NIH director announces 2006 Pioneer Award recipients

September 20, 2006

Bethesda, Md. -- Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, today named 13 recipients of the 2006 NIH Director's Pioneer Award.

Now in its third year, the Pioneer Award is a key component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The program supports exceptionally creative scientists who take highly innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical research.

"The 2006 Pioneer Award recipients are a diverse group of forward-thinking scientists whose work could transform medical research," said Zerhouni. "The awards will give them the intellectual freedom to pursue exciting new research directions and opportunities in a range of scientific areas, from computational biology to immunology, stem cell biology, nanotechnology, and drug development."

The 2006 awardees, who will each receive $2.5 million in direct costs over five years, are: NIH selected the 2006 Pioneer Award recipients through a special application and evaluation process. After NIH staff determined the eligibility of each of the 465 applicants, the first of three groups of distinguished experts from the scientific community identified the 25 most highly competitive individuals in the pool. The second group of outside experts then interviewed the 25 finalists at NIH in August 2006.

The Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, performed the final review and made recommendations to Zerhouni based on the evaluations by the first two groups of outside experts and programmatic considerations.

"In addition to supporting outstanding research, the Pioneer Award is an innovation in its own right. It is one way we are exploring of funding unconventional ideas that are promising but might not fare well in the traditional peer review system," Zerhouni noted.

"I am pleased that enthusiasm for the Pioneer Award program led a record number of NIH components-- 11 in all -- to contribute their own funds to the program this year, allowing us to support nearly twice as many awards as the NIH Roadmap budget provided," Zerhouni added.
Biographical sketches of the 2006 NIH Director's Pioneer Award recipients are available at More information on the Pioneer Award, including details on the 22 scientists who received awards in the first two years of the program, is at

The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research is a series of far-reaching initiatives designed to transform the nation's medical research capabilities and speed the movement of research discoveries from the bench to the bedside. It provides a framework of the priorities the NIH must address in order to optimize its entire research portfolio and lays out a vision for a more efficient and productive system of medical research. For more information about the NIH Roadmap, please visit the Web site at

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- The Nation's Medical Research Agency -- is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

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