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Career Transition Award

Purpose of the Award

  • To facilitate the transition of a basic or clinical investigator to a new independent research position.
  • The award has two phases: Phase I is during the period the applicant seeks a new independent position; Phase II occurs when the applicant begins the new independent position.
  • The award can be funded in both phases or in the second phase only. For those funded in Phase II only, support begins when a scientist is appointed to a new independent research position. NIH intramural scientists are only eligible for funding in Phase II.
  • Although some K22 programs provide funding only for the Phase II, there must be a clear institutional commitment during Phase I to facilitating a timely transition of the applicant to a stable independent research position.
  • The award is intended to facilitate the establishment of a record of independent research and/or the competitiveness of the investigator to obtain peer-reviewed research support.


  • New: NOT-OD-20-033
    • Program Plan attachment – candidates expected to address, as applicable, new research skills they plan to acquire in rigorous research design, experimental methods, quantitative approaches, and data analysis and interpretation.
    • Applicants for diversity-related career development programs expected to attach a Description of Candidate’s Contribution to Program Goals.


  • For applicants not currently working at the NIH, the awards are for post-doctoral fellows or staff scientists intending to transition to an independent position. For NIH intramural scientists, the awards are for post-doctoral fellows, tenure-track, or tenured scientists who intend to transition to positions outside the NIH.
  • Applicants must propose a research project that will be pursued during both phases of the award, including a mentoring plan (when applicable), and how the plan will help transition the applicant to independence.
  • Applicants must also describe their current institution’s environment and commitment to their goal of transitioning to a new independent position.’
  • There are no specific requirements for who should serve as an applicant’s referees, including a primary mentor or predoctoral advisor. There are many legitimate reasons why a postdoctoral grant applicant would choose not to include a letter of reference from their predoctoral thesis advisor. The absence of a letter from a predoctoral thesis advisor or another previous mentor should not affect the score.

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