NCI Pathway to Independence Award for Outstanding Early Stage Postdoctoral Researchers (K99/R00 Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

The purpose of the NCI Pathway to Independence Award for Outstanding Early Stage Postdoctoral Fellows (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 to launch competitive, independent research careers. Researchers in the scientific areas of data science and cancer control science are especially encouraged to apply. 

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is designed specifically for applicants proposing research that does not involve leading an independent clinical trial, a clinical trial feasibility study, or an ancillary clinical trial. Applicants to this FOA are permitted to propose research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor. Applicants proposing a clinical trial or an ancillary clinical trial as lead investigator, should apply to the companion FOA (RFA-CA-20-015).


  • Duke Internal Deadline: Dec. 16, 2019. This RFA is only open to DCI members.
  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date
  • Application Due Date(s): February 26, 2020

RFA-CA-20-014 Expiration Date: February 27, 2020

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

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.

Candidates for this RFA 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 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 PDs/PIs are not allowed.

For this RFA, K99/R00 applicants must have no more than 2 years of postdoctoral research experience as of the application due date. Individuals must be in mentored, postdoctoral training positions to be eligible to apply to the K99/R00 program. If an applicant 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.

Parental, medical, or other well-justified leave for personal or family situations of generally less than 12 months duration is not included in the 2-year eligibility limit, nor is clinical training with no research involvement (e.g., full-time residency training). Part-time postdoctoral research training, related to personal or family situations or occurring during a research residency or fellowship, will be pro-rated accordingly. In addition, time spent conducting postgraduate clinical training that does not involve research is not considered as part of the 2-year research training eligibility limit. Only time dedicated to research activities would count toward the 2-year limit.

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

      The Duke Cancer Institute is invited to submit three nominees for each FOA.  Each application of the three per FOA must be in a different scientific area, Data Science, Cancer Control Science or Other Sciences.  The scientific areas are defined in Section III, Part 3 of the RFA in the below links.


      To be considered for nomination, the following is required. 


      1. Two (3) page summary of candidates plan for career development/training activities and research strategy.  Please specify which scientific area you are applying for as well as whether or not your application includes a clinical trial.

      2. Applicant’s eligibility

      2. Budget and budget justification

      3. Applicant and mentor’s Biosketch


      Internal applications will be reviewed by the DCI’s Scientific Review Committee.


      Applications for internal review are due to Erin Carr in one PDF no later than Monday, December 16th at 5:00pm. Selected nominees will be notified by Monday, January 6th.  The sponsor deadline for the selected nominees is February 26th.

      Internal Deadline

      December 16, 2019

      External Deadline

      February 26, 2020