News Release

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Award Programs Launch 2008 Application Cycles

Highly Innovative Research Proposals Sought.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is calling for applications for 2008 NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Awards. Both programs support exceptionally creative scientists who take highly innovative — and often unconventional — approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research.

Pioneer Awards are open to scientists at any career stage, while New Innovator Awards are reserved for new investigators who have not received an NIH regular research (R01) or similar grant.

The programs, part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, complement other NIH efforts to fund innovative research and support scientists in the early stages of their independent research careers.

"We want investigators to give us their boldest, most imaginative research proposals," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "The Pioneer and New Innovator Awards are designed to nurture out-of-the-box ideas that may have more than the usual degree of risk but that, if successful, will have unusually high scientific impact."

Pioneer Awards provide $2.5 million in direct costs over five years and New Innovator Awards provide $1.5 million in direct costs over the same period. NIH expects to make five to 10 Pioneer Awards and up to 24 New Innovator Awards in September 2008.

"To continue our strong record of diversity in these programs, we especially encourage women and members of groups that are underrepresented in NIH research areas to apply," added Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which runs the programs for NIH.

Pioneer Award applications will be accepted from Dec. 16, 2007, to Jan. 16, 2008. Application instructions are at

The New Innovator Award application period is from March 3 to 31, 2008. See for application instructions.

The streamlined, electronic application process centers on an essay describing the investigator’s idea, its significance, and what makes it particularly innovative. New Innovator Award proposals allow preliminary data but do not require it.

"Both programs give awardees considerable freedom to follow their scientific instincts and pursue promising new directions that may emerge in the course of their explorations," Zerhouni noted.

Consistent with the novelty of other elements of the programs, applications are evaluated using a special process that is itself an experiment in peer review.

More information on the programs is available at and

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

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This page last reviewed on October 6, 2015