New EUREKA Awards Fund Highly Innovative Research, Promise Big Payoffs


Susan Athey

The National Institutes of Health has awarded 56 grants of up to $67.4 million to support highly innovative research projects that promise big scientific payoffs.  The new awards are part of the EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) program, which helps scientists test new, unconventional ideas or tackle major methodological or technical challenges.

“EUREKA awards reflect NIH’s continued commitment to funding transformative research, even if it carries more than the usual degree of scientific risk,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.  “The grants seek to elicit those ‘eureka moments’ when scientists make major theoretical or technical advances.”

EUREKA researchers will receive direct costs of approximately $200,000 per year for up to four years.  Ten of the projects totaling $10.6 million are two-year grants supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Among the new grants are projects that seek to:

  • Develop new vectors to facilitate the use of gene therapy to treat neurological diseases in children and adults.
    Miguel Sena Esteves, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Use single-celled bacteria and yeast to understand the evolution of circadian clocks, which control sleep-wake cycles and other daily rhythms in humans and other organisms.
    Carl H. Johnson, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
  • Develop a system for mining the published literature to validate scientific predictions of protein structure and function, which could help improve the accuracy of prediction and facilitate progress in identifying targets for drug discovery.
    Karin Maria Verspoor, PhD., University of Colorado

“The research supported by EUREKA could provide us with new concepts, tools and approaches that have a profound impact on our understanding of biology—from fundamental life processes to human diseases and behavior,” said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which led the development of the EUREKA program.

A list of EUREKA grants is available at /Research/Mechanisms/pages/EUREKAGrants.aspx.

In addition to NIGMS, the other NIH components funding EUREKA projects are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Library of Medicine.

For more information about EUREKA, see /Research/Mechanisms/pages/EUREKA.aspx (Editor’s note: this page has been removed because the program was discontinued in 2011).


To arrange an interview with a EUREKA program leader, contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or

NIGMS supports basic research to increase our understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit