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Pioneer Award Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. What is the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award?
  2. What distinguishes the Pioneer Award from traditional NIH programs?
  3. Pioneer Awards are meant to support investigators who intend to pursue new research directions. Can you clarify what is meant by a "new research direction"?
  4. How does the 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 for the Pioneer Award next year?
  8. Can someone at NIH review my idea and let me know if it is a good fit for the Pioneer Award?
  9. What is the competition timeline?

Eligibility

  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 individuals who have other support eligible? If so, may the awardee remain as principal investigator on his/her grant(s)?
  7. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow. Am I eligible to apply for the Pioneer Award?
  8. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?
  9. How much time/effort must be devoted to the Pioneer Award project?
  10. Does the level of time/effort needed to support the 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 Pioneer Award?
  12. What scientific areas are eligible to apply for the Pioneer Award?
  13. Will technology development be allowed or just hypothesis-driven research?
  14. I am working with a collaborator in another country. Would I be able to continue to spend some time conducting research there?
  15. I am conducting research in another country. Would I be able to continue this research under a Pioneer Award?
  16. If I am not successful this year, may I reapply next year?
  17. Is the award transferable if I change institutions?
  18. I am transferring to a different institution soon. Should I apply from my current institution or my new institution?
  19. Can I submit an application that has overlapping aims with an application currently under review?
  20. Can I resubmit an earlier, unsuccessful Pioneer application?
  21. 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. I am serving in the NIH peer review process and/or in an NIH Advisory Group. Can I receive an extension on the submission deadline?
  4. Is a letter of intent (LOI) required to apply for this award?
  5. What must be done before I submit an application to Grants.gov?
  6. Where can I find help registering for Grants.gov?
  7. Where can I find help in submitting my application to Grants.gov?
  8. Where can I find help in registering for the eRA Commons?
  9. What format should I use for the documents submitted with my application to Grants.gov (abstract, public health relevancy statement, facilities and other resources, essay, biographical sketch, current research support)?
  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. I cannot determine the best fit for my Area of Science designations. What should I do?
  15. The application package that I downloaded from Grants.Gov does not include budget pages. Are detailed budgets required? Where do I indicate indirect costs?
  16. Does the five-page essay replace the traditional “Research Plan” (with “Specific Aims”) or is it to be submitted in addition to that section?
  17. In my essay, may I include citations (references) to key publications? If so, what is the appropriate format?
  18. May I include figures and illustrations in my 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 (statement confirming that if chosen to receive an award, the applicant will commit a minimum of 51% of their research efforts to Pioneer Award activities) be provided in the application?
  21. May I include additional information in an appendix? I need additional space for my list of references, etc.
  22. I have obtained important new preliminary data that will strengthen the application I have already submitted. May I submit these data now?
  23. What documents are needed for the application?
  24. If my application is not funded, will I have an opportunity to revise and resubmit?

Budget

  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? The proposed project can be completed in less time.
  5. Are indirect costs provided in the award?
  6. Must the indirect costs related to subcontracts be included in the overall direct costs for the award?
  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 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?

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General Questions

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

    The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, established in 2004, is part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program overseen by the Common Fund. The Pioneer Award supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity proposing innovative, high-impact approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research.
     

  2. What distinguishes the Pioneer Award from traditional NIH programs?

    The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award is different in several ways. It is designed to support a small number of investigators of exceptional creativity who propose bold and highly innovative research approaches with a high-impact on significant problems in biomedical and behavioral research. The actual project proposal in the application is highly abbreviated. The procedure for evaluating applicants is distinct from the traditional NIH peer review process and emphasizes the individual’s potential to make seminal contributions toward solving significant biomedical or behavioral research problems; the innovativeness, significance, and potential impact of the project; the likelihood that the project would not be supported through more traditional funding mechanisms; and whether it represents a significant departure from the applicant’s ongoing research.
     

  3. Pioneer Awards are meant to support investigators who intend to pursue new research directions. Can you clarify what is meant by a “new research direction"?

