NIH/NIAMS – Pre-Application: Research Innovation for Scientific Knowledge (RISK) for Skin and Rheumatic Diseases (X02 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

August 13, 2018 by School of Medicine Webmaster

In 2004, the NIH Office of Director launched a series of funding mechanisms, including the Pioneer (DP1), New Innovator (DP2), and Transformative Research (TR01) awards, aiming at boosting the support for high risk and high innovation projects.  Several NIH Institutes also offered their own mechanisms to promote innovative research, e.g., EUREKA (multiple ICs), Avant-Garde Award (NIDA), BRAINS (NIMH), ONES (NIEHS), etc.

The NIAMS Research Innovation for Scientific Knowledge (RISK) initiative, consisting of this X02 and its companion RFA-AR-19-012 “Research Innovation for Scientific Knowledge (RISK) for Skin and Rheumatic Disease (R61/R33)”, reflects NIAMS’s recognition of the need to enhance support of originality, creativity and risk-taking in its mission relevant research areas.  Through the RISK initiative, NIAMS envisions supporting bold and eclectic ideas. The RISK initiative serves as a complement to the other NIH research project mechanisms.  It intends to capture and support innovative ideas of high potential value, especially those in their early stage of development that may not fare well otherwise in peer review, thus accelerating the discovery process.  The RISK initiative itself intends to innovate by incorporating new features and processes in the X02 review, e.g., principal investigator anonymity.

Investigators whose X02 pre-applications are evaluated to be highly innovative and most relevant to the RISK program, will be notified of the opportunity to submit an R61/R33 application to RFA-AR-19-012 (R61/R33). The R61/R33 is a two-phase application. The R61 Phase will provide up to two years of support to perform critical experiments that rigorously test the proposed concept.  These critical experiments should unambiguously support or reject the central hypothesis.  The outcomes of these critical experiments will be the main determining factor for the activation of the R33 Phase, which will provide up to one additional year of support to further validate and explore the innovative concept.

Specific Objectives

This FOA encourages pre-applications for innovative research within the NIAMS mission, specific to skin and rheumatic diseases.  The FOA focuses on pursuing unusual observations, testing imaginative hypotheses, investigating creative concepts, and building new paradigms, all of which deviate significantly from the current prevailing theories and practice.  The FOA is particularly designed to encourage the submission of projects that may be considered too risky, premature, controversial, or unconventional for other NIH mechanisms. The initiative intends to support disease-focused translational studies, up to, but not including, first in human studies. This FOA is not intended to support clinical trials.

Examples of areas of NIAMS interest in innovative research include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Proposes a new area of inquiry, e.g., an unexpected function of cells or molecules associated with mechanism of disease;
  • Uses or develops a completely unexplored approach to solving a longstanding important challenge or obstacle;
  • Is substantially different from research already being pursued;
  • Introduces a new paradigm or challenges prevailing paradigms/assumptions;
  • Looks at existing problems or issues from a new perspective;
  • Seeks unconventional approaches that are outside the mainstream;
  • Could change established practice or create new fields;
  • Could yield new avenues of investigation;
  • Is more than an incremental advance on published data;
  • Is not the next logical step or continuation of a previous research project.

The following attributes will not be viewed negatively if:

  • The proposed work is still in the early stage of development;
  • The theory or hypothesis has scant precedent or lacks preliminary data;
  • The outcome of the proposed study is unpredictable;
  • The premise of the study contradicts existing paradigms/assumptions.

The RISK initiative will support the two main scientific areas of NIAMS mission, 1) musculoskeletal diseases and 2) the skin and rheumatic diseases. Each area will be supported by separate FOAs, which are identical except the topic areas. This X02 pre-application FOA and companion RFA-AR-19-012 encourage applications related to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin and rheumatic diseases and on improving patients’ quality of life. The rheumatic diseases portfolios include Arthritis Biology, Systemic Autoimmune Diseases Biology, Rheumatic Diseases Genetics and Translational Research, Clinical Rheumatic Diseases, and Rheumatic Diseases Biopsychosocial Research (including PROMIS and fibromyalgia). The skin diseases portfolios include Keratinocyte Biology and Diseases, Immunobiology and Immune Diseases of Skin, Skin Repair, Regeneration and Pigmentation, and Extracellular Matrix Biology and Diseases. Detailed descriptions can be found in NIAMS Long-Range Plan page at:

The applicants are encouraged to consult with NIAMS program officials for selecting the correct FOA prior to submission of their application.

Deadlines:  September 4, 2018; June 3, 2019 (letters of intent); October 4, 2018; July 3, 2019 (full proposals)


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities