Funding Innovative Research: The NINDS Research Program Award (R35)

In addition to creativity, hard work and persistence, scientific discovery relies on researchers’ support to pursue critically important but difficult questions. This frequently requires long-term approaches and the ability to redirect experimental approaches as the evolving science dictates. That is why, five years ago, NINDS launched a special program, the Research Program Award (R35), to fund neuroscientists’ research for up to eight years, without the constraints of specific aims tied to a traditional five-year research grant. I wrote previously about this program when it first launched, and I am happy to share that we have reissued the R35 funding opportunity and are accepting applications until July 13, 2021. I encourage everyone who is eligible to apply for this exciting program.

The R35 mechanism allows investigators with a record of achievement in neuroscience research the freedom to embark on ambitious, long-term research. It supports all of an investigator’s NINDS mission-relevant research with stable funding at a minimum of $350,000 and up to $750,000 per year (direct cost funding) for eight years to make meaningful contributions to neuroscience. Ultimately, our goal with the R35 program is to enable investigators to devote more time and creativity to the pursuit of cutting-edge neuroscience:  by providing sustained research funding, the R35 mechanism helps to relieve the administrative burden of grant writing, giving investigators the opportunity to participate more directly in the lab, mentor trainees, explore new technologies, test new ideas, and elevate the quality of the lab’s work.

Unraveling the mysteries of the human brain and addressing the underlying causes of myriad neurological disorders requires diverse perspectives, drawing on a wide range of expertise in multiple scientific and academic fields, and including investigators across career stages. Since the R35 program’s inception, we have funded 89 investigators from a variety of institutions, disciplines, and career stages, who are using this mechanism to tackle broad and complex neuroscience questions. As we continue the program, we especially encourage applications from earlier-stage neuroscientists and investigators from diverse backgrounds for whom the R35 “culture change” may have greater impact. We also welcome applications from investigators whose labs have been long supported by a single research project grant, and from investigators recently moving into neuroscience from other disciplines, such as engineering, chemistry, or computer science.

We hope to see many new and exciting applications to the R35 program. If you are an investigator interested in learning more about the program and whether it may be a good fit your research, please see the links below.

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