Supported in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week that it is awarding $348 million to encourage investigators to explore bold ideas that have the potential to catapult fields forward and speed the translation of research into improved health.
The range of awards is granted under three innovation-based research programs: the NIH Director’s Transformative R01 (T-R01) Awards, the Pioneer Awards, and the New Innovator Awards.
The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact, trans-NIH programs known collectively as the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The Roadmap is a series of initiatives designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH institute could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research.
These award programs are part of the NIH Roadmap, funded through the Common Fund and managed by the NIH Office of the Director and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
"The appeal of the Pioneer, New Innovator, and the T-R01 programs, is that investigators are encouraged to challenge the status quo with innovative ideas, while being given the necessary resources to test them," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The fact that we continue to receive such strong proposals for funding through the programs reflects the wealth of creative ideas in science today."
Since no budget cap is imposed and preliminary results are not required for submission, scientists are free to propose new, bold ideas. They also have the flexibility to work in teams if the complexity of the research problem demands it.
The NIH expects to make competing awards of $30 million to T-R01 awardees, $13.5 million to Pioneer awardees, and approximately $131 million to New Innovators in Fiscal Year 2009. The total funding provided to this competing cohort over a five-year period is estimated to be $348 million.
This year's awards make the largest number of Pioneer and New Innovator awards in the programs’ history. Investigators funded via the 2004 cohort, the first year of the Pioneer Awards, have completed their projects. Details on their progress is available here.
Several of this year's awards were given to scientists researching neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders. For descriptions of the 2009 New Innovator Award recipients’ research plans, click here. For descriptions of the 2009 T-R01 recipients' research plans, click here. Information on the Pioneer Award is at, including information on this year's awardees, is available here.
by Meghan Kallman