NIH Grants Policy Statement
Revised October 2017. This document applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements for budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2017.
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12.1 General

This chapter includes general information about research career development awards (CDAs), also known as "K" awards. It supplements the general information found in IIA that applies to all NIH awards.

The objective of the NIH career development programs is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists are available in adequate numbers and in appropriate research areas to address the Nation's biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. Among NIH ICs, a variety of programs are available for scientists who require additional mentored or independent experience in a productive scientific environment in order to further develop their careers in independent biomedical, behavioral and clinical research.

For mentored programs, support is provided to cover protected time for supervised career development experiences with a goal of leading to research independence. Independent (non-mentored) programs foster the development of outstanding scientists and enable them to expand their potential to make significant contributions to a field of research.

12.1.1 Background

The research CDA program was established in 1961 to enable investigators who have demonstrated research potential to develop further their research careers. The program is authorized by sections 301, 402 and 405 of the PHS Act, 42 U.S.C. 241, 282 and 284. In general, CDAs provide up to five years of salary support and guarantee substantial protected time to engage in research and related activities. The award is available to persons who have demonstrated independent research accomplishments but need additional experience to establish or sustain an independent research program.