NIH Blueprint and BRAIN Initiative Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award (F99/K00 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

The purpose of the NIH Blueprint and BRAIN Initiative Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award is to support a defined pathway across career stages for outstanding graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences. This two-phase award will facilitate completion of the doctoral dissertation and transition of talented graduate students to strong neuroscience research postdoctoral positions, and will provide career development opportunities relevant to their long-term career goal of becoming independent neuroscience researchers.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) does not allow applicants to propose to lead an independent clinical trial, but does allow applicants to propose research experience in a clinical trial led by a sponsor or co-sponsor.


  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date
  • Application Due Date(s): December 15, 2021; April 15, 2022; December 15, 2022; April 14, 2023; December 15, 2023.

RFA-NS-21-012 Expiration Date December 16, 2023

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

F99 Eligibility: Domestic institution/organization types listed above that grant PhD or equivalent research degrees (e.g., DrPH, ScD) are eligible to submit an application. More than one F99 application per institution is allowed.

K00 Eligibility: Domestic institution/organization types listed above, including Federal laboratories, are eligible to submit K00 transition phase applications on behalf of F99 awardees. There is no limit on the number of K00 awardees that an organization may sponsor. Note that if the F99 awardee accepts a postdoctoral position in the NIH intramural research program or another federal agency, the postdoctoral phase (K00) will not be awarded, as federal employees are not eligible for NIH extramural grants.  The postdoctoral phase will be then be supported directly by the federal agency offering the postdoctoral position.

By the time of application, 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).  

The applicant must have a baccalaureate degree and be currently enrolled as a graduate student in a PhD or equivalent research doctoral degree program (e.g., EngD, DNSc, DrPH, DSW, PharmD, ScD) in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences at a domestic institution. The applicant must be conducting neuroscience research in a topic area relevant to NIH Blueprint mission-relevant areas and/or BRAIN Initiative research areas. Note that NIDCD participation is limited to BRAIN Initiative research areas only; NIDCD does not participate in the NIH Blueprint.

At the time of award, the applicant must be at the dissertation research stage of training and is expected to require 1-2 years to complete their PhD dissertation research training (F99 phase) before transitioning to mentored postdoctoral research training (K00 phase). At the time of application, the applicant will typically be in the third or fourth year of their graduate program. The applicant must show evidence of high academic performance in the sciences and commitment to a career as an independent neuroscience research scientist.

The D-SPAN F99/K00 award may not be used to support studies leading to the MD, DDS, or other clinical, health-professional degree (e.g., DC, DMD, DNP, DO, DPM, DVM, ND, OD, AuD). Students matriculated in a dual-degree program (e.g. MD/PhD, DO/PhD, DDS/PhD, or DVM/PhD) are not eligible for the F99/K00 program.

If an applicant begins a postdoctoral position or completes all PhD dissertation requirements before an F99 award is made, neither the F99 award nor the K00 award will be issued.

Each candidate may submit one fellowship application at a time: An individual may not have two or more competing NIH individual fellowship applications pending review concurrently. A candidate for an NIH D-SPAN F99/K00 Award may not simultaneously submit or have an application pending for any other PHS fellowship award (e.g. F31 or any other PHS award that duplicates any of the provisions of the F99/K00 award).

      Funding Type



      African American
      Grad/Prof Students
      Minorities encouraged
      Native American
      Women of Color


      Engineering and Physical Sciences
      Environmental & Life Sciences
      Medical - Basic Science
      Medical - Clinical Science
      Medical - Translational

      External Deadline

      December 15, 2023