Frequently Asked Questions About DMID Partnerships Program Funding Opportunities Announcements Using the R21/R33 Grant Mechanism

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What is the Partnerships Program?

In 2002, NIAID initiated the Partnerships Program as a component of the broad U. S. Department of Health and Human Services strategic plan to develop countermeasures against emerging and re-emerging biological threats. The Partnerships Program supports collaborative efforts and multidisciplinary approaches to discover new products or platform technologies and advance promising candidates through the early- to mid-stage product development pathway.

The R21/R33 mechanism supports the early-stage Partnerships Programs.

What is an R21/R33 Phased Innovation grant?

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

Transition to the R33 depends on the applicant's completing of transition milestones that he or she proposed (which are evaluated in peer review and negotiated with NIAID program staff before the R21 is awarded), as well as program priorities and the availability of funds.

The NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) accepts R21/R33 applications only in response to requests for applications (RFAs).

What is the budget and project period for the R21 phase?

The R21 phase is limited to $275,000 in direct costs over the two-year R21 project period, with a maximum of $200,000 in direct costs (excluding consortium facilities and administrative costs) allowed in any single year.

What is the budget and project period for the R33 phase?

The R33 award phase is limited to up to $300,000 in direct costs (excluding consortium facilities and administrative costs) each year for up to three years.

Are there separate applications for each component, one for the R21 phase and one for the R33 phase?

No. Applicants must submit a single application that includes both the R21 and R33 phases. This also means that applicants must include a budget that covers both phases. The combined R21 and R33 Research Strategy is limited to 12 pages.

How are R21s/R33s funded?

Funding decisions are based on the scientific merit of the proposed project as determined by the peer review panel, as well as programmatic priorities and available funds. Projects selected for support receive an R21 award.

Whom do I talk to after the initial peer review meeting?

Contact the assigned DMID program officer identified on your summary statement.

Why might transition milestones need to be modified before an award is made?

The transition milestones are often modified to accommodate concerns or recommendations noted by the peer review panel, programmatic guidance, or changes in the state of the science since the application was submitted. If your application is being considered for funding, DMID program staff will initiate discussion about potential modifications to the transition milestones. Any changes need to be approved by the program officer.

What happens with the negotiated milestones?

The final negotiated milestones are signed by you and your institutional signing official and submitted to the NIAID grants management specialist as a just-in-time document through the eRA Commons. The final transition milestones are added to the official application file and included in the R21 Notice of Award.

How many R21 awards are expected to transition to the R33 phase?

Budgets for the R21/R33 program allow for approximately 50 percent of the funded R21 awards to transition to the R33 phase.

When does the transition occur?

If approved, transition to the R33 phase occurs at the end of the R21 project period following a transition evaluation process.

What is the transition evaluation process?

Transition to the R33 phase is based on an evaluation of a Transition Request Package (see below) submitted by the R21 awardee.

Two panels of NIAID scientists with appropriate subject matter expertise determine which projects have best accomplished their milestones and are best prepared and poised for transition to continue the proposed research activities. The assigned program officer, who does not participate in the evaluation, presents specific project information to the panels.

This evaluation is not a peer-review activity and no feedback is provided. Transition evaluation decisions are not appealable.  

What are the principal transition evaluation criteria?

Successful transition to the R33 phase is based on transition milestone accomplishment, preparation to continue the proposed research activities, programmatic priorities, and availability of funds.

What is included in the Transition Request Package?

The Transition Request Package includes

  • PHS 2590 Non-Competing Continuation Progress Report
  • Statement of milestone accomplishment (less than 10 pages)
  • Suggested modifications to the R33 plan
  • Other information (as required)

How and when do I submit the Transition Request Package?

R21 awardees receive an informational letter from grants management detailing the process and due date for submitting the Transition Request Package. The package is due two months before the end of the R21 phase.

What happens if I don’t accomplish my transition milestones?

The R21 awardee may opt out of the transition evaluation. Note that there is no option for applicants to delay submission of the Transition Request Package.

What happens if I don’t transition to the R33 phase?

The R21 project ends at the end of the two-year project period. Awardees may be eligible for a no-cost-extension for up to 12 months. Complete the first no-cost extension in the eRA Commons no later than the last day of the R21 phase.

More Information

We offer additional Questions and Answers not specific to this opportunity. For more on how peer review works at NIAID, see our Review Process section.​

Content last reviewed on November 9, 2016