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NIH Research Funding for Early Career Investigators

Module by: Rice ADVANCE. E-mail the author

Summary: This presentation introduces the reader to the things to consider when finding fundingand was presented by Judith Greenberg (NIH).

Overview

  • Applying for an NIH grant: The basics
  • Special programs for early-career investigators
  • Resources

Applying for an NIH grant: The Basics

  • Start with a great idea!
    • Is it novel?
    • Does it address an important problem?
    • Will scientific knowledge be advanced? Will it move the field forward?
  • Be realistic, not overly ambitious
  • Write a focused, clear, understandable application; link hypotheses and approaches to specific aims - Presentation is important
  • Discuss rationale, potential obstacles, alternative approaches
  • Propose alternative interpretations; don’t appear too wedded to your hypothesis
  • Don’t assume reviewers know as much as you do about your project
  • Get advice from mentors; ask colleagues (outside your immediate research area) to read drafts
  • Learn as much as you can about the grants process
  • Look at study section descriptions and rosters http://cms.csr.nih.gov/ - you may request assignment
  • Find out whom to contact for information and when – program officer, grants management officer, scientific review officer
  • If you don’t get funded on the first try, don’t give up! Pay attention to critiques, and revise and resubmit

What is a new investigator?

  • Never had an R01 or equivalent grant from NIH
  • For some programs, must be within 10 years of latest degree

Special programs for early-career scientists

  • Kirschstein-NRSA Individual Fellowships (F32)
  • Career Development Awards (K)
  • NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2)
  • NIH Research Supplements to Promote Diversity

Kirschstein-NRSA Individual Fellowships (F32)

  • Individual postdoctoral research training support
  • Must be US citizen, non-citizen national, or US permanent resident at time of award
  • Provides stipend and institutional allowance for up to 3 years
  • Research supervised by faculty mentor

Selected Career Development Awards (K)

  • K01 - Mentored Research Scientist Development Award: To provide support and “protected time” (3-5 years) for an intensive, supervised career development experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence
  • K02 - Independent Scientist Award: To provide support for newly independent scientists who can demonstrate the need for a period of intensive research focus as a means of enhancing their research careers
  • K08 - Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award: To provide support and “protected time” to individuals with a clinical doctoral degree for an intensive, supervised research career development experience in the fields of biomedical and behavioral research, including translational research
  • K25 – Mentored Quantitative Research Development Award: To attract to NIH-relevant research those investigators whose quantitative science and engineering research has thus far not been focused primarily on questions of health and disease
  • K99/R00 - Pathway to Independence Award (see next section): To provide an opportunity for promising postdoctoral scientists to receive both mentored and independent research support from the same award

Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

  • Designed to facilitate a timely transition from a mentored postdoctoral research position to a stable independent research position at an earlier stage than the norm
  • Up to 5 years of support consisting of 2 phases
  • Phase I provides 1-2 years of mentored support for highly promising, postdoctoral research scientists
  • Phase II provides up to 3 years of independent support contingent on securing an independent research position
URL:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/pathway_independence.htm

NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2)

  • To stimulate highly innovative research
  • To support promising new investigators
  • One application receipt period per year
  • 10-page application
  • Awards provide up to $1.5 million in direct costs for 5 year project period

NIH Research Supplements to Promote Diversity

  • For individuals from under-represented groups or disadvantaged background
  • Provides supplements to R01 and other grant mechanisms to support individuals at various career stages from high school through investigator

But remember...

The R01 is still the major source of support for early-career investigators and is the “gold-standard.”

Some good news for new investigators

  • NIH has set a target for the number of awards to new investigators
  • NIH Enhancing Peer Review Report (2008) also recommends
    • Establishing an Early Stage Investigator (ESI) designation
    • Clustering the reviews of ESI applications

Web resources – Read and ask questions

And don't forget...

  • Contact NIH program officers – identify from NIH home page http://www.nih.gov/
  • Talk to your institution’s sponsored research office
  • Consult your former advisers and current senior colleagues

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