December 2, 2019
The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit information from the broad community about factors that lead to underrepresentation of certain groups in the applicant pool of the Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program and approaches that the NIH might take to increase applicant diversity.
The objective of the Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research (HRHR) program is to foster scientific leaps by supporting individuals of exceptional creativity who propose unusually innovative research with the potential for broad impact. The NIH seeks to tap into the full scientific potential of the nation to achieve this goal and encourages applications from all backgrounds (Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity), from all eligible institutions, and which address any topic within the NIH mission. Despite the aim of supporting innovation and creativity across the country, the applicant pools for each of the initiatives within this program are skewed relative to the broader NIH research community: women and underrepresented groups apply at less than the expected frequency, and many institutions across the country do not submit applications to this program or do so at low rates. In addition, clinical research and behavioral/social science research are underrepresented in the application pool. Evaluation of the program to date demonstrates that investigators supported by this program conduct equally innovative research regardless of their gender, background, or geographic location, so it is imperative that the NIH engage the entire community if the most innovative research is to be supported.
The HRHR program comprises four initiatives, each with a funding opportunity and distinct eligibility criteria. The Pioneer Award allows applications from individual investigators (single PI only) at any career stage and has a fixed budget of $3.5 M in direct costs over a five-year project period. The New Innovator Award permits applications from individual Early Stage Investigators and has a fixed budget of $1.5 M in direct costs over approximately a five-year project period. The Transformative Research Award allows applications from single PIs or multiple PIs at any career stage and has flexible budgets. The Early Independence Award allows single PIs who are within an approximate one-year window with respect to the completion of their terminal research degree or clinical training and who wish to “skip-the post-doc” by launching directly into an independent research program. The Early Independence Award provides support of $1.25 M in direct costs over a five-year project period.
As part of an effort to address diversity within the HRHR program, the NIH is seeking input from the scientific community about factors that may contribute to underrepresentation of women, underrepresented groups, and geographically diverse institutions. The NIH also seeks input concerning approaches that might be taken to enhance the diversity within this program.
NIH seeks input from the broad scientific community on factors that may limit or discourage applications from certain groups or institutions and approaches that might be taken to increase the application diversity to the Common Fund’s HRHR Program. Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:
How to Submit a Response
Responses to this RFI will be accepted through January 15, 2020. All comments will be considered anonymous and must be submitted via email to HRHR@nih.gov.
Responses to this RFI are voluntary. The Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and respondents will not receive individualized feedback. This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the United States Government. NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. NIH does not intend to make any type of award based on responses to this RFI or to pay for either the preparation of information submitted or the United States Government's use of such information.
The information submitted will be analyzed and may be shared internally, appear in reports or be reflected in future solicitations, as appropriate and at the Government's discretion. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s) or other activities. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government's use of such information.
Ravi Basavappa, Ph.D.
Office of Strategic Coordination (The Common Fund Office)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives
NIH Office of the Director