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NIH Policies Supporting Early Stage, and Early Established Investigators
This fiscal year (FY 2017) our goal is to fund approximately 200 more awards with ESIs than funded in FY16. In addition, our goal for FY 2017 is to achieve an overall opportunity for funding 200 more EEIs across the NIH than in FY2016.
There are no additional steps required by applicants beyond ensuring their eRA Commons Personal Profile information is accurate. NIH will identify the new, ESI, and EEI investigators who would be eligible for special funding consideration (note EEI designation will appear in eRA Commons profiles by January 2018).
Valid concerns were raised by the community about the potential unintended consequences of implementing the GSI policy as proposed. The new approach, the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, will support more early stage and early established investigators than would have been supported through the use of the GSI. As part of the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, we will continue to pursue multiple approaches to develop and test metrics that can be used to assess the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress.
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.
Yes. If you received your R01 in 2007, and at that time met the criteria of an ESI (within 10 years of your terminal research degree date or post-graduate clinical training then you could still qualify as an EEI for FY2017. Applicants are encouraged to update their eRA Commons personal profile for this purpose. This will be automatically determined by eRA systems (EEI status will not display until January 2018).
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 and EEI 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 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).
Institutions must be registered with the NIH eRA Commons before faculty and staff can take advantage of electronic submission and retrieval of grant information. Only an individual with signing authority for the institution in grant related matters can register an institution. This individual is designated the “Signing Official.”
For most institutions, Signing Officials are located in the institution’s Office of Sponsored Research or its equivalent. Researchers should work through their institution’s Office of Sponsored Research or its equivalent to establish their own eRA Commons account. If you are unable to identify a Signing Official for your institution, please contact the NIH eRA Service Desk.
Please note that an investigator will have a single Commons account and unique Commons ID for their entire career. Investigators will be affiliated with different institutions during their careers and may be affiliated with more than one institution at a given time.
Institutions function as partners to the NIH in their ability to identify and attract biomedical researchers of the highest caliber. We urge institutions to continue to look for ways to reduce the duration of graduate and postdoctoral training and to make it possible for investigators to move quickly to research independence, competing successfully for extramural research funding.
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 or EEI, that information should be correctly assigned to any R01 or R01-equivalent (R37, RF1, R35-MIRA, RL1, DP1, DP2, DP5, U01) 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/EEI status is incorrectly rendered in your grant folder, please contact the NIH eRA Service Desk at your earliest convenience. If you believe that your ESI eligibility window or EEI 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 and Early Established Investigator Policies page .
An early stage investigator, 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.
An early established investigator is a principal investigator designated in the application who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH research award as an ESI.
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. Residency typically allows very limited opportunity for research. Post-graduate clinical training fellowships vary across specialties and subspecialties in terms of how much research they allow, and so the end of postgraduate clinical training is used to permit physician scientists/clinician investigators 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.
The ending date of the final residency would be considered the start date of your 10 year ESI period. Be sure to update your eRA Commons Profile with this information to ensure NIH calculates your eligibility using the correct date.
No. Only terminal research degrees will be considered for the purpose of calculating ESI or ESI equivalent status, and the conferral date for the terminal research degree will mark the beginning of the ESI status period. For example, if your highest degree is an M.S., this will be your terminal degree. On the other hand, if you received a masters degree in a different field after your Ph.D., your Ph.D. is your terminal degree date.
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.
Yes, but the advantages of ESI status apply only to applicants for R01-equivalent grants. The advantages of Early Stage Investigator status do not apply to SBIR and STTR grants reserved for small businesses. Information on SBIR and STTR can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir.htm
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.
With the exception of 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 hhttps://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.
Once you have entered the date of your terminal research degree and/or your end of post-graduate clinical training date in your eRA Commons Personal Profile, your ESI status and the End of Eligibility Date will be displayed. See screenshotThis link opens a new window or tab.
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.
