/or consultants on my NIH Director's Pioneer Award?

13.  What scientific areas are eligible to apply for the NIH Director's Pioneer Award?

14.  Will technology development be allowed or just hypothesis-driven research?

15.  Can I work with a collaborator in a foreign country, and would I be able conduct research there?

16.  Is research conducted in a foreign country allowed?

17.  If I am not successful this year, may I reapply next year?

18.  Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

19.  I anticipate switching institutions. Should I apply from my current institution or my future institution?

20.  Can I submit an application that has overlapping aims with an application currently under review?

21.  Can I resubmit an earlier, unsuccessful NIH Director's Pioneer Award application?

22.  Can I resubmit an earlier, unsuccessful application from another funding opportunity?

Application & Submission

1.  What are the important dates for applications?

2.  Will late applications be accepted?

3.  Can I receive a submission extension if serving as an NIH peer reviewer or in an NIH Advisory Group?

4.  Is a letter of intent (LOI) required to apply for this award?

5.  What must be done before I submit an application to

6.  Where can I find help registering for

7.  Where can I find help in submitting my application to

8.  Where can I find help in registering for the eRA Commons?

9.  How should documents be formatted?

10.  What is the purpose of designating two Areas of Science?

11.  Where do I designate the Areas of Science for my application?

12.  What are the Areas of Science?

13.  May I designate more than two Areas of Science?

14.  Can someone at the NIH help me select the my Areas of Science?

15.  Are detailed budgets required?

16.  Does the five-page essay replace the traditional “Research Plan?"

17.  Are citations (references) allowed?

18.  Are figures and illustrations allowed in the essay?

19.  May I include movies, either as a link to a website or as a CD, with my application?

20.  Where should the effort commitment statement be provided?

21.  May I include additional information in an appendix?

22.  May I submit new data after submitting my application?

23.  What documents are needed for the application?

24.  Can I revise and resubmit if my application is not funded?


1.  How is the budget request for this award mechanism different from other NIH grants?

2.  How much can be requested?

3.  How do I put together a budget request?

4.  Can the project be for less than five years?

5.  Are indirect costs provided in the award?

6.  Should indirect costs related to subcontracts be included in the overall direct costs?

7.  May a collaborator be funded on the award?

Letters of Reference

1.  Are letters of reference required?

2.  What is the difference between a letter of reference and a letter of support?

3.  Can I include “letters of support/collaboration” for my research?

4.  From whom should I request letters of reference?

5.  May I ask more than three individuals to submit letters for my application?

6.  May a single letter of reference come from more than one individual?

7.  How do my referees submit their letters in support of my application?

8.  Will I be notified when letters are submitted?

9.  How can I check the status of my letters of reference?

Review & Selection

1.  How will awardees be selected?

2.  What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?

3.  Which review criteria will be emphasized?

4.  Will the reviewers be experts in the topic of my application?

5.  May I suggest specific reviewers for my application?

6.  What happens at the interview?

7.  Will I receive a summary statement or other comments?

8.  When will the awardees be announced?

9.  Can the decision of the panel of reviewers be appealed?

Award Administration

1.  What requirements must I fulfill during the term of the award?

2.  How will the award be administered?

3.  Do I need to submit an annual progress report?

4.  Should I mention NIH support in journal articles that pertain to research supported with my NIH Director's Pioneer Award?

5.  Should I notify the NIH of any note-worthy publications or media coverage of my research?

6.  Am I required to submit my journal manuscripts to PubMed Central?

7.  Are there annual meetings I am required to attend?

8.  Are these awards renewable?

9.  Is it possible to request a no-cost extension at the end of the grant period if there are unexpended funds?

10.  Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

This page last reviewed on June 15, 2017