NIDCD Early Career Research (ECR) Award (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

The NIDCD Early Career Research (ECR) Award (R21) is intended to support both basic and clinical research from scientists who are beginning to establish an independent research career. It cannot be used for thesis or dissertation research. The research must be focused on one or more of the areas within the biomedical and behavioral scientific mission of the NIDCD: hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, or language. The NIDCD ECR Award R21 grant mechanism supports different types of projects including secondary analysis of existing data; small, self-contained research projects; development of research methodology; translational research; outcomes research; and development of new research technology. Irrespective of the type of project, the intent of the NIDCD ECR Award R21 is for the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) to obtain sufficient preliminary data for a subsequent R01 application.

Only one NIDCD ECR Award (R21) application may be submitted by a PD/PI per due date. PD/PIs who successfully obtained an NIDCD Small Grant award are ineligible for an NIDCD ECR Award (R21).

Applicants may not submit an NIDCD R01, R15 or R21 application for the same review cycle that the NIDCD ECR Award application is submitted. In such cases, the NIDCD ECR Award R21 application will be withdrawn.  

Application Due Date(s): February 26, 2021; June 24, 2021; October 28, 2021; February 24, 2022; June 23, 2022; October 27, 2022; February 23, 2023; June 29, 2023; October 26,2023; February 27, 2024

PAR-21-107 Expiration Date New Date February 28, 2024 (Original Date: October 27, 2023) per issuance of NOT-DC-24-007

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

The PD/PI must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or valid U.S. visa holder. The PD/PI must be no more than 7 years beyond the date that the first professional, advanced professional, or terminal academic degree was awarded, whichever is most recent. The 7 year eligibility period will be calculated based on the MM/DD/YYYY the degree was awarded. The last application due date, not the application submission date, that falls within the 7 year eligibility period will be the last date an application may be submitted. Formal years of clinical training (Internship, Residency, and Fellowship) are not counted as part of the 7 year limit. In addition, exemption of years for clinical training is not limited to physicians. For example, individuals with clinical training or clinical fellowship years in Clinical Molecular Genetics, Audiology, or Speech-Language Pathology are also eligible for our exemption. Under certain rare and compelling circumstances, NIDCD will accept requests for an extension to the 7-year standard eligibility period for its NIDCD ECR Award (R21) program. For extensions please contact the Program Coordinator listed in Section VII. Agency Contacts. The request for an extension must be made prior to the expiration of the standard 7 year eligibility period.  

A resubmission will be allowed even if the 7 year eligibility period has expired provided the resubmission application is received within 37 months from the original submission due date based on current NIH Guidelines (NOT-OD-14-074).  For further information please contact the NIDCD ECR Award (R21) program coordinator listed in Section VII. Agency Contacts.

The PD/PI may be an independent early stage investigator or a late-stage postdoctoral fellow still in his/her mentor's laboratory. However, if still a postdoctoral fellow, there should be a clear commitment to the provision of laboratory space and a clear indication that a transition away from the mentor is being initiated and that the research project will be transferable to another U.S. institution.

Questions regarding eligibility should be addressed prior to beginning to prepare the application by contacting the appropriate staff member listed in Section VII. Agency Contacts.

Individuals who have served as PD/PI on any NIH research grant (including an R01, R03, R15, R21, SBIR/STTR, subprojects of program project or center grants) or any other federally-funded research grant (e.g., NSF, DOE, VA) are NOT eligible for the NIDCD ECR Award Grant Program. However, former recipients of Federally-funded National Research Service Award fellowships and traineeships (i.e. F- and T- series awards) or mentored career development awards (i.e. K awards) are eligible for the NIDCD ECR Award grant program. Recipients of the K99/R00 award are not eligible to apply for the NIDCD ECR Award (R21).



    Amount Description

    The combined budget for direct costs for the entire project period may not exceed $375,000. No more than $125,000 in direct costs may be requested in any single year.

    The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period. The maximum period of support is 3 years.

    Funding Type



    Junior Faculty
    Medical Fellow/Resident
    Post Doctoral Fellows


    Medical - Basic Science
    Medical - Clinical Science

    External Deadline

    February 27, 2024