Risky Business: Strategies for Winning the R21

The NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program — dubbed the “R21” — is unlike any other agency grant, with its own unique objectives and strategies for winning the funding. And this uniqueness is reflected in not only the proposal itself, but also your decision to even pursue the grant.The R21 isn’t for everybody. In fact, this special grant is appropriate for only a select few projects. The NIH designed this grant for high risk/high reward work in “early and conceptual stages” of projects.

The agency is looking specifically for new and novel ideas that can make a major impact or breakthrough in scientific research.Simply put, R21 proposals are “short and sweet,” according to Dorothy Lewis, PhD, professor of internal medicine/infectious disease at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Lewis has 26 years of experience in writing grant applications, including numerous R21 proposals.

Misconception: R21 is not “R01 light.” R21 isn’t the same as an R01 minus the proposal page count and with less funding. In fact, the R21 is actually the R01 on steroids when it comes to ideas. R21s are meant for high-risk ideas that have the potential to make a huge impact on science, with new models, new techniques or old techniques used in new areas, Dr. Lewis notes.

So you have a limited budget, a short amount of time (two years max) and a high bar to meet to nab an R21. But if you have a groundbreaking, game-changing idea that you’d like to begin to explore, this grant just might be the right one for you.

Must-have, expert guidance inside this special report includes:

  • Risk & Reward: Is R21 Right for You? (pg. 5)
  • How to Squeeze Your Research Strategy into R21’s 6 Pages (pg. 8 )
  • Perfect Your ‘Approach’ to Impress Reviewers (pg. 12)
  • Follow an Easy R21 Proposal Outline & Checklist (pg. 14)
  • NIH Agencies that Will/Won’t Accept R21s (pg. 15)










Introductory-Rate: Purchase this 17-pg. Special Report in digital (PDF) format at the special rate of $129 (reg. price $199).


The informational products above are brought to you as training tools by the Principal Investigators Association, which is an independent organization. The products presented and their contents are not connected with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), nor are they endorsed by these agencies. All views expressed are those personally held by the author and are not official government policies or opinions.