There are no additional steps required by applicants beyond ensuring that their eRA Commons Personal Profile is accurate. NIH will identify the Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) who are eligible for special funding consideration.
An ESI, or Early Stage Investigator, is a Program Director / Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award. A list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered an ESI can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/policy/early-investigators/list-smaller-grants. ESIs are encouraged to enter the date of their terminal research degree or the end date of their post-graduate clinical training in their eRA Commons profile to ensure their correct identification.
New Investigator indicates that the applicant has not previously received substantial, independent funding from NIH. Unlike Early Stage Investigators, there is no requirement of time from terminal degree. Some ICs may fund non-ESI New Investigators according to their own programmatic and strategic interests.
Software within the eRA Commons will check first for previous award history, and whether the individual has competed for and received a substantial independent research award. The software will then calculate a ten year window of ESI status based on the date of the terminal research degree or the post-graduate clinical training end date entered in the investigator’s Profile. To ensure that NIH recognizes your ESI status, you must update your eRA Commons profile to reflect the date of completion of your terminal research degree or the end of your post-graduate clinical training.
ESI status is determined automatically by functionality built into eRA Commons. The status is based on the investigator’s record of receiving NIH grants and the completion date of his/her terminal research degree or the completion of post-graduate clinical training entered into the eRA Commons personal profile. If an extension to the ESI 10-year period is granted by the ESI Extensions Committee, the eRA Commons account is updated by NIH staff.
Degree and post-graduate clinical training completion dates are provided by the owner of the profile in eRA Commons. Applicants are expected to provide true, accurate, and complete information and to produce documentation when requested. (Making false statements to the federal government can lead to penalties (18 U.S.C. § 1001).
The first step in making sure that you are correctly designated is to go into your NIH Commons Profile and make sure the degree completion and/or the end of post-graduate clinical training date have been correctly entered. If the Profile screens indicate that you are an ESI, that information should be correctly assigned to any R01 or R01-equivalent application that you submit. Please note that the designation does not appear on grant applications that are not considered R01 equivalents. If you believe that your ESI status is incorrectly reported in your grant folder, please contact the NIH eRA Service Desk at your earliest convenience. If you believe that your ESI eligibility window needs to be extended because of a lapse in your research or research training, you can request an extension using the instructions available on the Early Stage Investigator Policies page.
The 10-year ESI period was designed to allow for a comparable and generous period time for research activities following the end of formal training. Postdoctorates with PhDs, typically pursue primarily research. Residency typically allows very limited opportunity for research. Post-graduate clinical training fellowships require substantive clinical activities and vary across specialties and subspecialties in terms of how much research they allow. The end of postgraduate clinical training is used to permit physician scientists/clinician investigators to retain ESI status as they pursue research activities toward independence.
The time of completing a mentored career development award, like a K01, K08 or K23, has no bearing on ESI status. If the career awardee is still within 10 years of completing his or her terminal research degree or post-graduate clinical training, and has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award, the ESI status will remain in effect.
The formal date of receipt of your Ph.D. is the date the degree was conferred, as indicated on your diploma and/or transcript. That date determines the beginning of your 10-year window as an Early Stage Investigator and is the date that should be entered into your eRA Commons Profile.
Yes. Applicants from any organization with an eRA institutional registration can complete the degree date and post-graduate clinical training date fields in their eRA Commons profile for classification as an ESI. PD/PIs should work through their institution’s Office of Sponsored Research or its equivalent to establish an eRA Commons account. If you are unable to identify your institution’s Signing Official, please contact the NIH eRA Service Desk.
Except for certain Roadmap programs and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), NIH Intramural scientists are not permitted to apply for extramural grants. Those considering transitioning to an extramural position should consult NIH policies for information about changing affiliation and preparing grant applications. (see https://oir.nih.gov/sourcebook/ethical-conduct). If you can successfully transition to an extramural institution and can apply for an NIH R01-equivalent research grant, you may be considered a New and/or Early Stage Investigator using standard criteria.
It depends. Once you enter the date of the second clinical training experience into your eRA Commons profile, NIH may use that new date as the start date of your ESI eligibility. If there is an extended period of time between the first and second clinical training experience, the ESI Extensions Committee may reach out for additional information clarifying the gap between the trainings.
If your highest degree is an M.S., this will be your terminal degree. On the other hand, if you received a master's degree in a different field after your Ph.D. or M.D., your Ph.D. or M.D. is your terminal degree date.
