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Yes, NCI Still Funds R21s!

In the past few weeks I have visited with faculty, fellows, and students at several local universities and have talked with peer reviewers attending a recent NIH study section.  A number of people have shared with me their perception that NCI no longer funds R21.  Hopefully this blog will clarify the situation.

Last year senior NCI leaders made a decision to allow the omnibus R21 program announcement (PA) to expire.  This PA allowed investigators to submit applications with any idea they developed.  Allowing this PA to expire was a difficult decision undertaken only after extensive discussion and evaluation of the NCI grant portfolio.  My understanding is that there was an ever increasing volume of high quality R21 for a limited pool of funding.  In addition, some of these applications did not address program priorities.  Senior leadership also questioned whether some of these R21 applications could have been submitted as small R01.  I imagine it was hard for our senior leaders to justify continuing to have the extramural community invest substantial effort into R21 applications that were decreasingly likely to be funded than R01.

NCI is now operating like it did for many years before the omnibus R21 PA was issued.  R21 applications that are responsive to PA or requests for applications (RFA) can be submitted.  Of the many PA and RFA currently open, the topics that may be of particular interest to healthcare delivery researchers include: health disparities; characterizing and reducing stigma to improve health; dissemination and implementation; survivorship care planning; and end-of-life and palliative care in adolescents and young adults.  You can learn more about DCCPS funding opportunities with an R21 component at  The Provocative Questions initiative also includes a call for R21 applications relevant to healthcare delivery research (see question 12).  

In addition to the current R21 opportunities available, the Healthcare Delivery Research Program is busy developing new PA and RFA.  When small grant applications make sense scientifically, we include an R21 option!

Please contact us if you have questions about R21 options and the responsiveness of your idea.

Ann M. Geiger, MPH, PhD; Acting Associate Director