Request for Information (RFI): Inviting Comments and Suggestions on the Surgeon-Scientist effort requirement on K08 awards from the National Cancer Institute
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
January 05, 2021
Response Date:
February 11, 2021

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PA-20-203 - Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (Parent K08 Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOT-CA-17-042 - NCI will support training in Patient-Oriented Research through K08 Awards and increase K08 Salary and Research Support

NOT-CA-17-043 - Notice of NCI’s Withdrawal from Participation in PA-16-198 "Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (Parent K23)"

NOT-DK-05-015 - NIDDK and NCI Career Development Program Urologic Surgeons

NOT-CA-21-054 - Updated NCI Guidance Concerning the Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award: Percent Effort of Surgeon-Scientists for K08 awards from NCI

Issued by

National Cancer Institute (NCI)


The NCI is committed to the career development of clinically trained research scientists and their roles in cancer biology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. Providing support and "protected time" to non-tenured clinician-scientists at the early career stage for an intensive, mentored research career development experience in basic, translational, and/or patient-oriented cancer-focused research remains one of the NCI's top priorities in addressing the Nation's biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs.

In response to the Physician-Scientist Workforce Working Group (PSW-WG) report of 2014, NCI increased salary and research support for K08 grants making them more attractive to physician-scientists (NOT-CA-17-042). As a result, the number of K08 applications submitted to NCI has steadily grown since 2017.The NIH report also indicated a 27% decline in the number of surgeon-scientists pursuing research careers during the period from 2007-2014. It is acknowledged that among all medical specialties, surgeons require significant clinical activity in order to maintain their clinical competency skills and, in general, may be unable to devote the required level of effort of at least 75% to research and career development activities on mentored career development awards (K-grants).

In addition, since 2005 NCI has allowed urologic surgeons to have a minimum 50% effort on their research and career development activities under K08 grants (NOT-DK-05-015). In an attempt to further optimize the existing career development mechanism (K08) and to make it a more attractive and efficient career development vehicle for surgeon-scientists,

NCI now proposes to make the following change:

To allow U.S.-licensed surgeon-scientists with active surgical duties to request less than the required 75% effort under a K08 career development award for the specific purpose of maintaining specialty clinical competency. Applicants may not request less than 50% effort devoted to research and career development activities and must provide a justification clearly stating the reasons for the reduced amount of effort.

NCI invites comments and suggestions from the research and clinical community specifically with regard to this proposed change and more generally regarding effort for surgeon-scientists under the K08 award.

Information Requested

The NCI is interested in soliciting comments and opinions to the following questions:

1. Is 50% effort sufficient for active surgeon-scientists to succeed in their research and career development activities under the K08?

2. If a minimum 75% full-time effort requirement were to remain for all surgeon-scientists, would your institution be willing to grant you this level of protected time or would this preclude you from applying for the NCI K08?

3. Should there be a uniform effort requirement for all surgical specialties/subspecialties? Are there exceptions to the rule for certain surgical specialties/subspecialties?

4. Please feel free to provide any other comments and suggestions relevant to the discussion topic - K08 effort requirement for surgeon-scientists.

How to Submit a Response

All responses must be submitted electronically as follows:

Responses to this RFI Notice are voluntary and may be submitted anonymously. Submitted information will not be considered confidential. Please do not include any proprietary, classified, confidential or sensitive information in your responses. Responses are welcome from associations and professional organizations as well as individual stakeholders.

This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health, or NCI. The information submitted will be analyzed and may be shared internally, appear in reports or be reflected in future solicitations, as appropriate and at the Government’s discretion. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and will not provide feedback to respondents.

Applications are not being solicited at this time.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Cancer Training Branch

Center for Cancer Training, NCI


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