The Researcher's Tool Kit

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Need funding for exploratory research? Check out the NIH R21 Requirements Checklist

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Interested in seeking funding for exploratory/developmental research?  NIH’s R21 grant mechanism (support for early and conceptual stages of project development) may be for you.   Download the NIH R21 Grant Requirements Checklist.2 to review requirements and manage the grant writing process for your next application.  The checklist includes embedded links to sample funded R21 applications, NIH biosketches, cover letters, and data sharing plans among other resources to inform your proposal development.cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

Per NIH, R21 funding is available to support:

  • Exploratory, novel studies that break new ground or extend previous discoveries toward new directions or applications.
  • High risk high reward studies that may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or result in novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models or applications that will impact biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.

A word of caution…

You are strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate NIH program administrator about your proposed research project during the concept development stage of the application.  R21 grant applications are assigned to the NH Institute and Centers (IC) according to standard PHS referral guidelines and specific program interests.  Make sure your IC participates in the R21 program.  Applications that are assigned to an IC that does not participate may be returned without review.

How do I know if my IC participates in the R21 program?

NIH ICs that accept Investigator-Initiated R21 applications in response to the Parent R21 Announcement – (PA-13-303) are:  NCCAM, NEI, NHGRI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAID, NIAMS, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDA, NIDCD, NIDCR, NIEHS, NIMH, NINDS, NINR and NLM.

NIH ICs that DO NOT ACCEPT R21 applications in response to the Parent R21 Announcement but ONLY accept R21 applications in response to their specific funding opportunity announcements are: FIC, NCI, NCATS, NIMHD, NHLBI, NIDDK, NIGMS, and ORIP.

Some application characteristics to keep in mind:

  • Project period is up to two years
  • Combined budget for DIRECT COSTS for the two year project period may not exceed $275,000. No more than $200,000 may be requested in any single year.
  • Renewals are NOT ALLOWED
  • One resubmission (A1) is allowed
  • Introduction required for a resubmission is limited to one page
  • No preliminary data are required but may be included if available
  • Research Strategy section may not exceed 6 pages

Looking for other grant writing resources?  Check out my recent post about the NIH R01 Grant Requirements Checklist.



Author: Jeanine Jesberg

Jeanine Jesberg is a grants consultant, Certified Research Administrator (CRA), and licensed clinical speech-language pathologist (CCC-SLP) specializing in work with academic institutions and non-profit organizations. Her multi-faceted career includes several positions, including Program Director, Director of Research Operations, and Executive Director, at the University of Chicago as well as Manager of Research Administration at Northwestern University with knowledge that spans strategic planning, conference planning, program management, budget development, research operations, and research administration. She also has over 15 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist in the roles of clinician, Clinical Instructor, Lecturer, private practice Founder/CEO, and speaker. Jeanine currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.

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