    A new research direction is one that is distinct from any research currently or previously conducted by the applicant or by other investigators. Successful Pioneer Award applicants are expected to propose highly innovative, and possibly risky, approaches to address or solve exceptionally important problems in biomedical or behavioral sciences. While a new research direction may have as its foundation the applicant’s prior work and expertise, it cannot simply be an obvious extension or scaling up of a research enterprise. Rather, a new research direction must reflect a fundamental new insight into the solution of a problem, which may derive from the development of exceptionally innovative approaches and/or from the posing of radically unconventional hypotheses.
     

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

     

    Pioneer Award

    New Innovator Award

    Transformative Research Awards

    Early Independence Award

    Target group

    Individuals of exceptional creativity proposing highly innovative research

    Individual early stage investigators of exceptional creativity proposing research of uncommonly high potential impact

    Individuals or teams proposing transformative research with perhaps very large budgets

    Outstanding junior scientists wishing to “skip the post-doc” and immediately begin independent research

    Eligibility

    • Open to all career stages; early and middle career particularly encouraged to apply
    • Must currently be engaged in research
    • No U.S. citizenship or residency requirement
    • Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions not eligible
    • Receipt of most recent doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.V.M., Pharm.D., or equivalent) or completion of medical internship and residency no more than 10 years prior to application receipt date
    • Must be a “new investigator” (never been awarded an R01 or equivalent NIH grant)
    • No U.S. citizenship or residency requirement
    • Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions not eligible
      • Open to all career stages
      • Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions not eligible
      • Candidate must receive terminal research degree or complete medical residency within 12 months (before or after) of 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 Pioneer Award program, candidate's innovativeness, and how research qualifies as new research direction

      10-page essay addresses significance and potential impact; innovativeness of approaches and how risks and challenges will be addressed; and investigator qualifications for the award

      Recommended 10-page limit (12 pages max); respond to questions about the approach, appropriateness for the Transformative Research Award, and timeline

      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% (major portion) of research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award

      Minimum of 25% of 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

      Large fraction of total effort

      Budget

      • No budget information submitted
      • Awards will be for up to $700,000 per year for five years, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs
      • No budget information submitted
      • Awards will be for $1,500,000 dispersed 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 approval required for large budgets (over $500,000 for direct costs per year)

      Up to $250,000 per year for up to five 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

      Two-phases, including interview of finalists

      Two-phases, “editorial board”

      Three-phases, “editorial board"

      Multi-phased, “editorial board,” interview of finalists

       

    • How many awards will be made?

      The NIH expects to make approximately 7 awards in FY 2017, depending on the quality of applications and the availability of funds.
       

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

      Yes. The NIH strongly encourages women and members of groups that are underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research to apply.
       

    • Will another funding opportunity be available for the Pioneer Award next year?

      Yes, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we anticipate releasing a funding opportunity for the next fiscal year. To receive funding announcements and other Common Fund news, register for the Common Fund LISTSERV, or check out the Pioneer Award website.
       

    • Can someone at NIH review my idea and let me know if it is a good fit for the Pioneer Award?

      Questions about the scope and intent of the Pioneer Award should be directed to Dr. Ravi Basavappa in the NIH Office of the Director at 301-435-7204 or at PioneerAwards@mail.nih.gov. Email inquiries are strongly preferred. For applications involving clinical research, applicants should contact program staff at the appropriate NIH Institute or Center (IC) to assure compliance with IC-specific policies regarding clinical research.
       

    • What is the competition timeline?
       
      Funding Year 2016
      Open Date (Earliest Submission Date) September 9, 2015
      Application Due Date October 9, 2016
      Scientific Merit Review Phase I Spring 2016
      Scientific Merit Review Phase II (Interviews) May 2016
      Council of Councils Review June 2016
      Award Notifications Late August 2016
      Earliest Start Date September 2016

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Eligibility

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

      Yes, individuals at all career stages are eligible to apply.
       

    2. Are foreign scientists eligible?

      Yes. There is no citizenship or residency requirement. However, applicants must be conducting their research and holding an independent position at a U.S. institution that is eligible to apply. Non-domestic (non-U.S.) entities (Foreign Organizations) are not eligible to apply.
       

    3. Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?

      No. You may apply only if you are at an institution in the United States or its territories.
       

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

      Individuals from U.S. organizations that can otherwise apply for NIH funding are eligible to apply.
       

    5. Are scientists in the NIH Intramural Program eligible?

      No, NIH intramural scientists are not eligible to apply for the Pioneer Award.
       

