NIMH Policy Update for Career Awards (K-Series)

Notice Number: NOT-MH-05-008

Key Dates
Release Date: April 21, 2005

Issued by
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (

This notice provides a revision and update of the most recent NIMH POLICY UPDATE FOR CAREER AWARDS (K-SERIES) that was published in the NIH Guide on February 8, 2002. This document is intended to complement the policies of the trans-NIH K-series program announcements (see below).

The purpose of this notice is to address NIMH-specific issues regarding the following program announcements:

PA-00-019: Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01)
PAR-99-169: Scientist Development Award for New Minority Faculty (K01)
PA-00-020: Independent Scientist Award (K02)
PA-00-003: Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08)
PA-00-004: Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
PA-04-107: Mid-Career Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24)
PA-02-127: Mentored Quantitative Research Career Development Award (K25)
PAR-01-065: NIMH Research Career Award for Transition to Independence (K22)
PA-00-021: Senior Scientist Award (K05) – As of May 2, 2005, NIMH will no longer accept new K05 applications, but will continue to accept amended applications. Non-competing applications will continue to be supported. (The phase out of the K05 award is discussed at

At the time of this notice, the expiration date of many of the career award program announcements has been extended This notice applies to these and any subsequent reissued career award program announcements.

Relevant career award announcements can be found at:

NIMH General Policy on Career Awards

K01, K08, K22, K23 and K25 Awards:

NIMH mentored career development award mechanisms (K01, K08, K22, K23 and K25) are intended to assist new investigators at stages beyond postdoctoral training to gain additional supervised experience in order to become independent scientists. Support for the K01, K08, K22, K23 and K25 awards is limited to one 3-5 year term, and is usually restricted to one mentored career award per individual.

Applicants are expected to pursue research and career development activities directly relevant to the mission of the NIMH. Applications with marginal or no relevance to the Institute’s mission ( will be considered unresponsive and will be returned to the applicant without review. Therefore, it is very important that prospective applicants contact the appropriate Institute staff, prior to preparing an application. Contact information for appropriate institute staff can be found at

NIMH generally discourages mentored K awardees from applying for independent NIH research grant during the initial stages of the mentored K award (corresponding approximately to the first 2-3 years of the award). However, NIMH mentored career award recipients are encouraged to apply for independent research support during the later years of the mentored career award. During the last two years of mentored K support, NIH policy permits award recipients to reduce the level of effort required for their career development award to no less than 50% and replace that effort with effort on an NIH research grant or subproject provided that they remain in a mentored situation. This NIH policy will permit those mentored K award recipients who are ready to compete for NIH research grants to continue to benefit from the period of protected time offered by the career development award. For specific details regarding the policy on concurrent support from a mentored career development award and a research grant, see

Regardless of the timing, when a research grant application is subsequently submitted to the NIH requesting support that overlaps the period of mentored K award support, the awardee must describe how the career development and research supported through the mentored K award will be modified should the research grant application be funded. The applicant should describe how the career award and the research grant applications are related, highlighting any areas of scientific overlap. Because R01 and several other research grant mechanisms follow modular budgetary guidelines, any budgetary overlap issues will need to be resolved with NIMH staff prior to award. It should be noted that no salary for the principal investigator will be provided as part of the research grant prior to the last two years of the career development award. Mentored K award recipients are strongly encouraged to discuss these issues with NIMH program staff prior to submitting a research grant application.

K02 and K24 Awards:

The early to mid-career awards, K02 and K24, are available for two five-year terms (including one competitive renewal). Beginning on October 1, 2005, only investigators with active, peer-reviewed, independent research support from the NIMH at the time of submission may apply for a K02 or K24 award from NIMH. Eligibility for renewal of K02 or K24 awards is also limited to those who have an active NIMH grant at the time of application. Support from either the K02 or K24 or any combination of these two awards is limited to two, five-year terms.

For the purpose of these policies, NIMH grantees are PIs on active R01, R24, R37, P01, P20, P30, P50, U01 and U10 grants. Investigators who are subproject investigators on NIMH P or U series grants, or who are principal investigators on a subcontract of any other grant mechanism, are not eligible.

Scientists who hold a position with committed salary support for research or whose primary responsibility is administrative must demonstrate a compelling need for a K02 or K24 award.

NIMH Policy on Allowable Costs

The unique aspects of NIMH allowable costs in the categories of salary and research support are listed below.

Salary for the K01, K02, K08, K23, K25 and the extramural phase of the K22 Award:

The NIMH will contribute up to 100% of the Principal Investigator's institutional base annual salary, up to a maximum of $90,000. Note that the salary allowance will be commensurate with the actual level of effort up to $90,000. The salary must be based on a full-time, 12–month position and must be consistent both with the established salary structure at the institution and with salaries actually provided by the grantee institution from its own funds and/or non-federal funds to other staff members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities in the applicable department.

The NIMH career award programs (except the K24) require recipients to devote a minimum of 75% of full-time professional effort to research and career development activities during the period of the award. Fringe benefits are requested separately from salary and must be based on the salary requested in the application.

Following peer review, detailed budget information will be requested for selected applications. When this information is submitted to NIMH, it is important to note that the salary amount requested must reflect the actual salary effective at the start date of the potential award and may not be modified mid-year.

Beginning with competing awards made in fiscal year 2003, the NIMH will limit salary increases on career awards to no greater than 3% per year, up to the maximum allowed, in order to comply with the NIH total cost commitment policy. Awards that began prior to fiscal year 2003 continue to be governed by the NIMH policies in place at the time the competing application was funded.

