NIDCR Award for Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR; R35)

Division of Extramural Research and Division of Extramural Activities, NIDCR


The objective of the R35 award is to provide long term support to experienced investigators with outstanding records of research productivity. This support is intended to encourage investigators to embark on long-term projects of unusual potential.


The overall goal of this new grant mechanism is to provide sustained and flexible support to NIDCR-funded investigators with outstanding records of research productivity entering their mid-career stage, to conduct exceptionally innovative research, with unusual potential for improving dental, oral and craniofacial health.  This award provides a longer base of grant support, allowing investigators to have more freedom to perform high risk research that breaks new ground or expands previous discoveries in new directions.  Applications will describe the investigator’s overall research program, including future scientific research directions and strategies that build on existing accomplishments to transform research in dental, oral and craniofacial health and disease. 

Basic requirements of the R35 grant mechanism:

  • Only single PD/PI applications are allowed. Applications with multiple PD(s)/PI(s) will not be accepted.
  • Minimum of 50% level of effort is required.
  • Budget request for up to $750,000 direct costs per year is allowed.
  • Up to eight years of support could be provided.
  • Duration and level of support, as well as level of effort will be determined based on factors related to overall fiscal and programmatic management.
  • In lieu of Specific Aims, applicants should describe an overall vision for their research program, research challenges and directions, with an emphasis on innovation for advancing their research field.

Options for NIDCR-specific requirements:

  • Eligibility is limited to investigators who have completed the project period of their first R01/U01 award, and successfully renewed the R01/U01, or successfully obtained a second R01/U01.  Applicants should have no more than nine years of continuous NIH R01/U01 support.  This targets investigators entering their mid-career stage, and complements strategies for supporting new and early stage investigators as well as the Method for Extending Research in Time (MERIT; R37) award for exceptionally accomplished well-established investigators, who would be in their second decade or beyond of their research career.
  • Letters of support are required from applicant institution.  These letters should describe the investigator’s career potential as well as evidence of institutional commitment, e.g. salary support, space, protected time, and/or access to cores/facilities.
  • Reviewers will evaluate the investigator’s prior accomplishments, and plans to build on these accomplishments to formulate a highly innovative research program.
  • Additional components of review criteria will be used to assess whether the investigator’s track record of scientific innovation and productivity could continue at a soaring trajectory toward ground-breaking research. 
  • Additional considerations will be given to the investigator’s track record of mentorship and service to the research community.
  • Awardees are expected to consolidate their NIDCR R01 support.  Time and effort on existing NIDCR grants will be renegotiated to accommodate the required minimum level of effort for the R35.  The level of effort refers to research time, and does not include clinical, teaching and administrative duties.  The exceptions to consolidation include multi-PI grants, conference grants, institutional training grants, cooperative agreements, i.e. U awards, contracts, and grants from outside of NIDCR support.
  • Maximum project period is eight years and annual renewal is dependent on progress review.  Progress will be assessed annually, based on standard reporting requirements.  In addition, awardees will be invited for an annual meeting to present their accomplishments with a focus on innovation.  Renewal to years six, seven and eight will be based heavily on evidence that the PD/PI career and productivity remain at soaring trajectory.
  • Investigators have the freedom, within the broadly defined scope of the research, to move in unanticipated directions, with an emphasis on research of high risk or of unusual potential.
  • NIDCR R35 grantees may apply for additional NIDCR support as single PD/PI only during years 6-8.  Grantees may apply for support from other NIH Institutes at any time, as well as grant mechanisms excepted from consolidation.

Alignment with Institute Goals and Strategic Plan

This initiative is aligned with overall goals of the NIDCR Strategic Plan 2014-2019, as well as NIH’s commitment to provide more stable support for investigators at all career stages.


NCI Outstanding Investigator Award (R35), PAR-14-267
Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (R35), RFA-GM-16-002
NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (DP1), RFA-RM-13-006
NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2), RFA-RM-13-007
Formula for Innovation: People + Ideas + Time (Blog post by Dr. Sally Rockey and Dr. Francis Collins)

Last Reviewed
June 2020