    6. Are individuals who have other support eligible? If so, may the awardee remain as principal investigator on his/her grant(s)?

      Individuals who have other support are eligible for this award and may continue as principal investigator on other grants. However, awardees are expected to devote at least 51% of their research time/effort to activities supported by the Pioneer Award. Since the Pioneer Awards are expected to support distinctly new research, awards will not be made simply to enable investigators to expand research projects that are ongoing.
       

    7. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow. Am I eligible to apply for the Pioneer Award?

      While there are no career stage eligibility criteria, applicants must be able to show concrete evidence for their claim of innovativeness. This could be very difficult for a postdoctoral fellow who has never conducted independent research. In addition, like all NIH grants, the Pioneer Awards are made to institutions on behalf of investigators. Because most institutions will only authorize grant applications from individuals who are independent investigators, this could present an administrative barrier to applying. Outstanding, highly innovative early stage and junior investigators may want to consider applying for the New Innovator Award or Early Independence Award as appropriate.
       

    8. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?

      No, there is no limit to the number of applications that an institution can submit. However, an investigator may submit only one application per receipt date.
       

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

      Awardees are expected to commit the major portion (at least 51%) of their research time/effort to activities supported by the Pioneer Award in the first three years of the project. A minimum of 35% of research effort is required in year 4, and 25% effort in year 5. This does not include efforts toward teaching, clinical, and/or administrative duties. Investigators should not apply if they are unable to commit the major portion of their research effort to the Pioneer project.
       

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

      No. The minimum 51% level of effort only applies to your total research time/effort. If you spend 50% of your time doing research and the remaining 50% teaching, you would be required to devote at least 51% of your research time only (which is 26% of your total time).
       

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

      No. Only a single investigator is allowed on the application (co-PIs and multiple PIs are not accepted). However, collaborations and consultants are allowed and may be funded on the Pioneer Award (can be described in the Research Strategy essay).
       

    12. What scientific areas are eligible to apply for the Pioneer Award?

      The NIH encourages applications from scientists from all disciplines, including the biological, behavioral, clinical, social, physical, chemical, computational, engineering, and mathematical sciences, who provide evidence of interest in exploring topics of relevance to the NIH mission.
       

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

      Applications proposing hypothesis-driven research and those proposing the development of new tools and technologies are both encouraged. The focus is on impact and innovation.
       

    14. I am working with a collaborator in another country. Would I be able to continue to spend some time conducting research there?

      The PI of a Pioneer Award must be employed by a U.S. institution, and the research must be conducted at that institution. However, there may be circumstances, such as studies involving a foreign population or a collaborative research project, in which the PI of a Pioneer Award must conduct part of the research outside the United States. This research is allowable. However, the length of any single foreign research stay should not exceed the time allowable under NIH Grants Policy for a PI to be away from his/her laboratory without appointing a temporary PI (i.e., three months). Due to the special nature of the Pioneer Award, appointment of a temporary PI is not allowable.
       

    15. I am conducting research in another country. Would I be able to continue this research under a Pioneer Award?

      The PI of a Pioneer Award must be employed by a U.S. institution and the research must be conducted at that institution. However, there may be circumstances, such as epidemiologic studies in other countries, in which the PI of a Pioneer Award must conduct part of the research outside the United States. This research is allowable. However, the length of any single foreign research stay should not exceed the time allowable under NIH Grants Policy for a PI to be away from his/her laboratory without appointing a temporary PI (i.e., three months). Due to the special nature of the Pioneer Award, appointment of a temporary PI is not allowable.
       

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

      Yes, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria as listed in the RFA. Note that all Pioneer Award applications must be submitted as “new” applications, regardless of any previous submission to the program.
       

    17. Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

      Yes, the award may be transferred to another eligible institution according to the same policies and procedures used for traditional research grants. Awards may not be transferred to foreign institutions.
       

    18. I am transferring to a different institution soon. Should I apply from my current institution or my new institution?

      Awards are transferrable but are done so at the discretion of the institution. Please remember, the NIH funds institutions, not individuals. It is up to the applicant to negotiate with the involved institutions to determine which one will submit the application, and what will occur if an award transfer is necessary.
       

