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NIH announces 115 awards to encourage high-risk research and innovation

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today 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 full complement of awards is granted under three innovative research programs supported by the NIH Common Fund's Roadmap for Medical Research: the NIH Director's Transformative R01 (T-R01) Awards, Pioneer Awards, and New Innovator Awards. The Common Fund, enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act, supports cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs with a particular emphasis on innovation and risk taking. A portion of these New Innovator Awards is also supported by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"The appeal of the Pioneer, New Innovator, and now 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."

Accelerating the current pace of discovery through the support of highly innovative research is an ongoing effort at the NIH, but the NIH Director's T-R01 Program is new this year. Named for the standard investigator-initiated research project that the NIH supports, the R01, the T-R01s provide a new opportunity for scientists that is unmatched by any other NIH program. Since no budget cap is imposed and preliminary results are not required, scientists are free to propose new, bold ideas that may require significant resources to pursue. They are also given the flexibility to work in large, complex teams if the complexity of the research problem demands it.

This year, the NIH is granting 115 NIH Director's High-Risk Research Awards: 42 T-R01 Awards, 18 Pioneer Awards, and 55 New Innovator Awards for early-stage investigators.

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. The New Innovator total includes $23 million in funds through the Recovery Act.

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 the progress made by these awardees are available at

The 2009 recipients' names and institutions are listed below.


Contact: Karen Silver
NIH/Office of the Director

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