Internal Deadline: Contact RII.
LOI: August 4, 2023
External Deadline: September 6, 2023
Award Type: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 12-13
Anticipated Award Amount: $5 million
Who May Serve as PI:
Time window for eligibility: Given the focus on early research independence, the receipt date of the terminal doctoral degree or end of post-graduate clinical training of the PD/PI must be between June 1, 2022, and September 30, 2024. The degree receipt date is that which appears on the official transcript for the degree. The end of post-graduate clinical training includes residency and fellowship periods. The PD/PI must not have served as a post-doctoral fellow for more than 12 months following a previous, non-terminal doctoral degree (i.e., a post-doctoral fellowship served before June 1, 2022).
At the time of award, either 1) the Early Independence investigator must have received a PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, DrPH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW, PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution (it is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution to determine if a foreign doctoral degree is equivalent), or 2) an authorized official of the degree-granting or training institution must certify that all degree requirements have been met and that the receipt date of the degree (as will appear on the transcript) will be before September 30, 2024. An authorized official of the host institution must certify that the PD/PI will be able to conduct independent research at the institution at the time of the project start date.
Level of effort: In the first and second years of the project period, awardees must commit at least 9.6 person-months of effort to the Early Independence Award project each year (which is 80% effort per year). In years 3-5 of the project period, awardees may reduce their effort on the Early Independence Award project, but they must still conduct at least 9.6 person-months of general independent research each year (which is 80% effort per year). General independent research includes the effort spent on the Early Independence Award project and any other independent research projects the awardee is working on.
Research independence at time of application: Individuals are eligible only if they, at the time of application submission, do not have research independence. Lack of research independence is defined functionally rather than by position title. Eligible individuals must have all the following characteristics:
- The PD/PI’s current research agenda is set through concurrence with mentors.
- The PD/PI’s research is funded primarily through support to other investigators (mentored fellowships such as NIH F31 or F32 Fellowships or NSF Graduate Research Fellowships do not preclude eligibility).
- The PD/PI does not have any space assigned directly by the institution for the conduct of their research.
- The PD/PI, according to institutional policy, cannot apply for an NIH R01 grant without a special waiver or exemption from the institution.
Though PDs/PIs must not be functionally independent at the time of application submission, they may become functionally independent prior to time of award and still retain eligibility for the award.
Prospective PDs/PIs should contact appropriate institutional leaders to seek an appointment to an independent research position. Alternatively, institutions may actively recruit eligible junior scientists to apply for support through this program. In either case, the institution is expected to provide substantial support for the junior scientist, as detailed below. To foster independence, PDs/PIs may benefit from being hosted by an institution at which they have not previously studied or trained.
PDs/PIs may apply for a research career development (K) award and DP5 at the same time, but NIH policy prohibits scientific and commitment overlap. A PD/PI may not hold a DP5 and career development (K) award concurrently. If the PD/PI receives a career development (K) award, the career development (K) award must be relinquished to receive the DP5.
Link to Award: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-RM-23-007.html
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) Application Portal: https://rii.usc.edu/oor-portal/. Use the template provided here: RII Limited Submission Applicant Template
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Two-Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 2-page limit will be excluded from review. You must use the template linked above.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award provides an opportunity for rigorous and promising junior scientists to accelerate their entry into an independent research career by forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period. Though most newly graduated doctoral-level researchers would benefit from post-doctoral training, a small number of capable junior investigators are ready to launch independent research careers. The Early Independence Award is intended for these select junior investigators, who have already established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and have demonstrated unusual scientific vision and maturity. Typical post-doctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into independent research. The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award also provides an opportunity for institutions to invigorate their research programs by bringing in fresh scientific perspectives of the awardees they host.
To be eligible, investigators, at the time of application, must have received their most recent doctoral degree or completed clinical training within the previous fifteen months or expect to do so within the following twelve months. To be consistent with the NIH definition of Early Stage Investigators, eligible clinical training includes clinical residency and clinical fellowship. For full eligibility requirements, see Section III. Eligibility Information.
NIH staff will conduct a site visit to assess the PD/PI’s progress and to ensure that they are receiving the institutional resources and support outlined in the application. By the end of the award period, Early Independence Award investigators are expected to be competitive for continued funding of their research program through other NIH funding activities and for permanent research-oriented positions.
In order to support the most innovative and impactful research, the NIH recognizes the need to foster a diverse research workforce across the nation. Talented researchers from diverse backgrounds (see Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity, NOT-OD-20-031), including individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women, are strongly encouraged to work with their institutions to develop applications for this Funding Opportunity Announcement. As outstanding research is conducted at a broad spectrum of institutions, it benefits the national scientific enterprise for NIH to support exceptionally innovative and impactful science that represents this breadth. Therefore, this Funding Opportunity Announcement encourages applications from the full range of eligible institutions, including minority-serving institutions, those that may be less research-intensive, and from all domestic geographic locations. Applications are welcome in all research areas broadly relevant to the mission of NIH. These areas include, but are not limited to, the behavioral, medical, natural, social, applied, and formal sciences. Research may be basic, translational, or clinical. The primary requirements are that the research be highly innovative and have the potential for unusually broad impact.
Prospective applicants are invited to a pre-application webinar on June 22, 2023, from 1:00-2:30 PM EDT. NIH staff will discuss the initiative and answer questions about the application and review process. Questions for the webinar should be submitted ahead of time to EarlyIndependence@od.nih.gov by 11:59 PM local time on June 20, 2023. Additional questions may be taken during the webinar if time allows. Register for the webinar and join on Webex. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the Early Independence Award website.
The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award is part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program funded through the NIH Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact. All Common Fund initiatives invite investigators to develop bold, innovative, and often risky approaches to address problems that may seem intractable or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.