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

      No. NIH policy does not allow two applications with overlapping aims to be under review at the same time, even if they are for different activity codes (e.g., DP1 and R01) or are submitted to different funding opportunity announcements (e.g., one RFA and one PA). An application may not be submitted before the summary statement of an earlier, overlapping application has been issued.
       

    20. Can I resubmit an earlier, unsuccessful Pioneer application?

      Yes, you may submit a previously unfunded application as long as the previous review is complete and the summary statement has been released. NIH policy no longer limits the number of times you can resubmit an application with essentially the same content and scope as an earlier application. However, it would be wise to address reviewer comments and concerns before resubmitting an application.
       

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

      Yes, you may submit a previously unfunded application as long as the previous review is complete and the summary statement has been released. NIH policy no longer limits the number of times you can resubmit an application with essentially the same content and scope as an earlier application. However, projects that are appropriate for more traditional grant mechanisms are likely inappropriate for the Pioneer Award. Pioneer Awards are meant to support investigators with paradigm shifting projects substantially different from those already being pursued in the investigator’s lab, and investigators must justify how the proposal is more suitable for the Pioneer Award instead of standard grant mechanisms.
       

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    Application & Submission

    1. What are the important dates for applications?

      Applications may be submitted to Grants.gov beginning September 9, 2015 and must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the investigator’s institution/organization) on October 9, 2015. Letters of reference must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. (local time of the referee) on October 9, 2015.
       

    2. Will late applications be accepted?

      Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.
       

    3. I am serving in the NIH peer review process and/or in an NIH Advisory Group. Can I receive an extension on the submission deadline?

      No extensions will be given, and late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.
       

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

      A letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows NIH staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.
       

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

      It is important that you immediately check with your sponsored research office to determine whether your institution is registered with Grants.gov. Please note that the registration process could take up to two weeks. The institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is responsible for completing the registration process. If your institution is not already registered, it must first register with the Central Contractor Registry (the Credential Provider) and then with Grants.gov. Both the institution and the investigator must also complete a one-time registration in the NIH eRA Commons in order to submit applications to NIH. Institutional officials are responsible for registering investigators in the eRA Commons. You should work with your AOR (also known as Signing Official in the eRA Commons) to determine your own institution’s process for registration.
       

    6. Where can I find help registering for Grants.gov?

      For help with the Grants.gov registration process, contact Grants.gov customer support at 1-800-518-4726 (Toll Free), Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) or at support@grants.gov.
       

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

      For help with the technical aspects of submitting to Grants.gov, check the resources available at Grants.gov. If you need assistance, contract Grants.gov customer support at 1-800-518-4726 (Toll Free), Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) or at support@grants.gov.
       

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

      Step-by-step directions for registering with eRA Commons are available. For questions regarding the Commons registration process, contact the NIH eRA Commons help desk at 1-866-504-9552 (Toll Free) or 301-451-5939 from Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). Alternatively, you may email commons@od.nih.gov and a customer service representative will be in contact with you.
       

    9. What format should I use for the documents submitted with my application to Grants.gov (abstract, public health relevancy statement, facilities and other resources, essay, biographical sketch, current research support)?

      All documents must be in PDF format and cannot exceed page limits (if documents exceed page limits, the application will be considered non-responsive and will not be evaluated). Specific formatting instructions for each document are in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
       

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

      The Area of Science designations are to assist in assigning applications to reviewers. To select the most appropriate science area codes for your application, you should consider whether reviewers who are knowledgeable in one or another Area of Science would be most likely to appreciate the significance of the project, the innovativeness of its approaches, and its potential impact.
       

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

      Two Areas of Science should be designated on the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide Agency Routing Identifier Field. The Areas of Science (one-digit code and abbreviation) must also be included at the top of the Essay.
       

    12. What are the Areas of Science?
       
      Code & Abbreviation Science Area
      1 BBS Behavioral and Social Science
      2 CB Chemical Biology
      3 CTR Clinical and Translational Research
      4 IMM Immunology
      5 IE Instrumentation and Engineering
      6 MCB Molecular and Cellular Biology
      7 NS Neuroscience
      8 HIB High-Throughput and Integrative Biology
      9 QCB Quantitative and Computational Biology

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

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

      No. Only two areas may be designated. One of these would be the primary science and the other would be the secondary.
       

