High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program
Funding opportunities for outstanding scientists at all career stages
The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program supports exceptionally creative scientists pursuing highly innovative research with the potential for broad impact in biomedical, behavioral, or social sciences within the NIH mission. The program's four constituent NIH Director's awards provide a diverse set of funding opportunities.
|For scientists with outstanding records of creativity pursuing pioneering approaches to major challenges||For exceptionally creative early career scientists proposing innovative, high-impact projects||For individuals or teams proposing groundbreaking, unconventional research with the potential to create new scientific paradigms||For exceptional junior scientists bypassing postdoctoral training to launch independent research careers|
The Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program was created to accelerate the pace of biomedical, behavioral, and social science discoveries by supporting exceptionally creative scientists conducting highly innovative research. The program seeks to identify scientists with high-impact ideas that may be risky or at a stage too early to fare well in the traditional peer review process. The program encourages creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in any area of biomedical, behavioral, or social science within the NIH mission. Four initiatives were created for this purpose:
The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, established in 2004, challenges investigators at all career levels to pursue new research directions and develop groundbreaking, high-impact approaches within broad areas of biomedical, behavioral or social science.
The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, established in 2007, supports unusually innovative research from early career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree or post-graduate clinical training and have not yet received a research project grant or equivalent NIH grant.
The NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, established in 2009, promotes cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches and is open to individuals and teams of investigators who propose unconventional research that could create or challenge existing paradigms.
The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, established in 2011, provides an opportunity for exceptional junior scientists who have recently received their doctoral degree or completed their post-graduate clinical training to skip traditional post-doctoral training and move immediately into independent research positions.
Learn more about the different requirements for the awards from our interactive table.
Transformative Research Award
- Non-COVID-19-related research proposals should apply to funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-20-013.
- COVID-19-related research proposals should apply to funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-20-020.
- Applications for both RFAs must be submitted by September 30, 2020.
- All applications submitted to the two RFAs will be reviewed together at the same time using the same process.
- An anonymized review process will be piloted for RFA-RM-20-013 and RFA-RM-20-020. See the funding opportunity announcements for more information on the review process.
Early Independence Award
- Non-COVID-19-related research proposals should apply to funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-20-014.
- COVID-19-related research proposals should apply to funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-20-021.
- Applications for both RFAs must be submitted by September 4, 2020.
- Applications submitted to the two RFAs will be reviewed together at the same time using the same process.
- New Application & Award Guidance is available with information on how to apply and sample applications.
|FY||Pioneer Award||New Innovator
Due September 11, 2020
Due August 21, 2020
Non-COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-013
COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-020
Non-COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-014
COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-021
Closed September 6, 2019
Closed August 26, 2019
Closed September 20, 2019
Closed September 13, 2019
What Is the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program? (1 minute video)
An audio-described version of this video is also available.
This page last reviewed on May 29, 2020