Pre-Solicitation Announcement: The Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program

Notice Number: NOT-OD-11-030

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

  • February 2, 2011 - See RFA-OD-11-001 Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program (SI2).

Key Dates
Release Date: December 10, 2010

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


The purpose of this notice is to announce plans to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for a new program that will address the clinical research mission of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and will lead to better treatments for disease and to improvements in human health. The NIH funds research and research training at extramural institutions, as well as within the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) to address this goal. However, these efforts can be hindered by barriers to clinical and translational research. Such barriers include limited research time for clinical investigators, increases in the length of time to independent careers, and access to hospital facilities and patient enrollments.

In an effort to address those barriers, the NIH has created the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars (Lasker Scholars) program that will offer applicants the opportunity to compete for a unique combination of extramural and intramural resources for clinical research. The program will support a small number of exceptional clinical researchers in the early stages of their careers to promote their development to fully independent positions. The program combines a period of research experience as a tenure-track Principal Investigator in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) with an opportunity for additional years of independent financial support, either within the IRP or at an extramural research institution.

The program honors the contributions of Mary and Albert Lasker to the National Institutes of Health and to the overall biomedical community. The Lasker Foundation will provide Scholars with the opportunity to participate in selected activities, including attendance at the Lasker Breakfast and Award Luncheon, and participation in annual scientific meetings.

The IRP currently supports approximately 1,200 tenured and tenure-track investigators, as well as 5,000 postdoctoral and student trainees. It provides full funding to its clinical researchers, and includes the NIH Clinical Center, the nation’s largest hospital devoted entirely to clinical research. IRP clinician-scientists focus primarily on their research and research-related activities. Additional information about IRP science, policies and procedures can be found in the NIH Office of Intramural Research sourcebook at .

Description of the Lasker Scholars Program

The Lasker Scholars program aims to support successful candidates in two phases. Applicants will respond to a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) associated with an initial period of support through a position in the Intramural Research Program. Selected scholars who successfully complete the initial phase will be able to remain within the IRP or apply for extramural grant funding in the second phase. The first phase will support scholars in the IRP for 5 years, with the possibility of an extension of this phase for an additional 2 years. Successful applicants for the Lasker Scholars Program will be appointed as independent tenure-track investigators within an NIH Institute or Center, a process that includes being hired as a full time employee at the NIH and completing the procedures required of new Federal government employees. The IRP will provide space, research expenses, full salary, and Federal employee benefits. Scholars will develop independent research activities over the course of their stay in the IRP, and will be formally reviewed by a panel of senior extramural investigators every 2-4 years to evaluate their research progress.

Upon successfully completing the initial IRP phase of the program, the Lasker Scholar will be eligible for two options in the second phase:

Option 1. Remain in the IRP with continued intramural funding and progression to tenured senior investigator status, if consistent with formal reviews and assessments. Retention in the IRP will be dependent on the development of a mutual agreement between the Scholar and the IRP. Tenure at the NIH requires evaluation and approval by the NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research.

Option 2. Scholars who successfully complete at least five years in the first phase of the program can compete for an extramural research grant in the second phase of the program as an independent researcher. This option will allow successful investigators to leave the IRP to continue their research at an extramural institution. The grant for the second phase of the Lasker Scholars Program is expected to provide direct costs of up to $500,000/year (plus applicable Facilities and Administration (F&A) costs) for up to 4 or 5 years at the extramural institution. Scholars who choose to leave the Lasker program before completing 5 years of research in the IRP will not be eligible for extramural funding under the Lasker program but will be eligible for other extramural NIH research grants as announced in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.

More details about the Lasker Scholars program will be provided in an FOA to be published in the NIH Guide within the next few weeks. Additional material also can be found on the Lasker Scholars Program website at


Eligible applicants include physicians and dentists (including MD, MD/PhD, DO, DDS, DMD, or equivalent clinical doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution) and must have a professional license to practice in the U.S. The program is intended for investigators at the early stages of their careers. At the time the application for the initial IRP phase is submitted, applicants must be no more than 6 years from completion of their core residency training. Applicants will generally have completed or be completing a post-residency clinical fellowship, and will have demonstrated sufficient patient-oriented research experience to qualify for a tenure-track level appointment. Applicants do not have to be US citizens or permanent residents, although selected Scholars must qualify for and maintain appropriate visa/residency status throughout the program.

The candidate must obtain a full-time appointment at a U.S. academic institution in order to receive the extramural award in the second phase of the program.

Research Areas of Interest

As described in the forthcoming FOA, applications appropriate to the mission of any of the participating Institutes and Centers will be accepted. However, the IRP will give highest priority to those applications which propose research within the fields given below, listed by participating Institutes/Centers. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposed research with the Institute/Center contact person to determine the suitability of their research program for this initiative.

National Cancer Institute

Medical oncology, pediatric hematology-oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, pathology, neuro-oncology, urology and dermatology
Translational and clinical epidemiology/genetics of cancer

National Eye Institute

Disease processes in immunological and genetic ocular disorders

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Cardiovascular blood and pulmonary research: regenerative medicine, pediatric and developmental biology
Cardiovascular research: heart failure, electrophysiology, interventional therapeutics
Blood research: chronic myeloproliferative disorders, hemeostasis, benign hematology
Pulmonary research: pulmonary interstitial disease, pulmonary hypertension

National Human Genome Research Institute

Genomic medicine

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Development of medications for treatment of diseases/disorders of addiction

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases including TB, neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and hepatitis

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases- Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and skin diseases

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Metabolic diseases and neurogenetics; bone growth and skeletal dysplasia; endocrine oncology; regenerative medicine and stem cell biology; perinatal medicine; reproductive medicine; rehabilitative medicine

National Institute on Dental and Craniofacial Research

Oral and craniofacial function and dysfunction

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Development of medications for treatment of diseases/disorders of addiction

National Institute of Mental Health

Clinical neuroscience relevant to mental illness

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Stroke, movement disorders, neurogenetics, neuroimmunology, neurovirology

National Institute of Nursing Research

Molecular-genetic mechanisms that contribute to symptoms biology; discovery of novel mechanisms and development of investigational strategies for fatigue, chemotherapy-induced and diabetic peripheral neuropathy, chronic abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, traumatic brain injury, and sickle cell disease pain; integrative medicine

National Institutes of Health Clinical Center Traumatic brain injury, imaging sciences (including PET and novel ligand development), cellular therapies in transfusion medicine, use of mass spectroscopy in clinical chemistry and microbiological diagnosis


Direct questions about the program to:

Charles R. Dearolf, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Intramural Research
National Institutes of Health
Building 1, Room 152
Bethesda, MD 20892