The High-Risk, High-Reward Research (HRHR) program, supported by the NIH’s Common Fund, awarded 88 grants to highly creative and exceptional scientists with bold approaches to major challenges in biomedical research. The awards span the broad mission of the NIH and include groundbreaking research: engineering immune cells to produce drugs at sites of diseased tissue, developing a sensor to rapidly detect antibiotic resistant bacteria, understanding how certain parasites evade host detection by continually changing their surface proteins and developing implants that run off the electricity generated from the motion of a beating heart.
“The program continues to support high-caliber investigators whose ideas stretch the boundaries of our scientific knowledge,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “We welcome the newest cohort of outstanding scientists to the program and look forward to their valuable contributions.”
NIH traditionally supports research projects, not individual investigators. However, the HRHR program seeks to identify scientists with ideas that have the potential for high impact, but may be at a stage too early to fare well in the traditional peer review process. These awards encourage creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in biomedical research.
The NIH Common Fund supports a series of exceptionally high-impact programs that cross NIH Institutes and Centers. Common Fund programs pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that require trans-NIH collaboration to succeed. The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, part of the NIH Common Fund, manages the following four awards:
In 2016, the NIH issued 12 Pioneer awards, 48 New Innovator awards, 12 Transformative Research awards and 16 Early Independence awards. The awards total approximately $127 million and represents contributions from the NIH Common Fund; the National Cancer Institute; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; National Institute of Mental Health; and the Big Data to Knowledge initiative.