Research Grant Mechanisms

This page summarizes the major mechanisms NIGMS uses to fund research grants and lists special areas of interest where appropriate. It also lists several types of administrative supplements available to principal investigators with active NIGMS research grants. For those who would like more detailed information, references are given to specific issues of the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts in which the announcements of various grant mechanisms and program emphases appeared.

The NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts is issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to convey policy and administrative information and to help interested individuals and organizations keep informed of opportunities, requirements and changes in grant and contract activities administered by NIH components.

The particular set of forms used to apply for an NIH grant depends on which grant mechanism is to be used and whether an electronic or paper application is required. Complete information regarding forms, deadlines and other NIH policies is available on the NIH Web site at

Research Project Grants (R01)
Research project grants are awarded to eligible institutions on behalf of a principal investigator to support a discrete project related to the investigator's area of interest and competence. R01 grants are often referred to as research projects, and the term "research project grants" is also used to refer to a collection of mechanisms that includes R00s, R01s, R15s, R21s, R37s, P01s, DP1s, DP2s and U01s.

Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
AREA awards provide funding for small-scale, new or ongoing health-related research projects, including pilot research projects and feasibility studies; development, testing and refinement of research techniques; secondary analysis of available data sets; and similar discrete research projects that demonstrate research capability.

Exploratory/Development Grants (R21)
NIGMS does not participate in the NIH parent R21 funding opportunity announcement. NIGMS may participate in selected specific R21-based funding opportunity announcements.

Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program (R25)
This initiative provides support to institutions to help students make transitions at a critical stage in their development as scientists. The program helps students transition from two-year junior or community colleges to full four-year baccalaureate programs.

Bridges to the Doctorate Program (R25)
This initiative provides support to institutions to help students make a critical transition in their development as scientists. The program is aimed at helping students transition from master's degree programs to Ph.D. programs.

Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (R25)
RISE supports institutions with well-integrated developmental activities designed to strengthen students’ academic preparation, research training and professional skills for completion of Ph.D. degrees in biomedical science fields. RISE provides grants to institutions that have a commitment and history of developing students from populations underrepresented in these fields.

Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) (R35)
MIRA provides support for the research in an investigator's laboratory that falls within the mission of NIGMS. The goal of MIRA is to increase the efficiency and efficacy of NIGMS funding by providing investigators with greater stability and flexibility, thereby enhancing scientific productivity and the chances for important breakthroughs. The program will also help distribute funding more widely among the nation's highly talented and promising investigators. MIRA grants are generally for 5 years for both established investigators and new and early stage investigators.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program (R41/42)
NIH awards grants under the STTR Program for research or research and development of new technologies and methodologies that have the potential to succeed as commercial products.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program (R43/44)
SBIR grants stimulate technological innovation, use small business to meet federal research and development needs, increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development, and foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged small business and women-owned business concerns in technological innovation. 

Exploratory Grants (P20)
​Exploratory grants support planning for new programs, expansion or modification of existing resources and feasibility studies to explore various approaches to the development of interdisciplinary programs that offer potential solutions to problems of special significance to the NIH mission. These exploratory studies may lead to specialized or comprehensive centers.

Center Core Grants (P30)
​Center core grants support shared resources and facilities for categorical research by a number of investigators from different disciplines who provide a multidisciplinary approach to a joint research effort or from the same discipline who focus on a common research problem. The core grant is integrated with the center's component projects or program projects, though funded independently from them.

Biotechnology Resource Grants (P41)
Biotechnology resource grants support biotechnology resources available to qualified investigators.

Specialized Centers (P50, U54)
These centers support any part of the full range of research and development from very basic to clinical, and may involve ancillary support activities such as protracted patient care necessary to the primary research or research and development effort. The spectrum of activities comprises a multidisciplinary attack on a specific disease entity or biomedical problem area. Centers may serve as regional or national resources for special research purposes.

Support for Scientific Meetings (R13, U13)
NIGMS supports scientific meetings, conferences and workshops that are relevant to its scientific mission.

Support of Continuous Research Excellence (SC1, SC2, SC3)
SCORE increases the research competitiveness of faculty at institutions with a historical mission focused on serving students underrepresented in biomedical research through awards at three formative career stages: Research Advancement Award (SC1), Pilot Project Award (SC2) and Research Continuance Award (SC3). The goal is to foster the transition of participants to non-SCORE research support.

Administrative Supplements
Principal investigators with active NIGMS research grants may apply for administrative supplements in the specific areas below. NIGMS will also accept administrative supplement applications to address certain unanticipated circumstances, but funds for this purpose are limited.

Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research
As part of an NIH-wide program, principal investigators holding active NIGMS research grants may request supplemental funds to improve the diversity of the research workforce. Support of more than one graduate student or postdoctoral fellow on a grant is possible.

Research Supplements to Promote Re-entry into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers
NIGMS participates in an NIH-wide program that provides administrative supplements to research grants to support individuals with high potential to re-enter an active research career after taking time off to care for children or parents or to attend to other family responsibilities.