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ID#: PA-11-197     Posted: 7 Mar 2012
NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00)
Deadline: 12 Jun 2012
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Type of Grant: Research
Topics/Fields of Support: Adjuvants, Animal model studies, B cell immunology and antibodies, Clinical trial site challenges, HIV persistence and latency, HIV transmission and acute infection, Human genomics, Immune escape, Innate immunity, Mucosal immunity, Novel immunogens, inserts and vectors, Pediatric/adolescent infections and trials, Preclinical and clinical vaccine trials, Prevention strategies, Social, ethical, access and regulatory issues, T cell immunity, Vaccine concepts and design, Viral Diversity, Other
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, HHS

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For more than 60 years, NIAID research has led to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies that have improved the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world. NIAID is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIH is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, please visit NIH (

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The overall goal of the NIH Research Career Development program is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists are available in appropriate scientific disciplines to address the Nation's biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. More information about Career programs may be found at the NIH Extramural Training Mechanisms website.

The objective of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) initiative is to assist postdoctoral investigators in transitioning to a stable independent research position with NIH or other independent research funding. One of the most challenging transitions in any research career is the transition from postdoctoral trainee to independent scientist. Reports from the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science (Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research, and Advancing the Nation’s Health Needs: NIH Research Training Programs) have highlighted the need for enhanced efforts to foster the transition of postdoctoral scientists from mentored environments to independence.

NIH believes that the creativity and innovation of new independent investigators in their early career stages play an integral role in addressing our Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. However, the average age of first-time (new) Program Director/Principal Investigators (PD/PI) obtaining R01 research funding from the NIH has risen to 42 years for Ph.D. degree holders and 44 years for M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. degree holders. The intent of the K99/R00 program is to help alleviate this trend and to assist new investigators in transitioning to stable independent research positions at an earlier age and with an enhanced probability of success in obtaining independent NIH or other independent research support.

In addition to this initiative, NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) support a variety of other mentored career development programs designed to foster the transition of new investigators to research independence, which may be more suitable for particular candidates. Information describing all NIH Career Development Award programs can be found at the K Kiosk - Information about NIH Career Development Awards.

Nature of the career/research transition opportunity

The K99/R00 award will provide up to 5 years of support consisting of two phases. The initial mentored phase will provide support for up to 2 years for the most promising and exceptionally talented new investigators who have no more than 5 years of postdoctoral research training experience at the time of initial application or subsequent resubmission(s) and do not already have a full-time tenure track assistant professor position (or equivalent). This initial phase of mentored support will allow the candidate time to obtain additional training, complete research, publish results, and bridge to an independent research position. The candidate must propose a research project that will be pursued during the K99 phase and transition into an independent project during the R00 phase of the award. The candidate and mentor(s) together will be responsible for all aspects of the mentored (K99 phase) career development and research program. An individual may submit an application from an extramural or intramural sponsoring institution/organization that has a rich and extensive research program in the area of interest as well as the faculty, facilities and resources to support the proposed research endeavor. The individual must select an appropriate mentor with a track record of funded research related to the selected research topic and experience as a supervisor and mentor. The sponsoring institution must ensure that the candidate has the protected time needed to conduct the proposed research.

Following the mentored phase, the individual may request up to 3 years of support to conduct research as an independent scientist at an extramural sponsoring institution/organization to which the individual has been recruited, been offered and has accepted a tenure-track full-time assistant professor position (or equivalent). This support is to allow the individual to continue to work toward establishing his/her own independent research program and prepare an application for regular research grant support (R01). Support for the independent phase, however, is not automatic and is contingent upon being accepted by an appropriate extramural institution and the successful NIH programmatic review of the individual’s mentored phase of the award.

Special Note: Applicants are cautioned that not all NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) participate in this program, and that consultation with relevant IC staff prior to submission of an application is strongly encouraged. The participating ICs have different emphases and program requirements for this program. Therefore, a prospective applicant is urged to consult the Table of IC-Specific Information, Requirements and Staff Contacts to determine whether the planned research and training falls within the mission of one of the participating NIH ICs.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any candidate with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is invited to work with his/her mentor and 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. Multiple Principal Investigators are not allowed.

By the time of award, the individual must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status), or for non-U.S. citizen/permanent residents, requirements are described below.

For non-U.S. citizen/permanent residents, the applicant U.S. institution for each phase of the application (K99 or R00) is responsible for determining and documenting in the application that the applicant investigator’s visa will allow him or her to remain in this country long enough to (a) transition to an independent research career in the U.S. during the proposed mentored (K99) phase and/or (b) be productive on the research project in the U.S. for the duration of the proposed independent research (R00) phase.

Candidates must have a clinical or research doctorate (including Ph.D., M.D., D.O., D.C., N.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M., Sc.D., D.N.S., Pharm.D. or equivalent doctoral degrees) and have no more than 5 years of postdoctoral research training at the time of application (resubmissions must also comply with this requirement). Clinicians (including those with M.D., D.D.S, D.V.M. and other licensed health professionals) in a clinical faculty position that denotes independence in clinical responsibilities but not in research may also be eligible for the K99/R00 award.

Ph.D. (or equivalent research doctorate degree) candidates in positions other than postdoctoral fellow positions: It is recognized that some institutions appoint postdoctoral fellows in positions with other titles although they are still in non-independent training positions. Candidates in such positions are encouraged to obtain confirmation of their eligibility before they begin to prepare their applications. It is incumbent upon the candidate to provide evidence that the position he/she is in complies with the intent of this eligibility requirement.

Evidence for non-independence may include:

  • The candidate’s research is entirely funded by other investigator’s grants.
  • The candidate’s research is conducted entirely in another investigator’s assigned space.
  • According to institutional policy, the candidate cannot hire postdoctoral fellows or be the responsible supervisor of graduate students.
  • According to institutional policy, the candidate is not allowed to submit an application as the principal investigator of an NIH research grant application (e.g., R01).
  • The candidate lacks other rights and privileges of faculty, such as attendance at faculty meetings.

Conversely, evidence for independence, and therefore lack of eligibility, includes:

  • The candidate has a full-time tenure track assistant professor position (or equivalent).
  • The candidate received a startup package for support of his/her independent research.
  • The candidate has research space dedicated to his/her own research.
  • The candidate may attend faculty meetings, be the responsible supervisor for graduate students, and/or hire postdoctoral fellows.
  • The candidate is eligible to apply for independent research funding as the principal investigator of an NIH R01 or other equivalent research grant.

Clinicians (including those with M.D., D.D.S, D.V.M. and other licensed professionals) in positions not designated as postdoctoral positions: Following clinical training or fellowship training periods, clinicians often obtain a clinical faculty position that denotes independence in clinical responsibilities but not in research. A clinical faculty member who does not hold an independent research faculty position may be eligible for the K99/R00 award, and should contact a Program Director at the relevant NIH Institute for guidance. Clinicians in such positions are encouraged to obtain confirmation of their eligibility before they begin to prepare their applications. Such individuals may also wish to consider other career awards available for junior faculty development.

Individuals are NOT eligible if they:

  • Have currently or previously held an independent research faculty or tenure-track faculty position, or its equivalent, in academia, industry or elsewhere; or
  • Have more than 5 years of related postdoctoral research training at the time of initial application or resubmission(s); or
  • Have been an independent PD/PI on NIH research grants (e.g., R01, R03, R21), NIH career development awards(e.g., K01, K07, K08, K23, K25), or other peer reviewed NIH or non-NIH research grants over $100,000 direct costs per year, or project leaders on sub-projects of program project (P01) or center (P50) grants.


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