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Mechanisms of Support



The IMAT Program utilizes the R21/R61 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/R61 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. The IMAT program has historically used the R21 mechanism to support early stage technology development. Beginning in 2022, IMAT is replacing the R21 with the R61 grant mechanism. IMAT program staff held a pre-application webinar to introduce the R61 grant mechanism. You can click here to view the webinar slides. A recording of the webinar is available to be viewed through vbrick. The research strategy section of the R61 application is limited to 6 pages, as described in NOT-CA-22-050 and NOT-CA-22-051
  2. R33 mechanism – constitutes developmental phase of a research project grant; requires feasibility data; Please see the announcement for page requirements.

For the R21/R61 mechanism, applicants are asked to submit a grant application which includes a description of the proposed study followed by a set of quantitative performance measures 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. The R21/R61 award will be of modest budget and limited time. The goal of an R21/R61-funded project should be to demonstrate general technical feasibility through the accomplishment of the outlined performance measures.

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. The R33 application also requires quantitative performance measures to indicate how the applicant will determine if their technology is successful. Applications to the R33 funding opportunities do not necessarily have to be initially funded by an IMAT R21/R61 grant. If the R33 application is intended to support the continuation of a technology development project funded by an IMAT R21/R61, the new application should describe how the performance measures in their completed R21/R61 were met or were not met. The application will also include a thorough description of the plan for developing the technology and a description of the perceived impact the technology will have on cancer.

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

Specific Attributes of the NIH R21/R61 Mechanism Within the IMAT context. The R21/R61 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. The IMAT R61 limits the Research Strategy section to 6 pages.

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/R61 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).