The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Pioneer Award (NDPA) was initiated to support innovative investigators with the creativity and talent to pursue high risk and potentially high-impact ideas in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Over the course of the program, the criteria for selecting awardees have shifted in several ways: from the sole merit of the individual investigator toward a combination of the merits of the candidate and the scientific idea, targeting women, minorities, and early-to-mid-career investigators. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess changes in the pilot program. The evaluation assessed the award selection process and determined whether the program operations were consistent with program goals.
Despite changes in program processes over time, the fundamental purpose and intent of the program did not change. Application reviewers, however, had different understandings of what were meant by key terms in the review criteria such as “pioneering.” Evaluators pointed out that there were challenges defining these terms without losing flexibility and diversity in the applications. They suggested exploring additional ways to identify non-traditional scientists who tend not to apply for NIH grants, and increasing the number of awards.
Report Title: FY2004 - 2008 NIH Director's Pioneer Award Process Evaluation - Comprehensive Report
Agency Sponsor: NIH, National Institutes of Health
Federal Contact: Rosanna Ng, 301-496-5367
Performer: IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI)
Record ID: 9332 (Report issued January 30, 2010)