If an ESI is assigned a PD/PI role for the overall multi-project application, the individual will lose their ESI status when the award is made. If the ESI is the lead of a project or core, but not the PD/PI for the overall application, the individual will retain ESI status when the award is made.
It depends. If you competed successfully for a substantial NIH grant at any time in your career, you are no longer considered an ESI. If you became the PD/PI on the R01 without competition, however, you may still be an ESI, if you are within 10 years of completing your most recent terminal research degree or post-graduate clinical training.
Yes. ESI status is associated with individual investigators and the advantages offered are designed to accelerate the transition to independence. They apply to investigators in foreign settings as well as domestic settings. Applicants from foreign institutions may find the FAQs available at http://fic.nih.gov/Grants/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx useful.
Once you have entered the date of your terminal research degree and/or your end of post-graduate clinical training date in the Education section of your eRA Commons Personal Profile, your ESI status and the End of Eligibility Date will be displayed.
Yes. The definition of ESI states that the individual must not have "previously competed successfully" as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award. Therefore, the individual may still qualify if all other aspects of the ESI definition are met.
When NIH approves ESI extension requests or a PI updates their degree information in their eRA Commons personal profile after application submission, the ESI status for the application will be updated once the summary statement is released.
No. Only one substantial NIH independent research application can be awarded as an ESI. When an ESI-eligible application is pending and the PD/PI has been awarded another R01 or R01-equivalent application, the ESI status of the pending application will be updated after release of the summary statement to indicate the application is no longer ESI-eligible.
You may apply for an extension of the ESI period at any time after the eRA Commons has calculated and displayed your ESI status. PD/PIs are encouraged to update their degree and post-graduate clinical training information well in advance of the due date for any planned R01-equivalent application. Early establishment of ESI status will avoid ambiguity about the ESI classification of submitted applications. Extra steps are required and must be initiated by the PD/PI to reclassify an application after it has been received and assigned to a Scientific Review Group.
Terminal research degrees and post-graduate clinical training completion dates will be reported as month and year. Similarly, requests for extension should be made in whole months. Rounding up to the next whole month is permissible. For example, if the time away from research is 6 months and 3 weeks, a request of 7 months is appropriate.
Prepare a table as shown below. The key issues which should be included are the time period (for example January 2012 through March 2012), your employment responsibilities (percent effort negotiated for research/clinical work/teaching/administrative duties, etc.), the % time you spent performing research, and the reason for the hiatus as described in NOT-OD-09-034.
Time Period (MM/DD/YY-MM/DD/YY)
Percent Time Performing Research (during life event)
It is not necessary for an institutional official/signing official/ Authorized Organization Representative to submit the request. The individual submitting the request for ESI extension is responsible for providing true, accurate, and complete information; however, the ESI Extensions Committee may request documentation to clarify the extent of the request.
You will receive an email response at the email address designated in your eRA Commons account. In addition, the ESI indicator in your eRA Commons Account will change and the end date of your ESI status period will be modified to reflect the extension granted.
a. My wife and I had a daughter on May 2, 2014, and I spent 6 months away from research between the period of May 2014 and October 2014 caring for her. In total, I’m requesting that my ESI status be extended by six months. According to the eRA Commons the 10-year period of my ESI status will end on July 2022. I’m requesting that it be extended until January 2023.
b. My Ph.D. was granted in November 2011. In August of 2014, my postdoctoral appointment was interrupted and delayed by injuries sustained in a car accident. I was in the hospital and away from the lab for two months until the end of September and then worked only half time for 6 months between October 2014 and March 2015. I’m requesting a 5-month extension of my ESI period. That would extend my ESI period from November 2021 until April 2022.
In most cases it is expected that a decision will be made within a few weeks. If there are large numbers of requests for extensions or if there are unanswered questions after the first request, the process and the decision may take longer.
An ESI Extensions Committee composed of senior NIH extramural review and program staff evaluates the requests for extensions and makes decisions. The Division of Biomedical Research Workforce in the Office of Extramural Research is responsible for coordinating the committee.
Yes. Please direct any concerns you may have to the mailbox for ESI inquiries (email@example.com). If you feel it is necessary to discuss a special situation, please indicate that in your email, and someone will call you.
The one-year ESI extension will automatically apply to women giving birth who provide the date of childbirth to the extension committee. Men, those adopting children, as well as same-sex partners of individuals giving birth can apply for an ESI extension using the ESI Extension Request link found in the Education section of the PI's Personal Profile in eRA Commons. As stated in the Guide Notice, all other requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
In general, the NIH will consider requests to extend the ESI period for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, natural disasters, and active duty military service. Any such request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A chronic illness (mental or physical) could be a valid reason to request an ESI extension. You should prorate the request. For example, if the chronic illness led to working only 80% time over a 5-year period within the ESI eligible time frame, you should request a one year extension.
