Science Careers Blog

July 30, 2007

EUREKA! NIH Grants for Innovative Research

In the recently updated guide in Science Careers on getting an R01 grant from National Institutes of Health (NIH), we noted the rewards and risks of proposing particularly innovative research in your R01 grant application. The same week our R01 guide appeared, NIH issued a new request for applications called "EUREKA     (Exceptional Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration)" as part of the R01 series.

The EUREKA grants, the NIH announcement says, encourage "exceptionally innovative research" that can be applied to the missions of the five participating NIH institutes: the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). For EUREKA, NIH is looking for proposals "testing novel, unconventional hypotheses, or are pursuing major methodological or technical challenges." NIH wants research that makes a big difference, either in terms of numbers of potential beneficiaries or the size of the impact on the target community.

EUREKA grants are not made for pilot projects, and they aren't renewable. If the research aims to test a novel hypothesis, NIH wants investigators to be able to prove or disprove that hypothesis within the funding period. If the project is developing a technology, the grant recipients need to develop that technology within the funding period or show that the technology isn't feasible.

To emphasize the premium being put on innovation and to highlight how this program is different from other R01 announcements, proposal reviewers will receive a different set of criteria for reviewing applications...

Reviewers will be instructed to focus their evaluations on significance and innovation, and these criteria will be the primary basis for funding decisions. They will be told that unavoidable risk is acceptable, as long as the probability of success is not zero. The PI’s record of overcoming difficult scientific hurdles, appropriate to the career stage of the applicant, may be useful in assessing the likelihood of success, although the focus of this initiative is on the project, rather than the investigator.

Another difference from the traditional R01: EUREKA applications have one deadline--24 October 2007--rather than the three standard R01 due dates during the year. GrantsNet has an overview of the EUREKA grants. The NIH site has the full announcement.

Hat tip: Alison Chandler, AAAS (Facebook registration required).

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