    14. I cannot determine the best fit for my Area of Science designations. What should I do?

      The designation of scientific areas by applicants is used solely to aid in selection of the most appropriate group of peer reviewers. All nine scientific areas are considered as a single competition, are reviewed in the same time period, and compete for a single source of funds. NIH staff cannot advise you on the specific selection of Areas of Science for your project. We understand that for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research projects, more than two Areas of Science might be appropriate. To select the most appropriate Areas of Science for your proposed research (by selection of two of the ten options), you should consider whether reviewers with expertise in one or another Area of Science would be most likely to appreciate the significance of the project, the innovativeness of its approaches, and its potential impact.
       

    15. The application package that I downloaded from Grants.Gov does not include budget pages. Are detailed budgets required? Where do I indicate indirect costs?

      Budgets are not required. Indirect costs will be determined at the time of award.
       

    16. Does the five-page essay replace the traditional “Research Plan” (with “Specific Aims”) or is it to be submitted in addition to that section?

      The five-page essay replaces the traditional “Research Plan” section required for most other NIH grant applications. The requirements for a Pioneer Award application are very different from those for most other NIH grants. Read carefully the application instructions and review criteria in the RFA.
       

    17. In my essay, may I include citations (references) to key publications? If so, what is the appropriate format?

      Yes, you may include citations in the essay, as long as they fit within the 5-page limit. The citations may be in any format.
       

    18. May I include figures and illustrations in my essay?

      Yes, you may include figures and illustrations in the essay, as long as they fit within the 5-page limit.
       

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

      No. Applications must be self-contained within the specified page limitations. Internet website addresses (URLs) may not be used to provide information necessary to the review. However, applicants can list published articles that include movies/links to movies as citations in the essay. We cannot guarantee that reviewers will refer to citations, so any information critical to the evaluation of the research proposal should be included in the essay.
       

    20. Where should the effort commitment statement (statement confirming that if chosen to receive an award, the applicant will commit a minimum of 51% of their research efforts to Pioneer Award activities) be provided in the application?

      The statement should be placed in the Research Strategy essay.
       

    21. May I include additional information in an appendix? I need additional space for my list of references, etc.

      All information submitted for the review of your application must be included in the allowed sections of the application, within the specified limits of space. Appendices will not be accepted. There is no place for appendix material in the application format.
       

    22. I have obtained important new preliminary data that will strengthen the application I have already submitted. May I submit these data now?

      No. We cannot accept any additional information after an application has been submitted. Only the information contained in the original application will be reviewed.
       

    23. What documents are needed for the application?

       

      Document Name

      Form/Field

      Instructions

      Cover

      SF424 (R&R) Form Follow instructions in SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and RFA

      Project/Performance Site Locations

      SF424 (R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations Form Follow instructions in SF424 (R&R) Application Guide

      Abstract

      SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information Form, Field 7 (Project Summary/Abstract) 30 lines of text maximum giving a succinct and accurate description of the proposed work

      Public Health Relevancy Statement

      SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information Form, Field 8 (Project Narrative) 2-3 sentences maximum describing the relevance of research to public health

      Facilities & Other Resources

      SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information Form, Field 10 (Facilities & Other Resources) 1-page maximum describing how the scientific environment contributes to project success

      Biographical Sketch

      SF424 (R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile Form 5-page maximum following instructions in SF424 (R&R) Application Guide

      Budget

      SF424 (R&R) Budget Form Not required or accepted

      Cover Page Supplement

      PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement Form Follow instructions for PHS 398 forms in SF424 (R&R) Application Guide

      Research Plan

      PHS 398 Research Plan, Field 3 (Research Strategy) 5-page maximum as described in RFA

      Human Subjects, Vertebrate Animal, Select Agent Plans (as needed)

      PHS 398 Research Plan, Fields 6-9 Follow instructions for PHS 398 forms in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and in Part II of the Application Guide

      Planned Enrollment Report (as needed)

      PHS 398 Planned Enrollment Report Follow instructions for PHS 398 forms in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and in Part II of the Application Guide

      Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report (as needed)

      PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report Follow instructions for PHS 398 forms in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and in Part II of the Application Guide

      Note: All documents must be in PDF format and must comply with prescribed page limits. No additional documents should be uploaded to the application, and applications containing additional materials may not be reviewed.

