News Release

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

NIH Awards First EUREKA Grants for Exceptionally Innovative Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $42.2 million to fund 38 exceptionally innovative research projects that could have an extraordinarily significant impact on many areas of science. The grants, the first made in a new program called EUREKA (for Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), help investigators test novel, often unconventional hypotheses or tackle major methodological or technical challenges.

"EUREKA projects promise remarkable outcomes that could revolutionize science," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "The program reflects NIH’s commitment to supporting potentially transformative research, even if it carries a greater than usual degree of scientific risk."

EUREKA researchers will receive direct costs of approximately $200,000 per year for up to four years, subject to the availability of appropriations. Among the new grants are projects that seek to:

  • Reprogram adult cells to resemble embryonic stem cells using a new approach, enabling scientists to create patient-specific cells for treating a variety of degenerative diseases without the risk of inducing cancer. Tanja Dominko, Ph.D., Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts
  • Develop an RNA-based strategy for getting material into the brain without the need for a direct injection. Beverly L. Davidson, Ph.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Create an entirely new way of studying cells and organisms using light and a light-sensitive molecule to instantly degrade proteins. Russell N. Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D., University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle

"EUREKA is an experiment in how to attract, identify, and support particularly creative approaches that, if successful, could move science forward dramatically," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which led the development of the EUREKA program.

"One way EUREKA does this is through a specialized application and review process focusing on the significance and innovation of the proposal."

In addition to NIGMS, the other NIH components funding EUREKA projects are the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For a full list of EUREKA projects, see

Additional EUREKA awards may be made in fall, and NIH has re-announced the program for next year. For more information, see

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at

The NINDS is a component of the NIH within the Department of Health and Human Services and is the nation's primary supporter of biomedical research on the brain and nervous system.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) mission is to reduce the burden of mental and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior. More information is available at the NIMH website,

NIGMS supports basic research that increases understanding of life processes and forms the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see

To arrange an interview with a EUREKA program leader, please contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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