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Changes to NIH R15 Program

NIH recently announced major changes to the R15 program that will affect the University of Tennessee and the UT Institute of Agriculture (which NIH considers one institution). NIH has split the R15 into two programs: Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) for Undergraduate-Focused Institutions, and Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP) for Health Professional Schools and Graduate Schools.

The Office of Research and Engagement has evaluated the eligibility criteria and has concluded the following:

  • UT and UTIA are eligible for AREA. This includes active solicitations PAR-18-714 and PAR-19-133.
  • UT and UTIA are not eligible for REAP. This includes active solicitations PAR-19-134 and PAR-19-135.

Principal investigators with a primary appointment in one of the following colleges are eligible to apply for AREA:

  • College of Art & Architecture
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • College of Communication & Information
  • College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences
  • Haslam College of Business
  • Herbert College of Agriculture
  • Tickle College of Engineering

A few additional things to be aware of related to AREA applications:

  • The required institutional letter is on file with the UT and UTIA Offices of Sponsored Programs for use in applications submitted to AREA solicitations PAR-18-714 and PAR-19-133.
  • Fewer NIH institutes and centers are participating in AREA, so please review the current list before developing your application.
  • Although AREA is undergraduate-focused, that does not preclude principal investigators from including graduate students in the project (or budget).

The official notice, additional explanation, and updated R15 webpage provide more detailed information about the changes.

Contact Jennifer Webster (, 865-974-2044) with questions or concerns about the transition and how it affects your application.