NIH – NIH Director’s Transformative Research Awards (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

June 11, 2021 by


The NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award Program supports individual scientists or groups of scientists proposing groundbreaking, exceptionally innovative, original, and/or unconventional research with the potential to create new scientific paradigms, establish entirely new and improved clinical approaches, or develop transformative technologies. For the program to support the best possible researchers and research, applications are sought which reflect the full diversity of the nation’s research workforce. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups and from the full spectrum of eligible institutions in all geographic locations are strongly encouraged to apply to this Funding Opportunity Announcement. In addition, applications are welcome in all topics relevant to the broad mission of NIH, including, but not limited to, topics in the behavioral, social, biomedical, applied, and formal sciences and topics that may involve basic, translational, or clinical research. No preliminary data are required. Projects must clearly demonstrate, based on the strength of the logic, a compelling potential to produce a major impact in a broad area of relevance to the NIH. The NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award is a component of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research (HRHR) Program of the NIH Common Fund.


Several key features of this FOA are designed to emphasize to applicants and peer reviewers that Transformative Research applications are very different from conventional, investigator-initiated research applications. The Transformative Research application focuses on the importance of the problem, the novelty of the hypothesis and/or the proposed methodology, and the magnitude of the potential impact rather than on preliminary data or experimental details. Reviewers will be instructed to emphasize the significance and innovation of the application in their evaluations. Applicants and reviewers should keep the goal of the Transformative Research Award initiative in mind throughout the process– to solicit and fund unusually innovative and potentially transformative research.

In order to support the most innovative and impactful research, the NIH recognizes the need to foster a diverse research workforce across the nation. Applications to this award program should reflect the full diversity of potential PD/PIs, applicant institutions, and research areas relevant to the broad mission of NIH. Researchers from diverse backgrounds (see NOT-OD-20-031), including individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women are strongly encouraged to work with their institutions to develop applications for this Funding Opportunity Announcement. Since outstanding research is conducted at a broad spectrum of institutions, it benefits the national scientific enterprise to support exceptionally innovative and impactful science that represents this breadth. Therefore, this Funding Opportunity Announcement encourages applications from the full range of eligible institutions, including those serving primarily underrepresented groups, those that may be less research-intensive, and from all domestic geographic locations. Applications are welcome in all research areas broadly relevant to the mission of NIH. These areas include, but are not limited to, the behavioral, medical, natural, social, applied, and formal sciences. Research may be basic, translational, or clinical. The primary requirements are that the research be highly innovative and have the potential for unusually broad impact.

Towards the objective of funding the best possible science, the Office of Strategic Coordination and the Center for Scientific Review are piloting a process for initial peer review of applications received in response to this FOA in which the identity of the investigators and institutions are withheld until the last phase of review. Instructions for anonymizing components of the application are given in Section IV and must be carefully followed. A description of the review process is given in Section V.

Key Dates:

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): August 02, 2021
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): Not Applicable
Application Due Dates: September 01, 2021

URL for more information:

Filed Under: Funding Opportunities