Skip Navigation

Mechanisms of Support

The IMAT Program utilizes the R21 and R33 mechanisms to fund high-risk, high-innovation technology platforms and approaches. IMAT Program RFAs thus solicit applications under these funding mechanisms for three rounds of review each year.

  1. R21 mechanism – constitutes exploratory/pilot phase of a research project grant; requires innovative technology/approach and appropriate quantitative milestones; preliminary data, while not required, is allowable; Please see the announcement for page requirements.
  2. R33 mechanism – constitutes developmental phase of a research project grant; requires feasibility data; Please see the announcement for page requirements.

In the first or R21 phase of the program, applicants are asked to submit a grant application which includes a description of the proposed study followed by a set of quantitative milestones that are used to judge feasibility. Applicants must clearly describe the technology proposed for development, and its anticipated use for research and/or patient care. The description may be that of a novel cancer research tool, a new detection methodology or platform, or a treatment technology which may be used in either a research setting or directly for clinical care.

Successful applicants to Phase I of this phased process will received an R21 award. The R21 award will be of modest budget and limited time (e.g., up to $500,000 in Direct Costs for a three year modified R21 award, with no more than $200,000 being requested in any single year). The goal of an R21-funded project should be to demonstrate general technical feasibility through the accomplishment of the outlined quantitative milestones. Applications to the R33 funding opportunities do not necessarily have to be initially funded by an IMAT R21 grant. For an R33 application, the technology being developed should have obtained preliminary data demonstrating that the project is technical feasible but still requires advanced development to validate the technology in context of the biological system(s) it will be applied to. If the R33 application is intended to support the continuation of a technology development project funded by an IMAT R21, the new application should describe how the quantitative milestones in their completed R21 were met or were not met.

The R33 application will include the final set of negotiated milestones together with an adequate description of the completion of the milestones. This portion of the application will be followed by a thorough description of the plan for developing the technology and a description of the perceived impact the technology will have on cancer. Peer-reviewers for these applications will be asked first to triage applications based on completion (or lack thereof) of milestones. Those applicants found not to have demonstrated feasibility, as judged by their milestones, will be ineligible for further discussion and thus triaged from further review. Those applications which have demonstrated completion of the milestones will then be discussed by the review group with an emphasis on the development plan and the importance and timeliness of the problem to be addressed by the technology.

For a complete list of current IMAT Program funding opportunities, please click here.

Specific Attributes of the NIH R21 Mechanism Within the IMAT context. The R21 mechanism is intended to encourage new exploratory and pilot research projects with an element of technical risk. Proposed projects are expected to be novel. The technology proposed for application should be at the inception, conceptual stage at which technical feasibility of the proposed technology or methodology has not yet been established. These studies may involve considerable risk but may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area that could have a major impact on cancer research.

Specific Attributes of the NIH R33 Mechanism Within the IMAT context. Projects utilizing the R33 funding mechanism are more developmental in nature, and should be predicated upon the establishment of proof of principle through prior research (i.e. proof-of-principle already established), and which may or may not have been previously supported by an exploratory R21 grant.  The R33 project is expected to generate sufficient data to fully validate the technology in a biologically relevant setting and demonstrate its full utility in addressing biological, translational, clinical and/or epidemiological questions. Technologies resulting from a completed R33 project may subsequently be further refined (e.g., in partnership with industry) into commercial product(s).