NIBIB Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (R21)

Funding Organization: 
National Institutes of Health
Type of Funding: 
Funding Announcement: 
Proposal Deadline: 
Monday, October 16, 2017
Award/Eligibility Description: 

Cutting-edge research in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical sciences and technologies requires new ideas, techniques, and points of view. Such ideas may differ substantially from current thinking or practice. The NIBIB seeks to foster these new scientific bioengineering and imaging ideas, model systems, tools, agents, targets, and technologies through the Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program.  More detail on our program areas can be found at

This program is specifically intended to encourage exploratory or developmental projects. These studies may involve considerable risk, but are expected to lead to breakthroughs in novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models, or their applications that could have a major impact on human-health and related research.

These R21 applications must not include preliminary data that demonstrate the feasibility of the specific aims. Applications including preliminary data will be considered noncompliant with the FOA instructions and will not go forward to review. Availability of preliminary data demonstrating feasibility of the proposed approach is an indication that the proposed project has advanced beyond the exploratory stage defined by this program, and makes the application unsuitable for this funding opportunity. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations and data from other sources.

Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant applications should be exploratory and novel, distinct from those supported through the traditional R01 activity code. For example, long-term projects, or projects designed to increase knowledge in a well-established area, are not appropriate for this FOA. Studies submitted to this FOA should break new ground or take previous discoveries in new directions.

Applications for R21 awards should propose projects distinct from those supported through the traditional R01 mechanism, which are generally longer-term systematic investigations supported by extensive preliminary data. R21 applications should have well-defined goals with the potential for future development.  It is expected that successful projects would go on to further development under other funding mechanisms, such as the R01. Not all research endeavors will be suitable for this FOA. Projects from Investigators that are supported by preliminary data should be submitted to the Parent R01 FOA ( or the Bioengineering Research Grant FOA ( 

Projects of limited cost or scope that use widely accepted approaches and methods within well-established fields should be submitted to the Parent R03 FOA ( Projects that propose incremental improvements in well-established areas of investigation are not appropriate for this FOA.

New and Early Stage Investigators should consider submitting to the NIBIB trailblazer Award (, which supports an enhanced, three-year R21 grant.

The NIBIB mission does not include the development of new imaging tools and technologies, particularly as they are applied to address basic research questions in cellular processes, function, and structure. For development of such technologies applicants should consult the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). For more information please see