TH E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T     S E P T E M B E R  –  O C T O B E R   2008



NIH Director's Challenge Award Program for FY 2009: Call for Applications

This message announces the NIH Director's Challenge Award Program for FY 2009. The program aims to encourage collaboration among intramural investigators from multiple ICs, and to support innovative and high-impact research. We plan first to select several general research topics and then to request specific applications in these research areas.

We are now accepting nominations for the research areas to be considered. Send your suggestions by email to Dr. Chuck Dearolf, OIR, at, and put "Director's Challenge Topic" as the subject heading. Include a short (half- to one-page maximum) justification for your topic, indicating the merits and potential of the research field and how such research could take advantage of strengths or unique aspects of the NIH intramural program. We welcome input from individual investigators and from Scientific Interest Groups. Last year's topics related to three ongoing trans-NIH initiatives: Systems biology; Imaging; and Immunology, Autoimmunity and Inflammation. The deadline for submission of topics for the 2009 awards is Friday, October 17.

Once the research topics are determined and announced, applications on these topics can request up to $250,000 per year, for one or two years, and funds can be spent on personnel, equipment, and supplies. A total of $1.5 million will be awarded. Applications must relate to one of several designated scientific areas, which will be selected from suggestions submitted by intramural investigators.

The successful topics will be chosen by the Scientific Directors at the end of October. The OIR will then announce a call for applications, which will include more information on the application process and on the review criteria. The deadline for Letters of Intent will be November 28, and full applications will be due January 16, 2009. The applications must include tenured and/or tenure-track PIs from at least two ICs.

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Chuck Dearolf, Assistant Director, Office of Intramural Research, by email or at 301-402-1225.

And the Winners Are...

As mentioned in the editorial from the May-June 2008 issue of The Catalyst, the NIH Intramural Program has a new funding source called the NIH Director's Challenge Awards. Dr. Zerhouni has provided $1.5 million in new intramural funds to stimulate highly innovative and potentially high-impact research. The program is expanding in FY2009.

For FY2008, the awards were targeted to projects related to three existing trans-NIH initiatives: The Center for Human Immunology, Autoimmunity, and Inflammation, or CHI; the Imaging Initiative (Molecules to Cells); and the Systems Biology Initiative (Molecular Networks). Nine projects involving investigators from 11 ICs were awarded funding. These are listed below with the lead investigators in order of award amount.

Charles Dearolf (, an Assistant Director for Intramural Research, oversees the Challenge Awards. He will lead the solicitation of ideas from senior and tenure-track investigators for exciting topics that deserve additional support. We will select several and then issue a call for proposals that both relate to one of the topics and bring together investigators from multiple ICs. Successful projects can receive two years of support for up to $250,000 per year.


Return to September-October 2008 Catalyst index

This page last updated on October 1, 2008, by Christopher Wanjek