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NIH Unleashes Mondo-Mega-Grants to Devour Disease

Scientists are racing to get their applications in for NIH's latest scheme for using the $10.4 billion it got in the stimulus bill—jumbo-sized Grand Opportunities, or GO, grants. It will spend $200 million on 2-year awards funded for $1 million or more—at least 35% larger than R01 grants, the mainstay of the NIH system.

Unlike NIH's other big stimulus competition, the Challenge Grants, which can be up to $1 million, the GO projects will require at least that much money. NIH wants to fund "high impact" short-term projects, which could mean answering a research question or creating infrastructure. That might entail validating disease biomarkers or using information technology to share radiology images across hospitals.

Many NIH institutes have listed specific projects they're interested in.

Johns Hopkins University molecular pathologist Anirban Maitra says the GO grants are "like a big sister" to the Challenge Grants; he suggests that only "the big guys" will try for them. Unlike the Challenge Grants, which could draw 10,000 applications, this competition won't generate an avalanche of proposals that have to be peer-reviewed. That's because grant seekers first have to send NIH a letter of intent (by 27 April), which NIH staff will use to pare down the possible proposals. The agency announced the GO competition on 23 March but for some reason only got around to issuing a press release today.