Exploratory Project Transition Award

Application Guidelines and Instructions

The purpose of these awards is to provide bridge support for transitioning an exploratory/small grant award such as a NIH R21 grant or a career development award such as an NIH K grant into a full, renewable (R01-type) funded research project.


Eligibility for an Exploratory Project Transition Award is restricted to investigators who have recently (within the last year) completed a peer reviewed, extramurally funded exploratory/small research grant of at least two years in original duration or a career development award of a least three years in original duration who seek to transition the project into a longer-term, funded project. The original exploratory/small grant must have generated an average of at least $100,000 of total direct costs/year, and have an indirect cost rate of at least 8%.

Conditions of the Award
  • Awards from this program will not exceed $20,000 for a six-month period, with renewal possible for a single (1) additional six-month period upon further application. See below for conditions required for a second six-month funding period.
  • If extramural grant funds (for the project in question) become available to the investigator during the period of the Emergency Project Transition Award, any balance in the Transition Award will be returned.
  • Funds may be used for personnel, fringe benefits, supplies, and contractual services.
  • The purpose of this HCRAC support mechanism is to maximize the potential of applicants to re-establish extramural research funding with the shortest possible period of interruption. Applicants must thus provide assurance that they will apply for extramural support for the Parent Grant or projects derived from it in a timely manner. It is expected that applicants will have already submitted an extramural grant application prior to seeking a first Exploratory Project Transition grant installment. In special circumstances the applicant may request a first Exploratory Project Transition grant prior to submitting a new grant application, but must provide a compelling explanation as to why they did not attempt to avoid a funding interruption. Please note that this exception does not apply for applicants transitioning from a career development award, who must submit a new extramural grant application prior to requesting a first Exploratory Project Transition grant. Submission of at least one extramural grant application based on the Parent Grant is mandatory, however, for second installment requests.
  • All applications for Exploratory Project Transition Awards must first be approved by the department chair or center director. The chair/center director should examine all financial resources available to the applicant as well as personnel, equipment, and supplies. For example, if the investigator has start-up or other discretionary funds available (except their individual investigator DCAA account), then HCRAC expects the investigator to exhaust those funds before seeking Transition Award support. The role of the chair/center director is to render his/her best judgment regarding the applicant’s need for funds in the context of the applicant’s other support and departmental resources.If the chair/center director does not endorse the request, the investigator may appeal the negative decision to the Grants Subcommittee of HCRAC. In such an instance, the chair/center director and investigator should both submit letters to Ms. Stephanie Holden describing the justifications for their different opinions.

Departmental/PI Contributions to Exploratory Project Transition Awards

The applicant’s department will be expected to provide 20% of the dollars awarded ($4,000 per six month period). PIs with funds in their own DCAA account will be expected to contribute to this support in accord with departmental/center practices. Research Finance recommends that 60% come from the department/center and 40% from the PI’s individual DCAA account. HCRAC will fund 80% of the award. If departmental funds are insufficient to support the 20 percent contribution, funding will be reduced to the amount provided by HCRAC. Departmental contributions may not be met with General Fund dollars.

 Faculty Salary Support on Exploratory Project Transition Awards

Tenured/tenure-track faculty salaries may not be supported with Exploratory Project Transition Award funds.


There are no deadlines for this program. Applicants may request support as needed. The Grants Subcommittee will meet whenever a need arises.

Application Procedure

First Six-month Period

Formal applications to this program must be made on the accompanying form and e-mailed to Stephanie Holden with the following attachments:

  • The original funded exploratory grant application.
  • The subsequent R01 (or equivalent) application for the project, and critiques from the funding agency. If an R01 (or equivalent) application has not been submitted, an explanation must be provided and the proposed Specific Aims for a full (R01) proposal must be substituted. The explanation must include a list of publications and presentations authored or coauthored by the applicant based on the original exploratory grant, and a list of agencies to which the proposal will be submitted.
  • A statement of Specific Aims for the Exploratory Project Transition Award, with clear milestones and a timetable that the applicant believes needs to be achieved to successfully compete for a full research award.
  • Departmental approval (see Conditions of the Award).

Second Six-month Period

The second six-month award is conditional upon demonstration of adequate progress toward the goal of obtaining continued funding for the project. HCRAC reserves the right to make this determination. Prior to disbursal of the 2nd award (assuming that the other conditions specified below have been met), the Transition Award applicant must provide HCRAC with the following materials:

  1. A full list of publications and presentations authored or coauthored by the applicant during the previous 6 month period
  2. A complete list of expenses charged against the Exploratory Project Transition Award to date
  3. A description of progress to date, including a narrative describing how previous critiques have been addressed and outlining a concrete strategy for obtaining continued funding for this project, referring specifically to the milestones and timetable described in the application for the first six months of support. All grant applications submitted and all summary statements received during the previous six-month period must be provided. If no proposal was submitted in the previous six-month period, the applicant must provide a compelling scientific rationale for this. Digital copies of these materials must be provided along with a budget proposal for this period.

Unobligated funds may not be carried over from one six-month period to the next, but the six-month period of the award can be extended. Exploratory Project Transition grants (including both installments) may not remain active for longer than two years.

Report the award of grants obtained with the help of the Exploratory Project Transition Award program to the chair of HCRAC.

Review Procedure

Applications will be reviewed by a subcommittee of HCRAC. Decisions will be based upon the following criteria:

  • Meeting the eligibility and scientific merit criteria set forth in the Exploratory Project Transition Award guidelines and application
  • Availability of funds.