New EUREKA awards fund highly innovative research, promise big payoffs

November 02, 2009

The National Institutes of Health has awarded 56 grants of up to $67.4 million to support highly innovative research projects that promise big scientific payoffs. The new awards are part of the EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) program, which helps scientists test new, unconventional ideas or tackle major methodological or technical challenges.

"EUREKA awards reflect NIH's continued commitment to funding transformative research, even if it carries more than the usual degree of scientific risk," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The grants seek to elicit those 'eureka moments' when scientists make major theoretical or technical advances."

EUREKA researchers will receive direct costs of approximately $200,000 per year for up to four years. Ten of the projects totaling $10.6 million are two-year grants supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Among the new grants are projects that seek to:

Develop new vectors to facilitate the use of gene therapy to treat neurological diseases in children and adults.
Miguel Sena Esteves, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School

Use single-celled bacteria and yeast to understand the evolution of circadian clocks, which control sleep-wake cycles and other daily rhythms in humans and other organisms.
Carl H. Johnson, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Develop a system for mining the published literature to validate scientific predictions of protein structure and function, which could help improve the accuracy of prediction and facilitate progress in identifying targets for drug discovery.
Karin Maria Verspoor, PhD., University of Colorado

"The research supported by EUREKA could provide us with new concepts, tools and approaches that have a profound impact on our understanding of biology--from fundamental life processes to human diseases and behavior," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which led the development of the EUREKA program.
A list of EUREKA grants is available at

In addition to NIGMS, the other NIH components funding EUREKA projects are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Library of Medicine.

For more information about EUREKA, see arrange an interview with a EUREKA program leader, contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or

NIGMS supports basic research to increase our understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to

The National Institute on Drug Abuse supports most of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at

The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit

The NINDS ( is the nation's leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The NINDS mission is to reduce the burden of neurological disease -- a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world.

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Library of Medicine is the world's largest library of the health sciences. For more information, visit the Web site at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- The Nation's Medical Research Agency -- includes 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 it 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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