NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21)

The R21 grant mechanism is intended to encourage exploratory/developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development. The NIH has standardized the Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) application characteristics, requirements, preparation, and review procedures in order to accommodate investigator-initiated (unsolicited) grant applications.

Application Characteristics

  • You may request a project period of up to two years

  • The combined budget for direct costs for the two year project period may not exceed US$275,000. No more than US$200,000 may be requested in any single year.

  • The R21 can not be renewed

  • No preliminary data are required but may be included if available.

  • The Research Strategy may not exceed 6 pages.


  • Exploratory, novel studies that break new ground or extend previous discoveries toward new directions or applications.

  • High risk high reward studies that may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or result in novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models or applications that will impact biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.

  • Projects should be distinct from those supported through the traditional R01 mechanism.

All investigators should consult the list of participating NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) as well as the IC staff listed as contacts to determine if an R21 application is appropriate. Investigators are strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate NIH program administrator about their proposed research project during the concept development stage of the application.


  • Standard due dates for new applications are February 16June 16, and October 16.

  • Standard due dates for renewals, resubmissions and revisions are March 16, July 16, and November 16.

  • AIDS and AIDS-related grant application due dates are May 7, September 7, and January 7For additional information, the receipt, review and award cycle schedules are posted on the website.

The list of active funding opportunity announcements under the parent R21 program can be found here

Due to high number of different opportunities under this program, information about elgibility, funding, application forms and other requirements for all of them could not be posted here. If you are interested to apply or have questions about any of the opportunities under this program, please contact 

Please note that SFU Signature Sheet is due to 3 business days before the submission deadline. Overhead is at a fixed rate of 8% of modified total direct costs, exclusive of tuition and related fees, direct expenditures for equipment, and subawards in excess of $25,000.

Upcoming Deadlines