Salary and Research-Related Expenses for the K22 (intramural phase) and K24 Award:

Please note that the K24 award and the intramural phase of the K22 award differ somewhat from the other career development mechanisms covered under this policy notice. Therefore, the applicant is referred to the K22 and K24 program announcements for additional information about salary and research-related expenses.

Research Development Support for K01, K08, K23, K25 and the extramural phase of the K22 Award:

The NIMH allows a maximum of $50,000 annually for allowable research-related expenses outlined in each program announcement. Applicants must justify requested costs.

Research Support for the K02 Award:

Only K02 awardees who are engaged in predominantly theoretical work, such as modeling or computer simulation, are eligible to request up to $25,000 annually for research expenses as outlined in each program announcement. Applicants must justify requested costs.

NIMH Policy on Change of Institution

Institutions are encouraged to use the mentored career awards to help transition the awardee from mentored research to independence. NIMH realizes that new investigators often need to obtain external support and/or move to another institution in order ultimately to secure a more independent position. It is therefore the policy of NIMH to be flexible with regard to transfer to another institution.

Instructions for Change of Institution

An abbreviated (see below) application must be submitted by the new institution.

The transfer request must be submitted at least three months in advance of the desired effective date to allow the necessary time for staff review.

Note: NIMH will continue to allow an awardee to transfer from one institution to another, with prior approval of the responsible Program Officer. The period of support requested can be no more than the time remaining within the existing original award project period. No transfer will be allowed for awards with less than six months remaining in the project period, during a period of administrative extension or after a project has terminated. The abbreviated application (use Form PHS 398, revised 09/2004, Research Career Award Section), which will initially be evaluated by the Program Officer, should provide detailed information in the areas outlined below:

Section I Basic Administrative Data:

A complete face page (form page 1) should provide information on all items and include all appropriate signatures. The "abstract" page (form page 2) should include a brief summary of the goals of the research and career plans, as well as the reason(s) for the transfer of institution, and identify key personnel. The table of contents substitute page (substitute form page 3) should be used to indicate the page numbers for appropriate sections (see below). The budget pages (form pages 4 and 5) should provide information for the period of support remaining within the current award project period. Budgets in the new application cannot exceed the total amount previously approved for each of the remaining budget periods. Justifications are required for any costs that differ significantly from previously approved budget items (e.g., personnel costs, equipment, and other expenses). The resources format page, and continuations as necessary, should provide detailed information about the new institution and the facilities available to the Principal Investigator. A completed checklist form page and current Other Support for the Principal Investigator and sponsor(s) are required. The personnel report format page should be included if new collaborators have been added. The personal data form page should be omitted.

Section II Specialized Information:

1. The Candidate

Part (a). Letters of Reference (for mentored awards): New letters of reference are not required.

Parts (b, c, d). Candidate's Background, Career Goals, and Career Development: because this is an important aspect of a career development award, provide detailed information on these topics. Give examples of how the career goals and career development will be enhanced by the move to the new institution.

2. Statement by Sponsor(s), Consultant(s), and Collaborator(s)

Provide detailed information if any of these individuals will change from the original application, or if the applicant's modes of interaction with these individuals will differ. It is critically important to provide a detailed statement by any new sponsor(s) for mentored career development awards (K01, K08, K22, K23, and K25), especially indicating the scientific credentials of the new sponsor. If the current sponsor(s) will continue to mentor the applicant after the grant is transferred to the new institution, describe the new working relationship.

3. Environment and Institutional Commitment to Candidate

Parts (a, b). This section is perhaps the most important in terms of evaluation of the merit of the request to transfer the grant to another institution. Particular attention should be paid to NIMH policies articulated in this notice.

4. Research Plan

Describe any changes to the original research plan, and explain how the research plan may be enhanced by the move to the new institution. Please note that the originally proposed research plan should continue to serve as the basis for the research that will be conducted at the new institution. K02 and K24 awardees should give examples of potential new collaborations (provide letters of commitment under #2 above) that might improve the overall plan.

NIMH Staff Review:

Prior to the final year of award, transfer of career grants to another institution may be approved, without peer review, under the circumstances stipulated below. Therefore, early consultation with NIMH program staff is critical for transfer of the grant to a new institution. It is strongly recommended that potential transfer applicants contact the NIMH program staff listed on their official Notice of Grant Award for consultation and guidance prior to submitting the transfer application. Transfer applications for career award grants should be sent to grants management staff listed at the end of this document.

The Program Officer’s review will assess the degree to which the goals of the original peer reviewed application (as evidenced in the most recent summary statement) will be met at the new institution. Critical among these considerations will be the continued capacity to carry out full-time research; the potential to contribute significantly to the scientific field of study as evidenced by research productivity; clear and high likelihood that the new environment will contribute to scientific development and productivity; scientific and technical merit of the research plan and its consistency with the career development plan; the new mentor's research and mentoring qualifications in the scientific area of study; and strong institutional environment and commitment. After consideration, the Program Officer will recommend either approval or disapproval of the requested transfer. In the event of disapproval (which is not subject to appeal), the grantee has the option of submitting a new application that encompasses the remaining period of time of the award from the new institution for peer review in the next review cycle.


Consultation with NIMH staff ( is encouraged especially during the planning phase of the application. Prospective applicants may visit the NIMH Research Training and Career Development Website: to obtain additional information.

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Rebecca Claycamp
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6122, MSC 9605
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 443-2811
FAX: (301) 443-6885

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices

Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) - Government Made Easy

Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.