Applications with multiple PDs/PIs will not be accepted. Only single PD/PI applications are allowed. Only the PD/PI may be listed as a Senior/Key Person and provide a Biographical Sketch.
U.S. citizenship is not required for PDs/PIs. For applications submitted on behalf of non-U.S. citizens with temporary U.S. visas, visa status must allow the PD/PI to conduct the proposed research at the applicant institution for the entire project period. The applicant institution is responsible for determining if and documenting that the PD's/PI's visa will allow the PD/PI to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the award.
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.
Awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs.
The project period is limited to five years.