    24. If my application is not funded, will I have an opportunity to revise and resubmit?

      Resubmission applications (A1) are not allowed. You may submit substantially the same idea or a refinement of the idea as a new application in response to a subsequent Pioneer Award funding opportunity. Or you may be able to incorporate some elements of your proposal into a conventional R01 or R21 application.​
       

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    Budget

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

      Most other NIH grants require you to request an annual budget, either modular or detailed. For the Pioneer Award application, you are asked to request only the total five-year budget. We do not require, and will not accept, budgetary details.
       

    2. How much can be requested?

      You may request up to $700,000 per year in direct costs for 5 years. Applicable indirect (Facilities and Administrative (F&A)) costs will be determined at the time of award and will be in addition to the direct costs.
       

    3. How do I put together a budget request?

      Funds may be requested for personnel (including co-investigators, collaborators, and consultants), supplies, equipment, subcontracts, and other allowable costs. You should estimate the direct costs for each year and sum them to derive the five-year total. Note that the direct and indirect costs for any subcontract must be included within the direct cost cap ($3.5 million over five years) for the budget from your institution. Only the five-year total should be requested, and it must not add up to more than $3.5 million. A detailed budget is not required and should not be submitted.
       

    4. Can the project be for less than five years? The proposed project can be completed in less time.

      Yes. You may request a project period of fewer than five years if your proposed project can be completed in less time. You should provide an explanation for the requested project period within the ten-page essay. The maximum allowable budget request is reduced proportionately from the maximum allowed for a five-year project period.
       

    5. Are indirect costs provided in the award?

      Yes. In addition to the direct costs, applicable facilities and administrative costs (indirect costs) will be allowed and will be determined at the time of award based on the institution’s negotiated rate.
       

    6. Must the indirect costs related to subcontracts be included in the overall direct costs for the award?

      Yes. The direct and indirect costs for any subcontracts must be included within the direct cost cap ($3.5 million over five years) for the budget from your institution.
       

    7. May a collaborator be funded on the award?

      Yes. Collaborators and consultants may be funded on the award, either directly or by a subcontract. If you want to discuss the role of collaborators, consultants, and/or your access to resources, you may do so in the essay. The application does not have a place to list key personnel other than the PI. There is also no place for letters of collaboration or other biographical sketches, and these will not be accepted. Names and affiliations of collaborators should be listed in the cover letter.
       

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    Letters of Reference

    1. Are letters of reference required?

      Yes. All applicants must arrange to have three (and no more than three) letters of reference submitted on their behalf. Please see the detailed instructions in the RFA and on the Pioneer Award website.
       

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

      Letters of reference are typically from scientists or other people qualified to evaluate the merit of the project proposal and the applicant’s qualifications to fulfill the proposed project. Letters of support are typically from outside individuals or organizations whose cooperation, assistance, or guidance is needed for the applicant to successfully complete the project. The letter of support affirms the person or entity’s commitment of promised assistance to the project.
       

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

      No letters of support or collaboration will be accepted. Collaborations can be discussed in the essay.
       

    4. From whom should I request letters of reference?

      It may be most useful to reviewers if letters are from scientists who can address your ability to formulate a compelling scientific vision, your record of overcoming daunting conceptual and experimental hurdles, and your capacity to successfully challenge scientific dogma. It may not be best to choose referees based primarily on their official position, such as your departmental chair or institutional dean.
       

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

      You should not request letters from more than three referees as only three letters will be accepted.
       

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

      No, each letter must be from only one referee.
       

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

      Letters of reference are submitted to the NIH eRA Commons. Letters must be submitted by the application due date no later than 5:00 p.m. (local time of the referee). See the Letters of Reference help page for more information.
       

    8. Will I be notified when letters are submitted?

      Applicants will receive an e-mail confirmation for each letter. The confirmation will contain the name of the referee and the date and time the letter was submitted. Applicants are responsible for contacting their referees to ensure that the letters are submitted prior to the deadline. Applications with fewer than three letters may be considered non-responsive and may not be reviewed.
       

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

      The applicant may track the status of reference letters submitted by his or her referees by logging into his or her eRA Commons account, selecting the Personal Profile tab, and clicking on the Reference Letters tab on the second header row.
       

