News Release

Thursday, October 12, 2006

NIH Director Announces 2007 Pioneer Award Competition

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., today launched a new round of competition for the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. This signature program supports exceptionally creative scientists who take highly innovative — and potentially transformative — approaches to major challenges in biomedical research.

“We hope this opportunity stimulates even more investigators to send us their boldest, most imaginative concepts,” said Zerhouni. “The Pioneer Award supports individual scientists rather than specific projects and allows recipients to pursue promising new research directions that could have unusually great impact. This program is one way we are exploring of funding scientists whose ideas might be too novel, span too diverse a range of disciplines, or be at too early a stage to fare well in the traditional NIH peer review process.”

Each Pioneer Award provides $2.5 million in direct costs over five years. NIH funded 35 scientists in the first three years of the program, which is part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. In September 2007, the agency expects to make between five and ten new Pioneer Award grants.

Scientists at all career levels and engaged in any field of research may apply for the Pioneer Award, as long as they are interested in exploring biomedically relevant topics.

“We hope to see a diverse applicant pool again this year. Toward that end, we continue to encourage applications from women, members of groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research, and individuals in the early to middle stages of their careers,” said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and a leader of the Pioneer Award program.

The centerpiece of the streamlined, electronic application process is an essay on the investigator’s vision for addressing a biomedical challenge, the importance of the problem, and the person’s qualifications to engage in groundbreaking research. The application period opens on Friday, December 1, 2006 and closes on Tuesday, January 16, 2007.

Application instructions are at

More information on the Pioneer Award is at

The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research is a series of far-reaching initiatives designed to transform the nation’s medical research capabilities and speed the movement of research discoveries from the bench to the bedside. It provides a framework of the priorities the NIH must address in order to optimize its entire research portfolio and lays out a vision for a more efficient and productive system of medical research. For more information about the NIH Roadmap, please visit the Web site at

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

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®