Notice of Changes in NINDS Policy for Support of NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21)

Notice Number: NOT-NS-10-017

Key Dates
Release Date:  May 13, 2010

Issued by
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (


The purpose of this notice is to announce changes to NINDS policy for support of research via the R21 grant mechanism.


Effective immediately, the following guidance will apply for consideration of R21 applications by NINDS:

The NINDS will continue to accept applications for investigator-initiated exploratory/developmental projects (R21s) for all program areas supported by the Institute.  Previous NINDS language stated that R21 proposals were “limited to those with the potential for truly ground-breaking impact”.  We would like to emphasize that such impact, as described in the trans-NIH parent R21 announcement (, can be achieved in many different ways.  For example, projects can assess the feasibility of a novel area of investigation, develop new techniques or models, apply existing methodologies to a new scientific area, etc. (see parent announcement for additional examples).

NINDS will maintain its existing policy of not accepting unsolicited R21 applications that include clinical trials or other clinical studies of potential therapies.  NINDS places a high priority on the development and evaluation of clinical interventions and has established specific mechanisms for supporting these types of proposals, (see  R21 applications that involve human subjects may be submitted to NINDS if the proposals are not testing the efficacy of a clinical intervention AND if safety monitoring of study participants can be performed appropriately within the budgetary and time constraints of an R21.  For information regarding specific programs and contacts, please see

It is important to note that analyses of new investigator applications to NINDS indicate that the success rate for R21 applicants is lower than for R01 applicants (FY 2009 success rates for NINDS R21 New Investigators: 11% vs.  NINDS R01 New Investigators: 19%).  Given the current policy of the NIH to support New Investigator R01s at success rates equivalent to those of established investigators submitting new (Type 1) applications (, the NINDS encourages New Investigators, and in particular Early Stage Investigators (, to apply for R01 grants when seeking first-time funding from the NIH.  


Inquiries concerning this policy should be sent to:

Anna Taylor, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Research
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH
6001 Executive Blvd., Rm. 3003
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 496-9248
Fax: (301) 402-4370

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
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