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    Review & Selection

    1. How will awardees be selected?

      Applications that are complete and responsive will be peer reviewed by a multidisciplinary group of external reviewers. Those investigators whose submissions are judged to be the most outstanding will be invited to NIH for interviews conducted by a panel of distinguished outside experts. The appropriate Council-level body will conduct the final level of review. The Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director, NIH, will make the final funding decisions based the results of initial peer review, the recommendations of the Council level of review, programmatic considerations, availability of funds, and consultations with IC Directors.
       

    2. What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?

      The review emphasizes the individual’s potential to make seminal contributions toward solving an important biomedical or behavioral research problem; the innovativeness, significance, and potential impact of the project; the likelihood that the project would not be supported through more traditional funding mechanisms; and whether it represents a significant departure from the applicant’s ongoing research. Please see the detailed description of research criteria in the RFA.
       

    3. Which review criteria will be emphasized?

      All standard review criteria will be weighed in determining the final impact score. Particular emphasis will be given to the investigator'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.
       

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

      There is no attempt to match closely the expertise of the reviewers to the topics of the proposals. The reviewers for the Pioneer Award applications have been chosen for their breadth of scientific perspective, and will be able to review a broad range of applications, but will not necessarily be experts in the topic of your specific proposal. The description of the scientific project in the essay should be written with a level of detail appropriate for reviewers who are broadly knowledgeable but who may not be expert in the proposed area of research.
       

    5. May I suggest specific reviewers for my application?

      No. You should not name specific reviewers for your application. Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by appropriate Scientific Review Groups convened by the Center for Scientific Review.
       

    6. What happens at the interview?

      The peer review committee will select a subset of applicants it deems to be the most meritorious and invite these applicants for in-person interview in Bethesda, MD. The interviews will give the peer review committee an opportunity to carefully explore the potential of each candidate, the merit of the proposed research, and the commitment of the institution to the candidate's development as a productive and innovative researcher. The results of the interview will be factored into the overall impact score using the standard review criteria.
       

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

      Yes, all applicants will receive summary statements with brief reviewer comments. Additionally, applicants selected for finalist interviews will receive overall impact/priority scores. No criterion scores will be provided to either finalists or non-finalists.
       

    8. When will the awardees be announced?

      Awardees will be notified by late August or early September. New awardees are asked to attend the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Symposium to be held in the winter.
       

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

      No. There is no appeal process.
       

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    Award Administration

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

      Although there are no stipulations on the research agenda, you will be required to submit a two- to five-page annual report of your activities during the year and to participate in an annual High-Risk, High-Reward Research Symposium in Bethesda, MD. In addition, to help the NIH evaluate this program, you may be contacted periodically for at least five years and asked to report on your latest research efforts.
       

    2. How will the award be administered?

      Awards will be administered by an NIH Institute/Center best matching the proposal topic. However, Dr. Ravi Basavappa from the Office of the Director will also serve as a program officer to coordinate administration of all Pioneer Awards
       

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

      As described in the Notice of Award posted in your NIH Commons account, a progress report is due annually on October 1
       

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

      Yes, please be sure to identify yourself as an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award recipient in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters, and other communications related to your research funded by this program. Although citing NIH support is always important, it is even more so in the case of the Pioneer Award, which is a component of the NIH Common Fund. In journal articles, please cite the grant number as well as the name of the program. An example of how this might be worded is, "This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, 1-DP1-IC00XXX."
       

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

      Yes, please notify us at PioneerAwards@mail.nih.gov of any significant publications or media coverage so we can highlight you and your research on our website.
       

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

      As required by Federal legislation, the NIH Public Access Policy requires NIH funded scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central. Please visit the NIH Public Access site for additional information about the process of submitting your accepted publications.
       

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

      Yes, as an awardee, you are required to attend the annual High-Risk, High-Reward Research Symposium held at the NIH Bethesda campus in Maryland in the winter.
       

    8. Are these awards renewable?

      No. These awards are intended to provide funds to initiate important new directions in research over a five year timeframe.
       

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

      Yes, you may request a no-cost extension for a Pioneer Award.
       

    10. Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

      Yes, the award may be transferred to another eligible institution according to the same policies and procedures used for traditional research grants. Awards may not be transferred to foreign institutions.

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