Pioneer Award Logo

Program Information

The Pioneer Award program supports individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering and highly innovative approaches with the potential to produce an unusually high impact on biomedical or behavioral research. The proposed research must be novel and differ substantially from research already pursued in the investigator’s laboratory. Research in a wide range of fields is welcome, including biological, behavioral, clinical, social, physical, chemical, computational, engineering, and mathematical sciences. Investigators at all career stages are eligible and must commit the major portion (at least 51%) of their research effort to activities supported by the Pioneer Award. Those at early to middle stages of their careers, women, and members of underrepresented groups in biomedical or behavioral research are encouraged to apply.

Award Information


Pioneer Award

Target Group

Individuals of exceptional creativity proposing highly innovative research


  • 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

Preliminary Data

Not required; may be included

Research Strategy

3–5 page essay includes response to questions about the challenge, potential impact, suitability for the Pioneer Award program, and how research qualifies as new research direction

Reference Letters

3 letters required


Minimum of 51% (major portion) of research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award


  • No budget information submitted
  • Awards will be for up to $500,000 per year for each of five years, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs

Multiple PIs

Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application

Review Format

Two-phases, including interview of finalists

Review Process

Review Process

This page last reviewed on September 7, 2016