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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12.2 Types of Career Development Awards

12.2.1 General

NIH offers a wide variety of CDAs: mentored awards to individuals, including unique career transition programs; non-mentored awards to individuals (mid-career and senior stages), and institutional programs that provide mentored experiences for multiple individuals who are selected by the institution. Some CDAs are linked to other types of NIH awards. Applicants are encouraged to review the FOA for information about IC-specific utilization of the wide variety of CDAs. Specific questions may be directed to the appropriate NIH scientific/research staff or grants management staff named in the FOA.

Further information about specific NIH CDAs is found at the K Kiosk http://grants.nih.gov/training/careerdevelopmentawards.htm.

12.2.2 Individual Mentored Career Development Awards

Individual mentored CDAs (e.g. K01, K07 (developmental), K08, K22, K23, K25, K99/R00) provide support for a sustained period of "protected time" (generally three, four, or five years) for intensive research career development under the guidance of an experienced mentor or sponsor in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences. Through the sustained period of research career development and training provided by mentored CDAs, recipients are expected to gain the skills and experience necessary for independent and productive research careers. Mentored CDAs are not renewable, nor are they transferable from one individual to another. No-cost extensions in time are permitted; however, all terms and conditions, including appointment and minimum effort requirements, remain during the extension period.

Generally, mentored CDA programs are covered by NIH-wide Parent FOAs. In addition, some ICs may issue IC-specific FOAs for specialized programs. Specific program requirements for each mentored CDA program are found in the FOAs. Some programmatic information is provided below for programs with unique policies.

12.2.2.1 Mentor

Individual mentored CDA applications require the candidate to identify a mentor (sometimes referred to as a sponsor) with extensive and appropriate research experience. The candidate must name a primary mentor/sponsor, who, together with the candidate is responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of the program. The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in the proposed research area; have a track record of success in training independent investigators; and should have sufficient independent research support to cover any costs of the proposed research project in excess of the allowable costs of the CDA award. Candidates may have co-mentors/sponsors as appropriate to the goals of the program. Whenever possible and appropriate, women, individuals from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to be involved as mentors to serve as role models.

12.2.3 Career Transition Awards

In general, the career transition award programs (K22 and K99/R00) provides protected time through salary and research support to facilitate the transition of postdoctoral individuals or junior faculty in mentored positions to research independence.

12.2.3.1 K22

In general, the K22 program supports two phases of research: 1) a mentored phase (2 years); and, 2) an independent phase (up to 3 years), for a total of up to 5 years of combined support. Some programs, however, support only the newly-independent phase of an investigator's research career development. Applicants for K22 programs need not be affiliated with an applicant institution, e.g., NIH intramural scientists. Planning, direction, and execution of the proposed K22 award are the responsibility of the candidate. Only a few ICs support K22 programs and each has specific eligibility criteria and award provisions. There is no parent FOA.

When the applicant is an intramural scientist, NIH issues a provisional award letter and the actual NoA is issued after identifying a suitable position at an extramural research institution. The position may include continuation of a postdoctoral segment.

12.2.3.2 Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

The objective of the Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) is to assist postdoctoral investigators in transitioning to a stable independent research position with independent research funding. The K99/R00 program offers a two-phase award, generally providing up to a total of 5 years of support. Phase I (K99) provides support for up to 2 years of intensive, mentored research career development; Phase II (R00) provides support for up to 3 years of independent research, contingent on securing an independent research position. Phase II is also contingent upon an administrative review and approval by the awarding IC of a transition application.

12.2.3.2.1 Eligibility

The K99/R00 program has several unique eligibility criteria that are not generally applicable to other CDA programs.

12.2.3.2.2 K99 Phase

Generally the K99 phase is for 2 years; however, award recipients may transition earlier than 2 years when the recipient has been offered an acceptable position. It is expected that K99 awardees will receive at least 12 months of career development support from the award before transitioning to the R00 phase. If an applicant achieves independence prior to initiating the K99 phase, neither the K99 nor the R00 phase will be awarded. Recipients are advised to contact the awarding IC if early transition is being considered. In all cases, early transition is considered a prior approval request and therefore subject to the approval of the NIH in accordance with Requests for Prior Approval.

Since the K99 and R00 phases are awarded independently, a no-cost extension may be allowed should additional time be needed to complete the goals of the K99 phase. However, no-cost extensions for K99 awards are not automatic and require prior approval by the NIH. All terms and conditions of the K99/R00 award (including minimum effort requirements) remain in effect when the grant is in a no-cost extension. In requesting a no-cost extension, K99 awardees wishing to continue to seek a tenure-track or equivalent position should submit a plan for continued career development and a timely transition to an independent position. If an application for the R00 Phase with a suitable position is not submitted within the one-year period of the no-cost extension, the R00 will not be awarded. Those not continuing to seek to transition to the R00 will be permitted to extend without additional funds, in order to permit an orderly phase-out of the project.

Carryover of Funds: Carryover from the K99 phase to the R00 phase may be allowed provided the K99 phase was funded by extramural support. The K99 recipient should consult with the awarding IC as to its practices regarding carryover.

12.2.3.2.3 Transition to the R00 Phase

The K99 award recipient is required to secure a tenure track, full-time assistant professor position or equivalent in order to transition to the R00 independent phase. Transition to the R00 phase is not guaranteed. The transition application for the R00 phase is administratively reviewed by NIH staff and is not peer reviewed by a study section. There should not be any delay between the K99 phase and the R00 phase. R00 award recipients will be expected to compete successfully for independent R01 support from the NIH during the R00 phase of the award.

Additional information on the K99/R00 and the FOA are found on the New Investigators Program web page under Pathway to Independence Award: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/#indaward.

12.2.4 Individual Non-mentored (Independent) Career Development Awards

Independent (non-mentored) CDAs (e.g. K02, K05, K07 leadership, K24) provide protected time for scientists who can demonstrate the need for a period of intensive research focus as a means of enhancing their research careers. Independent CDAs are intended to foster the development of outstanding scientists and to enable them to expand their potential to make significant contributions to their field of research. Some Independent CDAs also require the candidates to serve as research mentors for junior researchers.

Candidates for independent CDAs must have a doctoral degree and independent, peer-reviewed support at the time the award is made. Some of the participating NIH ICs require candidates to have an NIH research grant from their IC at the time of application. Other NIH ICs will accept candidates with peer-reviewed, independent research support from other sources.

Planning, direction, and execution of the proposed career development program and research project are the responsibility of the applicant and sponsoring institution. Independent CDAs are not transferable from one PD/PI to another. Non-mentored awards are sometimes renewable.

12.2.5 Institutional Scientist Development Programs

The institutional mentored research scientist development program (K12 and KL2) provides support to an institution for the development of independent basic or clinical scientists. The goal is to enhance research career development for individuals (known as 'scholars') selected by the institution who are training for careers in specified research areas. A specified number of scholar positions are awarded in a K12. The K12 is solicited only by IC-specific FOAs. Although the K12 is subject to NIH Standard Terms of Award, the carryover of unobligated balances from one budget period to the next generally requires prior written approval. K12 awards are generally not transferable to another institution. When institutional mentored research development programs are incorporated as part of a Clinical and Translational Science Award Consortium the KL2 activity code is used.

The Clinical Research Curriculum Award (K30) is awarded to an institution to stimulate the inclusion of high-quality, multidisciplinary, didactic training as part of the career development of clinical investigators. It supports the development and/or improvement of core courses designed as in-depth instruction in the fundamental skills, methodologies, and theories necessary for the well-trained, independent, clinical researcher.