Substance Abuse: Chemical/Pharmacological Pilot Projects

R03 (also available: R21/R33)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) seeks to facilitate the entry of new/early stage investigators (ESIs) into substance use disorder (SUD) research. ESIs are invited to submit applications for small scale, innovative chemical/pharmacological pilot research projects. Importantly, the C/START award is intended to enable an ESI the opportunity to gather preliminary data in support of subsequent research grants or drug development funding opportunities that, in the long term, help to launch the ESI’s scientific career. 


  • Pre-Application Submission: N/A
  • Application Submission: 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization, Feb. 16, 2017; Jun. 16, 2017; Oct. 16, 2017; Feb. 16, 2018; Jun. 16, 2018; Oct. 16, 2018; Feb. 16, 2019; Jun. 16, 2019

Companion funding opportunity:


Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

To be eligible for a C/START award, the proposed principal investigator must be independent of a mentor at the time of award, but be at the beginning stages of her/his research career. No C/START award will be made to individuals in their training status (e.g., post-doctoral position); applicants may submit applications only after their training is complete. The proposed PD/PI may not have been designated previously as PD/PI on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) or federally-supported research project or component (except a dissertation research grant) or have received similar support from another federal agency (e.g., the National Science Foundation). Previous receipt of a National Research Service Award is permissible. Recipients of mentored K-awards are not eligible.

Because this program is targeted at newly-independent investigators, individuals who are more than five years beyond their training status should consider other mechanisms of support (e.g., K awards, R01 grants).