NCI Pathway to Independence Award for Early-Stage Postdoctoral Researchers (K99/R00 - Independent Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

The purpose of the NCI Pathway to Independence Award for Early-Stage Postdoctoral Researchers (K99/R00) program is to increase and maintain a strong cohort of new and talented, NCI-supported, independent investigators. This program is designed for postdoctoral fellows with research and/or clinical doctoral degrees who do not require an extended period of mentored research training beyond their doctoral degrees. The objective of this award is to facilitate a timely transition of these fellows from their mentored, postdoctoral research positions to independent tenure-track (or equivalent) faculty positions. The program will provide independent NCI research support during this transition to help awardees launch competitive, independent research careers. Researchers in the scientific areas of cancer control, cancer prevention and cancer data sciences are especially encouraged to work with their institutions to apply.

This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is designed specifically for candidates proposing to serve as the lead investigator of an independent clinical trial, a clinical trial feasibility study, or a separate ancillary clinical trial, as part of their research and career development. Those not planning an independent clinical trial, or proposing to gain research experience in a clinical trial led by another investigator, must apply to companion NOFO (PAR-23-286).

This Notice of Funding Opportunity is for basic science experimental studies involving humans, referred to in NOT-OD-18-212 as “prospective basic science studies involving human participants.” These studies fall within the NIH definition of a clinical trial and also meet the definition of basic research. Types of studies that should be submitted under this NOFO include studies that prospectively assign human participants to conditions (i.e., experimentally manipulate independent variables) and that assess biomedical or behavioral outcomes in humans for the purpose of understanding the fundamental aspects of phenomena without specific application towards processes or products in mind. Applicants not planning an independent clinical trial or basic experimental study with humans, or proposing to gain research experience in a clinical trial or basic experimental study with humans led by another investigator, must apply to the 'Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed' companion NOFO.

The proposed project must be related to the programmatic interests of one or more of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) based on their scientific missions.

Each eligible institution (defined as having a unique UEI number or NIH IPF number) may submit up to a combined total of four applications (one in Cancer Data Science, one in Cancer Control Science, one in Molecular/Precision Cancer Prevention, and one in Other Cancer Research) to any companion NOFO or any combination of companion NOFOs (PAR-23-286PAR-23-287, and/or PAR-23-288).


  • Duke Internal Deadline: Dec. 29, 2023. This RFA is only open to DCI members.
  • Application Due Date(s): Feb 14, 2024; June 14, 2024; Oct 15, 2024; Feb 14, 2025; June 16, 2025; Oct 14, 2025; Feb 17, 2026; June 15, 2026; Oct 14, 2026

PAR-23-288 Expiration Date: October 15, 2026

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

The sponsoring institution may be private (profit or nonprofit) or public, including the NIH Intramural Programs and other Federal laboratories.

The applicant institution will be the mentored phase (K99) institution. All institution/organization types listed above are eligible for both the mentored (K99) and independent (R00) phase, with the following exceptions: (1) Eligible agencies of the Federal government, such as the NIH intramural program, are eligible only for the mentored phase; and (2) Eligibility of organizations, other than institutions of higher education, for the R00 phase depends on the nature of the appointment, and the ability of the PD/PI to conduct independent research and apply for NIH research (R01 or R01-equivalent) grants.

NOTE: Candidates for this NOFO  are strongly encouraged to obtain confirmation of their eligibility from NCI before seeking institutional nomination. It is incumbent upon the candidate to provide evidence that all eligibility criteria have been met.

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 seek institutional nomination and 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. See, Reminder: Notice of NIH's Encouragement of Applications Supporting Individuals from Underrepresented Ethnic and Racial Groups as well as Individuals with Disabilities, NOT-OD-22-019. Multiple PDs/PIs are not allowed.

K99/R00 candidates must have no more than 2 years of postdoctoral research experience as of the relevant application due date. Individuals must be in mentored, postdoctoral training positions to be eligible for support under to the K99/R00 program. If a candidate achieves independence (i.e., any faculty or non-mentored research position) before a K99 award is made, neither the K99 award, nor the R00 award, will be issued.

Consistent with the NIH Extension Policy for Early Stage Investigator Status (ESI), NIH will approve an extension of one year for childbirth within the 2 year K99 eligibility window. Applicants with candidates who will be PD/PIs on a K99 application must provide the child’s date of birth in the extension request justification submitted to IC program officials and/or scientific/research contacts listed in the NOFO at least 12 weeks before submitting an application.

In addition, parental, medical, military, or other well-justified leave for personal or family situations of generally less than 12 months duration is typically not included in the 2-year eligibility limit, nor is clinical training with no research involvement (e.g., full-time residency training). Only time dedicated to research activities counts toward the 2-year limit. Part-time postdoctoral research training, related to personal or family situations or occurring during a research residency or fellowship, will be pro-rated accordingly.

Additional clarifications are provided under Frequently Asked Questions. Potential candidates are encouraged to discuss their individual situation with an NCI Scientific Program Contact before applying.

There is no citizenship requirement for K99 applicants. An applicant may be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States, 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 be a non-U.S. citizen.

For applications submitted on behalf of non-U.S. citizens with temporary U.S. visas, visa status during each phase of the K99/R00 award must allow the PD/PI to conduct the proposed research at the applicant institution. For the K99 phase of the award, the applicant institution is responsible for determining and documenting, in the K99 application, that the candidate’s visa will allow him or her to remain in the U.S. long enough to complete the K99 phase of the award. For the R00 phase of the award, the U.S. institution at which the R00 phase of the award will be conducted is responsible for determining and documenting, in the R00 application, that the PD/PI’s visa will allow the PD/PI to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the R00 award.

Candidates for the K99/R00 award must have a clinical or research doctorate (including PhD, MD, DO, DC, ND, DDS, DMD, DVM, ScD, DNS, PharmD or equivalent doctoral degrees). Clinicians (including those with MD, DDS, DVM 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.

          Funding Type



          Medical Fellow/Resident
          Post Doctoral Fellows


          Environmental & Life Sciences
          Medical - Basic Science
          Medical - Clinical Science
          Medical - Translational
          Social Sciences

          Internal Nomination

          All applicants use the following link to apply:

          • Two (2) page summary of candidates plan for career development/training activities and research strategy.

            • Which scientific area you are applying for (Data Science, Cancer Control Science or Other Sciences)
            • Whether or not your application includes a clinical trial or basic experimental studies with humans
            • Title of proposed project
            • Applicant’s eligibility
            • Project/Performance Site
          • Budget and budget justification
          • Applicant’s and Mentor’s NIH Biosketch

          Internal Deadline

          December 29, 2023

          External Deadline

          February 14, 2024