Notification of NINDS Programmatic Priorities for Use of the K24 Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research Award

Notice Number: NOT-NS-09-016

Key Dates
Release Date: August 12, 2009

Issued by
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (


The purpose of this notice is to notify investigators of programmatic priorities of NINDS in the use of the K24 award (PA-09-037).

This K24 award, as used by NINDS, provides protected time to mid-career, clinician-scientists to act as research mentors and to expand their own patient-oriented research. There is enormous need for mentoring of junior clinician-scientists in order to increase the pipeline of clinicians into successful research careers. The number of applications to NINDS by junior clinicians for Career Development (K) awards is sharply decreasing, and enhanced, large scale mentoring efforts will be one way to reverse this trend. Moreover, established clinical researchers are in an excellent position to attract junior PhD scientists into clinically-relevant, disease-oriented research. In addition to support of mentoring, the K24 provides protected time to established clinician-scientists, who dedicate time to mentoring, to expand their own research into new areas when opportunities arise. This notice serves not only to clarify the programmatic priorities of NINDS, but also to invite mid-career investigators with an established dedication to research mentoring to join in this effort to attract and promote the entry of junior scientists into clinically significant neuroscience research. 


The NINDS K24 will support a programmatic mentoring effort, combined with a plan to expand the applicant’s research. It will not be awarded exclusively to support on-going research efforts or for mentoring that is limited to one’s own research area or laboratory. In accordance with NIH guidelines, the K24 can be used to protect between 25% and 50% of the applicant’s time. It is expected that the focus of the application and the majority of the applicant’s effort on the K24 will be devoted to the mentoring program. 

Characteristics of mentoring efforts of high programmatic priority to NINDS

  1. The mentoring effort should be tied to a program of research training. Programmatic activities might include, 1) research training and mentoring of residents and fellows, 2) programs that draw PhD neuroscientists into disease-oriented research, 3) advising a department’s trainees and junior investigators on grant submission and grant writing, 4) advising a network of trainees and junior investigators on navigating and pursuing a successful, clinically-oriented research career and 5) development of and coordination of courses related to clinical research or neurobiology of disease. Although the population being mentored can include members of the applicant’s own research program, it should not consist primarily of this cohort.

  2. The applicant should be a well-established, mid-career investigator who combines exceptional research and clinical skills.  Although this is generally considered to be somebody at the Associate Professor level, mid-career applicants at the Full Professor level are also welcome to apply. Applicants must hold an R01 or equivalent funding and be actively involved in running a robust research program. The applicant’s research program may be completely clinical, or it may consist of disease-focused laboratory research with a patient-oriented component. 

  3. The applicant must be endorsed by the Department Chair as fulfilling the mentorship role proposed. The Chair should acknowledge, in a letter of support, that the applicant will be considered the department’s overall mentor, or coordinator, for the program described. For example, the applicant may be designated as the departmental mentor for research training of residents and fellows. This role might include oversight over the NINDS R25 program for support of residents and fellows in neurology and neurosurgery (, or see subsequent reissue), if the department has such an award. It is anticipated that there would be only one K24 recipient at any one time per department, unless the department is large and/or has multiple, substantial programmatic efforts that require multiple overseeing mentors.

Research support through the K24

Whereas the mentoring component of the K24 is of extremely high priority to NINDS, it is also critical that the K24 awardee maintain or enhance an already vigorous research program. Consequently, a portion of the K24 effort should go into expanding and/or enhancing the applicant’s research. This effort may include adding a new component to an already existing research project or it may be directed towards a new, highly significant research area. Ideally, this effort will help to generate new data that will open up a new area of research for the applicant, or it will allow the applicant to obtain new research training that is necessary to remain at the forefront of a research area. Although the K24 can be used to directly support a research component, NINDS does not require that a new research area be proposed. However, if salary support is requested to conduct research, the proposed research must be different from what is currently supported.

It is expected that applicants will have significant research support outside of the K24, typically an R01 or equivalent, for at least 3 of the 5 years of this award.

Evaluation of progress

Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide a detailed set of measurable goals that are anticipated to be achieved each year of the K24 award with regard to both mentoring and research. Particularly with regard to the mentoring component, applicants should provide a description of the proposed outcome of the K24 support and the metric(s) by which achievement of this outcome will be measured. For example, applicants may indicate how many trainees will be mentored, specifically what activities trainees will participate in that would not occur without the K24,  the planned outcome of this mentorship (e.g. the next career steps of the trainees, individual grant applications, etc.), the timeline by which the applicant expects to submit new research grant applications, courses that will be developed and how many trainees are expected to participate, how many PhD degree holders or students will transition into disease-related research and how this will be measured, etc. The choice of metrics and activities is up to the applicant, but there should be a clear description of expected outcomes of the K24 support.

What the NINDS K24 will not be awarded for

At NINDS, the K24 award will not be made solely for the benefit of the PI’s on-going research or solely to support mentoring directly related to the PI’s on-going research projects. The research effort by the applicant, and the mentoring of postdoctoral fellows working for the applicant, is covered by the research funding already obtained by the applicant, and is not an appropriate justification for obtaining K24 support. The K24 award does not support mentoring of clinical training but is solely awarded to promote mentoring in research.

Financial support by the K24

The award will supply salary and fringe for the PI and support for mentoring activities (course development [not tuition], travel, etc.). If the application proposes an expansion of research area, for which there is no current R-type funding, support may also be requested for the new research area. K24 support will not be provided to pay mentee’s salaries to work on projects currently funded by R-type research awards. The level of funding provided is described in the institute contact web page accessed through the program announcement.


Direct your questions about this Notice to:

Stephen J. Korn, Ph.D.
Director of Training and Career Development
Neuroscience Center, Room  2186
6001 Executive Blvd MSC 9531
Bethesda, MD 20892-9531


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