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NIH Office of the Director (OD)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

OD Office of Communications

The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program

Bethesda, Maryland — In a move to stimulate high-risk, high-impact medical research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is inviting nominations for the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Program, part of a series of far-reaching initiatives known collectively as the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.

To inaugurate this new program, the NIH will provide up to $500,000 per year for five years to a highly select group of individuals who have the potential to make extraordinary contributions to medical research.

“The face of biomedical research is changing,” says Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the NIH. “To keep pace, we must cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries of science and medicine to bring forward new conceptual frameworks and methodologies that will speed scientific discovery and improve health.”

The Director’s Pioneer Award will encourage investigators in the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences, physical and chemical sciences, computer sciences, mathematics and engineering to take on creative, unexplored avenues of research related to the improvement of human health. While the research that will be funded may carry uncertain outcomes, the award will provide investigators with the resources and flexibility needed to pursue truly groundbreaking discoveries.

“Historically, leaps in knowledge have frequently resulted from exceptional minds willing and able to explore ideas that were considered risky at their inception,” says Dr. Zerhouni. “We’re seeking truly visionary thinkers who are able to make those leaps and change the current paradigms of medical research.”

Traditionally, the NIH has awarded grants to support research projects. This new award will support individual scientists or thinkers with pioneering ideas and approaches to contemporary challenges in biomedical research. Applicants will have the intellectual freedom to pursue their ideas and follow them in expected or even unexpected directions. The program is not intended to support ongoing research projects or simply expand the funding of investigators who are already well supported.

Given the unique nature of this award, applicants will undergo a rigorous selection process to establish the potential high-impact benefits of their ideas to medical research and their likely abilities to pursue their concepts. Nominations will be accepted from March 1, 2004 through midnight April 1, 2004, Eastern Time. For further information or to submit a nomination, visit the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award Web site at http://www.nihroadmap.nih.gov/highrisk/initiatives/pioneer.

The NIH, which is comprised of 27 institutes and centers, is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Web site for the NIH Roadmap is located at: http://www.nihroadmap.nih.gov. More information about the NIH can be found at its Web site: http://www.nih.gov.

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