Translational Notes: Getting researchers off the grant treadmill 

 

Table 1. Comparison of current awards to support nontraditional funding methods.

Source: NIH

 

NIH Director's Awards

National Cancer Institute

 

Pioneer Award

New Innovator Award

Transformative
Research Award

Early Independence Award

Outstanding Investigator Award

Target group

Individuals of exceptional creativity proposing paradigm-shifting research

Early stage investigators of exceptional creativity proposing research of uncommonly high potential impact

Individuals or teams proposing transformative research that requires very large budgets

Outstanding junior scientists wishing to 'skip the postdoc' and move directly to independent research

Investigators with extraordinary records of cancer research productivity proposing exceptional research

Year introduced

2004

2007

2007

2011

2014

Eligibility

Open to all career stages. Early and middle career researchers particularly encouraged to apply. Must currently be engaged in research

Receipt of most recent doctoral degree or completion of medical internship and residency no more than 10 years prior to application receipt date. Must be a 'new investigator' who has never been awarded an R01 or equivalent NIH grant

Open to all career stages

Candidate must receive doctoral degree or complete medical residency within
12 months before or after application submission date

Candidate must have received an NCI grant for the last five consecutive years

Research proposal requirements

Three- to five-page essay to address the challenge, potential impact and suitability for the Pioneer Award program and how the proposed studies qualify as new research direction. Preliminary data not required but may be included

Ten-page essay to address significance and potential impact and innovativeness of proposed approach, how risks and challenges will be addressed, and how investigator qualifications meet 'exceptional creativity' criteria. Preliminary data not required but may be included

Twelve-page essay to address the challenge, potential impact and appropriateness for the Transformative Research Awards program. Preliminary data not required but may be included

Twelve-page component to address matters of candidate suitability and research vision. Host institution must provide details of commitment. Preliminary data not required but may be included

Twelve pages describing the investigator's seminal programmatic contributions to their own or related fields of cancer research and how they have influenced current thinking and will continue to do so. They will address a major biomedical or behavioral problem or challenge in cancer research, the importance of this problem or challenge and the researcher's qualifications to engage in groundbreaking cancer research. Research strategy is expected to evolve during tenure of the grant

Budget

No detailed budget information needs to be submitted. Awards will be for up to $500,000 in direct costs each year, plus standard indirect costs

No detailed budget information needs to be submitted. Awards will be for up to $300,000 in direct costs each year, plus standard indirect costs

No limits to maximum funds available for the program as a whole. No prior approvals required for budgets over $500,000 in direct costs each year

Up to $250,000 in direct costs for each year granted, plus standard indirect costs

Up to $600,000 in direct costs for each year granted

Award duration

5 years

5 years

Up to 5 years

Up to 5 years

Up to 7 years

Review format

Multiphased review, with an interview of finalists by external peers

Multiphased review, including review by external editorial board

Multiphased review, including review by external editorial board

Multiphased review, including review by external editorial board and an interview of finalists

Multiphased review by peer review and the NCI advisory board