Disclaimer: The information in these pages are meant to provide general guidance. Instructions and procedures outlined in the Funding Opportunity Announcement and SF424 Application Guide take precedence over any information provided and should be referred to for complete and comprehensive directions.
The Transformative Research Award is open to individual or teams of scientists at any career stage. Individuals with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research are invited to work with their organization to develop an application for support.
In order to support the most innovative and impactful research, the NIH recognizes the need to foster a diverse research workforce across the nation. Applications to this award program should reflect the full diversity of potential PD/PIs, applicant institutions, and research areas relevant to the broad mission of NIH. Researchers from diverse backgrounds (see NOT-OD-20-031), including individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women are strongly encouraged to work with their institutions to develop applications for this Funding Opportunity Announcement. Since outstanding research is conducted at a broad spectrum of institutions, it benefits the national scientific enterprise to support exceptionally innovative and impactful science that represents this breadth. Therefore, applications are encouraged from the full range of eligible institutions, including those serving primarily underrepresented groups, those that may be less research-intensive, and from all domestic geographic locations. Applications are welcome in all research areas broadly relevant to the mission of NIH. These areas include, but are not limited to, the behavioral, medical, natural, social, applied, and formal sciences. Research may be basic, translational, or clinical. The primary requirements are that the research be highly innovative and have the potential for unusually broad impact.
Steps to Determine Your Eligibility
Step 1: Fit NIH Mission and Goals
NIH seeks fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. The Transformative Research Award welcomes all areas of research relevant to this mission, including (but not limited to) topics in behavioral, medical, natural, social, applied, and formal sciences. Research may be basic, translational, or clinical. The primary requirements are that the research be highly innovative and have the potential for unusually broad impact.
Step 2: Fit the Purpose of the Transformative Research Award
The award supports individual or groups of scientists proposing groundbreaking, exceptionally innovative, original, and/or unconventional research with the potential to create new scientific paradigms, establish entirely new and improved clinical approaches, or develop transformative technologies. Transformative Research Award applications should propose research substantially different from current mainstream research. No preliminary data or detailed experimental plans are required. Projects must clearly demonstrate, based on the strength of the logic, a compelling potential to produce a major impact in a broad area of science relevant to the NIH.
Step 3: Understand How the Transformative Research Award Differs from a Traditional R01
Several key features of the initiative are designed to emphasize to applicants and peer reviewers that Transformative Research Award applications are very different from conventional, investigator-initiated research applications. The Transformative Research Award application focuses on the importance of the problem, the novelty of the hypothesis and/or the proposed methodology, and the magnitude of the potential impact rather than on preliminary data or experimental details. Reviewers will be instructed to emphasize the significance and innovation of the application in their evaluations. Applicants and reviewers should keep the goal of the Transformative Research Award initiative in mind throughout the process– to solicit and fund unusually innovative and potentially transformative research.
Towards the objective of funding the best possible science, the Office of Strategic Coordination and the Center for Scientific Review are piloting an anonymized review process for all applications received for Transformative Research Award funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-21-017. The identity of the investigators and institutions will be withheld until the last phase of the review. Instructions for anonymizing components of the application are given in the funding opportunity announcements and should be followed carefully. Applications that fail to comply with anonymity instructions will be administratively withdrawn.
Step 4: Get Additional Questions Answered
If you have questions about the fit of your research idea for the Transformative Research Award, check out the Frequently Asked Questions section and past Q&A webinars posted on the website. You can also contact NIH staff at Transformative_Awards@mail.nih.gov.
More questions? Contact us at Transformative_Awards@mail.nih.gov.
This page last reviewed on July 30, 2021