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

May 2020

Division of Extramural Research

Back to top


The goal of the NIDCR Award for Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) is to provide longer-term support to NIDCR-funded mid-career investigators who have outstanding records of research productivity, mentorship, and professional service to the research community. It is expected that the SOAR Award will propel investigators along this career trajectory and allow them to embark on ambitious high-risk, high-reward projects of extraordinary potential within the mission of NIDCR.

Back to top


The overall goal of this initiative is to provide sustained and flexible support to NIDCR-funded mid-career investigators, who have outstanding records of research productivity and service to the research community; to conduct exceptionally innovative research with extraordinary potential for improving dental, oral, and craniofacial health. This award provides a longer base of grant support (up to 8 years), allowing investigators to have more freedom to perform high-risk, high-reward research that has the potential to break new ground or expand previous discoveries in new directions. It is anticipated that this sustained and flexible support will also foster creativity, allow emerging scientific and technological advances to be pursued, maximize research time, enable additional mentoring activities, and provide an opportunity to focus on enhancing career growth. This initiative requires the investigator to develop an overall research program, including future scientific directions and strategies that build on prior research accomplishments in the area of dental, oral, and craniofacial health and disease.

Since approval of the initial concept clearance by the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council in January 2015, seven funding opportunities have been issued: RFA-DE-17-002, RFA-DE-18-002, RFA-DE-18-011, RFA-DE-19-005, RFA-DE-20-002, RFA-DE-22-001, and RFA-DE-24-006.

Back to top

Key Features and Requirements

  • Eligibility is limited to investigators with at least one active NIDCR-supported R01 or R01-equivalent, AND at least 5 years of continuous NIDCR support as program director / principal investigator (PD/PI), on September 30 of the preceding fiscal year (FY), excluding fellowships and career development awards.
  • Applicants must have no more than 10 years of research career experience following the loss of their early stage investigator (ESI) status at the time of application. Loss of ESI status could be due to receipt of a competitive substantial NIH independent research award, or expiration of status.
  • Research Strategy:
    • Background: Describe the general area of dental, oral and craniofacial research of interest and its state of the science. Identify significant knowledge gaps across the research landscape and challenges to bridge these gaps. Describe the overall scope and impact of the proposed research program to the field.
    • Research Program: Describe the overall vision, conceptual framework, and roadmap to pursue broad and challenging research questions/directions. Identify general strategies for furthering and sustaining this research program, including plans for building on prior accomplishments to formulate a highly innovative program for advancing and transforming the research field.
    • Predictors of Success: Describe elements that contribute to the strong prediction of success in continuing and maintaining a soaring trajectory in groundbreaking research, such as a collaborative network, resources, environment, and relevant technological advances.
    • Suitability for the SOAR Program: Justify that the career stage suits the SOAR Program and demonstrate that the scope of research is sufficiently comprehensive, forward-thinking, and innovative to follow a soaring trajectory and benefit from the increased flexibility and duration of the SOAR Program.
  • Letter of Support: Required from the applicant's institution in evaluating and endorsing the outstanding research productivity of the PD/PI and their career potential, as well as on institutional commitment.
  • Bio Sketch: Required to include a description of track record of mentorship and professional service to the research community.
  • During the SOAR Award, investigators have the freedom, within the broadly defined scope of the research, to move in unanticipated directions within the mission of NIDCR, with an emphasis on research of high-risk, high-reward, or of extraordinary potential.
  • Only single PD/PI applications are allowed.
  • Required minimum level of effort is 6.12 person months (51%).
  • Budgets are limited to $650,000 direct costs per year for up to 8 years.
  • A permanent change of PD/PI will not be allowed under the SOAR Award. A temporary change of PD/PI or a temporary reduction in effort may be allowed with prior approval under circumstances such as sabbatical leave, medical conditions, disability, or personal or family situations, such as care of a family member.
  • Awardees are required to consolidate their NIDCR single PD/PI research grant support, including R01, R21, R03, R56, R15, and DP2.
  • In addition to standard review criteria, reviewers evaluate the PD/PI’s track record (past productivity, quality, and impact of PD/PI’s previous work, mentoring activities, and professional service) to assess the investigator’s potential to perform innovative and groundbreaking research, and suitability for long-term support through the SOAR Award.
Back to top

Funding Outcomes

From FY16 to FY23, thirteen awards have been made. Applications responding to the FY24 funding opportunity are pending review. 

Grant Number PD/PI Degree(s) Institution Project Title
R35-DE026602-04 Klein, Ophir M.D., Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco Harnessing Natural Stem Cell-Based Strategies for Mammalian Dental Renewal
R35-DE026631-04 D'Souza, Gypsyamber M.P.H., Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University Impacting the Oral HPV Continuum: Prevention, Screening, and Early Detection
R35-DE027551-03 D'Silva, Nisha D.D.S., Ph.D. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Improving Survival in Oral Cancer by Disruption of Tumor Progression
R35-DE027557-03 Brugmann, Samantha Ph.D. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Harnessing the Therapeutic Potential of Neural Crest Cells by Manipulating the Primary Cilium
R35-DE027556-03 Feng, Pinghui Ph.D. University of Southern California Exploring Roles of Protein Deamidation in Oral Inflammation
R35-DE027550-03 Crump, Gage Ph.D. University of Southern California Progenitor Regulation in Craniofacial Development and Regeneration
R35-DE028252-02 Merritt, Justin Ph.D. Oregon Health & Science University Advancing Studies of Polymicrobial Diseases Via Streptococcal Genetics
R35-DE028255-02 Knox, Sarah Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco Defining Mechanisms Driving Salivary Gland Regeneration
R35-DE029083-01 Pfeifer, Carmem D.D.S., Ph.D. Oregon Health & Science University Novel Polymeric Materials with Improved Durability in the Oral Environment
R35-DE029086-01 Eberhart, Johann Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin Mechanisms Underlying the Multifaceted Basis of Craniofacial Dysmorphogenesis
1R35DE030054-01 Sunwoo, John M.D., M.A. Stanford University Reprogramming the Tumor-Immune Interface in Oral Cancer
1R35DE030045-01 Chung, Man-Kyo D.M.D., PH.D. University of Maryland, Baltimore Trigeminal Nociceptors: Neural Intersection of Chronic Pain and Alveolar Bone Remodeling
1R35DE031926-01 Bush, Jeffrey Ohmann PH.D., M.S. University of California, San Francisco Signaling Control and Cellular Basis of Craniofacial Morphogenesis and Congenital Disease
Back to top

Selected Publications from SOAR Awardees

Back to top
Last Reviewed
April 2024