Yes. A request for an extension of the ESI period can be based on natural disasters and other catastrophic events that led to a lab shutdown, relocation, or the need to rebuild resources required for your research. This can include a hurricane, fire, flood, earthquake, or occurrences like an infection in an animal colony. In your extension request, please indicate the nature of the disaster and the actual time lost until you restarted your research or research training. As with other requested extensions, such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the Extension Committee may ask for additional supporting information.
No. If the time away from research is a career choice and is not related to medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, natural disasters, active duty military service or comparable factors it will not be considered as the basis for an extension request.
Generally, no. Requests for an extension of ESI eligibility related to a period of unemployment will not be granted unless the unemployment period is a direct result of medical concerns, disability, essential family care responsibilities, natural disasters, or comparable factors.
Once you enter the date of the post graduate clinical training into your eRA Commons profile, NIH will use that new date as the start date of your 10-year ESI eligibility. There is no need to apply for an extension.
Extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and detailed information is extremely helpful to appropriately evaluate the request. While you are not obligated to provide medical or personal details, the committee appreciates specific information whenever possible, such as the amount of time that your illness or family issue caused you to remain away from research and a summary table to report this is very helpful. If sufficient information is not provided, additional information will be sought. The committee appreciates the sensitivity of the documentation provided; all information is kept confidential.
The ESI Extension Committee will review justifications for extension requests on a case by case basis. Special or compelling circumstances (a child with disabilities or an illness for example) should be described in an ESI extension request and will be evaluated.
You do not need to request an extension. Once you add the end date of the post-graduate clinical training period to your eRA Commons profile, this is the date that NIH will use to calculate your 10-year ESI eligibility period. The components (clinical vs research) of the fellowship are not considered separately.
No. It is not appropriate to ask for an extension of a certain period of time so that you can submit your application by a certain date. However, it is recommended that ESI extension requests be submitted in a timely manner. As with all requests for extensions, you must explicitly describe your time away from research along with the reason for and the nature of the hiatus.
Generally, non-research, service payback time is not eligible for an extension. All requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the extension committee may request additional supporting information.
Generally, requests for non-research, payback time are not eligible for extensions. Note that time spent in research while fulfilling the payback obligation should not be included in the time requested.
Time spent fulfilling a payback obligation to an employer is generally not acceptable. Note that time spent in research while fulfilling the payback obligation should not be included in the time requested.
Generally, no. Investigators generally use such time to advance their research, such as performing experiments in colleagues’ labs to keep their research going, and/or writing publications or grant applications that are directly relevant to their research. If you feel there were extraordinary circumstances involved, please explain in your request.
No. The tenure clock is not related to ESI status. ESI status may be extended for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, and active duty military service. It is possible that these same circumstances may have prompted the tenure clock extension, but changes in the tenure clock will not be considered as a reason for extension of ESI status.
Postdoctoral training is not time away from research, and therefore is not considered a valid reason for an extension. In addition, didactic training that is expected in a standard postdoctoral position (such as attending lab meetings, presenting or attending conferences, or participating in the occasional university course) should not be considered grounds for an extension.
The NIH ESI Extension committee will consider requests for events that occur within the initial 10 years from receipt of terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later; however, the ESI Extension Committee will also consider requests for life events that occurred during the previously granted extension period that fall outside of the initial 10 year eligibility timeframe.
The ESI status of the PD/PI(s), on any R01 Equivalent application will be determined at the time of submission. If the PD/PI(s) on the application is/are classified as ESI on the date the application is successfully submitted to Grants.gov, the application will be flagged as ESI and will receive special consideration during the review and funding process. If the application status does not correctly reflect the ESI or NI status on the day of submission, contact ESINIH@od.nih.gov.
There is a 13-month period during which an investigator can submit the A1 resubmission application to retain ESI status. That is, if an original application is flagged as an ESI application and it is resubmitted as an amended application (A1) within 13 months after the submission date of the original application, it will retain its ESI status even if your eligibility period has expired. However, if the resubmission application (A1) is submitted more than 13 months after the submission date of the original application, the ESI status will be recalculated based on the submission date of the resubmitted application. In addition, if you have successfully competed for a substantial NIH research award at the time of submitting the A1 resubmission, then you cannot have ESI status.