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R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award SOP

Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.Some links will work for NIAID staff only.

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.


To support a two-phased award without a break in funding in which transition to the second phase depends on several factors, including the achievement of negotiated milestones.


An R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award has two phases: 1) R21 for milestone-driven exploratory or feasibility studies with a possible transition to 2) the R33 for expanded development.

Transition to the R33 depends on the applicant's completing milestones (which were evaluated in peer review and negotiated with NIAID program staff before the R21 was awarded) as well as program priorities and the availability of funds.

NIAID accepts R21/R33 applications in response to a program announcement (PA) or request for applications (RFA) only.


Use the following guidelines to prepare your application, accept your award, and transition to an R33.

Preparing the Application

  • Prepare a single application with the following information:
    • One face page.
    • Research Plan for both the R21 and R33 phases.
      • Clearly state the Specific Aims for each phase, indicating under which phase each aim belongs.
      • Include a section labeled "milestones" describing milestones to be achieved during the R21 phase to qualify for the transition to the R33.
    • Detailed budget for both phases, clearly indicating in the justification pages which phase applies in each fiscal year.
    • Any other items required in the funding opportunity announcement.
  • If possible, provide preliminary data. Otherwise, give enough information to enable reviewers to assess the rationale of your hypothesis. 

R21/R33 Award

  • After initial peer review, your program officer may contact you to negotiate your R33 transition milestones, which will include recommendations from reviewers, NIAID staff, or possibly both. 
  • If your application is funded:
    • Read the Notice of Award, including the R21/R33 Terms and Conditions.
    • Read and keep for future reference the R21/R33 informational letter, which gives you detailed instructions on the R33 transition application and the deadline for applying without a break in funds. You will receive it shortly after getting the R21 award.
  • The initial R21 award will reflect the budget period for the first two years, although you can apply for the R33 phase at any time; see the next section.

Transition to the R33

  • When you believe you have successfully accomplished your milestones, prepare an R33 transition application.
    • Fill out a Non-Competing Continuation Progress Report (PHS 2590). Include the following items:
      • Summary of the R21 Specific Aims and importance of the work accomplished.
      • A section called “R33 Transition Milestones,” describing in detail the milestones and progress achieved in the R21.
      • Detailed budget pages each year of the R33 phase.
      • Revisions to address reviewers’ comments from the initial peer review if you feel that doing so would provide additional information about the R33 phase.
    • Complete any additional documentation requested by NIAID staff.
    • Note: PHS 2590 instructions direct you to use the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR). While you will use RPPR for all other progress reporting, do not use it for your R33 transition application. NIAID will use PHS 2590 until NIH provides an acceptable substitute.
  • Follow these additional formatting guidelines:
    • Keep your application to approximately 10 pages for the narrative portion of your transition application. You may include additional materials, including photos, graphs, and unpublished manuscripts in an appendix.
    • Since we may need to print your application for the internal review, use a file format that enables us to print it.
  • Email your R33 transition application to NIAID's Phased Innovation Award Coordinator Tamia Powell at  If the document is too large for an email attachment, send the files on a CD to:

    Tamia Powell
    5601 Fishers Lane, Room 4G54, MSC 9824
    Bethesda, MD 20892-9824
    (*use Rockville, MD 20852 for overnight and courier deliveries)

  • Submit an R33 transition application by the deadline date as outlined in the R21/R33 Informational Letter. The deadline is generally two months before the end of the R21 Phase. 
    • Keep in mind that an R33 can begin only at the end of an R21 budget year. The R21 Phase will not be terminated early to fund the R33 phase. 
    • If you have not successfully completed the R33 transition milestones by the end of the R21 funding period, select one of the following choices:
      • Opt out of applying for the R33 transition by closing out your award at the end of the R21 phase. Read File Your Final Reports at Award End in the Strategy for NIH Funding for more information.
      • Request a one-time no-cost extension through your institution for up to 12 months to continue the research so you can meet the milestones. You must submit a transition application at least two months before the end of this extension.
    • Discuss your decision with your program officer and grants management specialist prior to the transition application deadline.
  • NIAID will review your R33 transition application.
    • Your program officer may contact you for additional information if he or she cannot assess whether you have met your milestones.
    • We may recruit outside consultants for their scientific expertise to help assess whether you have met your milestones.
    • Everyone involved in this review will be held to NIH standards of confidentiality and conflict of interest.
    • Once NIAID program staff approve the other documents necessary for transition and determine that you have met your milestones, they will assess the priority of the project and availability of funds in the NIAID budget. 
  • If your application is approved, your award will make the transition to the R33. 
  • If your application is not approved, the phased innovation award coordinator will email you, your business official, your grants management specialist, and your program officer. NIAID will close out your award at the end of the R21 award period.

Program Officers, Scientific Review Officers, and Grants Management Specialists

For internal roles, see the Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award Staff Roles SOP.


Phased Innovation Award Coordinator, Tamia Powell

Applicants with questions should read Communicating With NIAID—How to Get Help.

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.


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Last Updated January 23, 2015

Last Reviewed January 23, 2015