Request for Information (RFI) for the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award Program

Notice Number: NOT-RM-11-009

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

  • March 18, 2011 - See Notice NOT-RM-11-011 Notice of Response Date Extension for Request for Information on the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award Program.

Key Dates
Release Date: March 2, 2011

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Common Fund (Roadmap)


The Common Fund of the National Institutes of Health is seeking input on its Early Independence Award (EIA) program. The information gathered in response to this RFI may be used to make adjustments to the EIA program for the next Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). Participation is completely voluntary.


Recent trends have demonstrated an increase in the length of the traditional scientific training period with a concomitant increase in the time it takes for scientists to establish independent research careers. Although traditional post-doctoral training is likely most appropriate for the majority of new Ph.D.s and M.D.s, there is a pool of talented young scientists who have the intellect, scientific creativity, drive and maturity to flourish independently without the need for traditional post-doctoral training. Reducing the amount of time they spend in training would provide them the opportunity to start highly innovative research programs as early in their careers as possible.

In response, the NIH Common Fund has established the NIH Director's Early Independence Award to provide a mechanism for exceptional, early career scientists to omit traditional post-doctoral training, and move into temporary, independent academic positions at U.S. institutions directly upon completion of their graduate degrees (Ph.D, M.D. or equivalent).

More information on the program can be found at

Information Requested

This RFI invites input from members of the scientific community at academic and non-academic institutions and other interested parties. Host institution officials as well as potential or actual candidates to the EIA program are especially encouraged to respond.

This RFI is for planning purposes and should not be construed as a solicitation for applications or as an obligation on the part of the Government to provide support for any opportunities identified in response to it.

Submission Information

1. Responses will be accepted until March 18, 2011 (Extended to March 31, 2011 per NOT-RM-11-011) only through the following web site:
2. Brief and/or bulleted information is encouraged wherever applicable in order to minimize overall response length and aid in the data processing.


Responses to this RFI are voluntary and anonymous. Any identifiers (e.g. names, institutions, e-mail addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled. Anonymized results in an aggregate format will be reported for the purpose of program improvement. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response.

This Request for Information (RFI) is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH does not intend to award a grant or contract to pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the NIH’s use of such information. Respondents will not be notified of the NIH assessment of the information provided. No basis for claims against the NIH shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or the NIH’s use of such information as either part of our evaluation process or in developing specifications for any subsequent announcement.

On Line RFI Items for Response

For purpose of this RFI, the term candidate refers to the junior scientist that applies as the principal investigator with the host institution.

Respondents are not expected to address all items.

1. Please describe your role with the EIA program ( Examples of roles might include: officials of current or potential host institutions, current or potential candidates, etc.

2. Comment on the factors that may prevent institutions from applying to the EIA program.

3. Describe the institution’s activities to recruit exceptional candidates eligible to apply for support through this program. Include any challenges the institution faces in carrying out recruitment activities.

4. Describe the institution’s process to select exceptional candidates eligible to apply for support through this program, including any application materials required. Elaborate on the factors considered when selecting final candidates, especially when multiple departments and candidates express an interest. Include any challenges the institution faces in the process to select candidates for this program.

5. Describe the advantages and disadvantages for candidates staying and applying with their current institutions versus seeking for and applying with a new institution.

6. Describe the strategies and challenges for candidates seeking a host institution different from their current institution.

7. Describe how the EIA compares to similar programs (i.e., programs that provide the opportunity to skip the post doc ) offered by institutions other than the NIH. Please consider the eligibility requirements, recruitment activities, selection criteria, characteristics of the program, length of time, size and number of awards, etc.

8. Describe features of the EIA program that you feel should be maintained and why.

9. How could NIH improve the Early Independence Award application process (e.g., eligibility requirements, RFA instructions, letters of recommendations, etc.)?


Specific questions about this Notice may be directed to:

Ravi Basavappa, Ph.D.
Office of Strategic Coordination
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director, NIH
1 Center Drive, MSC 0189
Building 1, Room 203A
Bethesda, MD 20892-0189
Telephone: 301-594-8190