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Comparison of R01, R03, R21, & R15 Mechanisms

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The table below shows key features of the various mechanisms for supporting investigator-initiated research.

Award Mechanism R01 R03 R21 R15
Title Research Project Grant NIH Small Grant Program (R03) NIH Exploratory / Development Grant Award (R21) Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA)
Parent Announcement No. PA-11-260 PA-11-262 PA-11-261 PA-12-006
Scope & Purpose Supports discrete, specified, circumscribed project to be performed by the named investigator in an area representing his/her specific interests and competencies Supports:
  • Pilot or feasibility studies
  • Secondary analysis of existing data
  • Small, self-contained research projects
  • Development of research methodology
  • Development of new research technology
  • Does not require preliminary data
Supports:
  • New, exploratory or developmental research projects in early stages of development
  • May involve considerable risk but may lead to a breakthrough
  • Supports development of novel techniques, agents, methodologies, model, or applications
  • Breaks new ground or extends previous discoveries in new directions or for new applications
  • Does not require preliminary data
  • Stimulates research in institutions that have not been major recipients of NIH support
  • Supports small-scale health-related research projects by faculty members of eligible domestic institutions
Length of Award Up to 5 years Up to 2 years Up to 2 years Up to 3 years
Allowable Costs
(Direct Costs)
Requires advance permission for $500,000 or more in any year Up to $50,000 per year Total not to exceed $275,000 for entire period Up to $300,000 for entire 3-year period
Renewability /
Restrictions
Competing continuation (Type 2) applications accepted
  • New applications only; competing continuation (Type 2) applications not allowed
  • No-cost extension for 1 year may be allowed
  • Follow-up R01 applications are encouraged
  • Does not support thesis research
  • New applications only; competing continuation (Type 2) applications not allowed
  • Follow-up R01 applications are encouraged
  • Competing continuation (Type 2) applications accepted
  • May not be the PD/PI of any active NIH research grant at the time of award of an AREA grant
  • May not be awarded more than one AREA grant at a time
Locus of review CSR for non-RFA NICHD CSR for non-RFA CSR for non-RFA
Last Updated Date: 02/06/2013
Last Reviewed Date: 02/06/2013

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