Worcester-based RNAi-focused therapeutics firm RXi Pharmaceuticals Corp. has won an Advanced Technology Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in the amount of $300,000 per year for two years. The Phase 1 grant is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

RXi officials noted in a press release today that the grant will support the company’s pre-clinical development of RNAi therapeutics.

“The reviewers cited the significance of RXi’s proposal to human health, scientific innovation, capability of RXi’s team, and rigor of the proposed experimental approach,” said Anastasia Khvorova, chief scientific officer at RXi.

While the Phase 1 project will last two years, RXi may request a Phase 2 award, worth up to $1 million per year and potentially lasting up to three years.

RXi (Nasdaq: RXII) was founded in 2006 by University of Massachusetts researcher Craig Mello, who was a winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his co-discovery of RNAi.

The company announced last month that it had teamed up with Royal Philips Electronics of The Netherlands to research RNAi-based therapeutics delivery technology.