If your application came in as an ESI application in 2017, then it will still be still treated like one. Additionally, if your original application was 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 you submit a different new application, then the new ESI definition applies and you will be not be considered an ESI since your terminal research degree was received in 2002.
The 10 year window starts from the date of receipt of the investigator’s first substantial independent research award. For purposes of this policy, the date of receipt is equivalent to the Federal Award Date identified on the investigators first substantial independent research Notice of Award.
Yes. The definition of EEI states that the individual must be “within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01 equivalent research award as an ESI”. Therefore, since you became the PI on the R01 without competition, you may retain your status as an ESI-equivalent under the EEI definition if all other aspects of the eligibility criteria are met.
A form for requesting an extension of ESI status is provided at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/esi_extension_add.htm. Submitting the completed form will generate an email to the NIH ESI Extensions Committee requesting an extension of the ESI status period. This form must be used to apply for an ESI extension. The policies and procedures for requesting an extension of the period of ESI status are detailed at NOT-OD-09-034. If an extension is granted a new ESI end date will appear in eRA Commons and you will be sent email notification of the change.
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 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.
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, but do not submit it with the initial request. You will be able to submit the table on an email subsequent to the initial request. The key issues which should be included are the time period (for example January 2012 through March 2012), the % time working, the % time away from research, and the reason for the hiatus as described in NOT-OD-09-034.
No, ESI status applies to an individual and requests for extensions are submitted by individuals. It is not necessary to send the request to an institutional official. The individual submitting the request for ESI extension is responsible for providing true, accurate, and complete information.
No. NIH will not request any specific documentation at the time of submitting a request for extension. It will be useful, however, to explicitly describe your time away from research in months and years along with the reason for and the nature of the hiatus. It is possible, that the NIH will request documentation to support your request to better establish a reasonable extension period.
120 months. Although most extension requests are for periods less than 24 months, one can request an extension to account for lapses at any time during the ten year research or research training period (120 months) that occurred after the terminal research degree or the completion of post-graduate clinical training. Those lapses, as indicated in NOT-OD-09-034, must be related to family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, extended periods of additional didactic instruction, disability, illness, active duty military service, loan repayment, natural disasters or comparable disruptive factors. All extension requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the Extension Committee may ask for additional supporting information.
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. I was enrolled for twelve months in the clinical portion of my Cardiology Fellowship from July 2010 to July 2011. In addition, I had a child and spent 6 months away from research between the period of May 2012 and October 2012. In total, I’m requesting that my ESI status be extended 1 year and six months. According to the eRA Commons the ten year period of my ESI status will end on July 2020. I’m requesting that it be extended until January 2022.
b. My Ph.D. was granted in November 2009. In August of 2012, 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 2012 and March 2013. I’m requesting a 5 month extension of my ESI period. That would extend my ESI period from November 2019 until April 2020.
In the form for requesting an extension in the ESI period, we limit the reason for the request because time and experience with past requests has demonstrated that the rationale for a request can be explained clearly in 300 words. Please be brief but clear, and remember that the most important information is the time away from research for each reason in your extension request
An ESI Extensions Committee composed of senior NIH extramural review and program staff evaluates the requests for extensions and makes decisions. The Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center for Scientific Review is responsible for coordinating the committee.
In most cases it is expected that a decision will be made within two 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.
Yes. Please direct any concerns you may have to the mailbox for ESI inquiries (ESINIH@od.nih.gov). If you feel it is necessary to discuss a special situation, please indicate that in your email, and someone will call you.
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. Once the date of the terminal research degree and/or the date of residency completion have been entered in the eRA commons, the data system will calculate the end date of ESI status. If there has been a lapse in your research or research training during the ten year period after your terminal research degree or the end of post-graduate clinical training you can request an extension. In general, the NIH will consider requests to extend the ESI period for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, and active duty military service. Any such request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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. The policies and procedures for requesting an extension of the period of ESI status are detailed at NOT-OD-09-034.
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, 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.
While NIH generally receives requests for extensions due to parental leave of 3 to 6 months, we recognize that experiences differ. The ESI Extension Committee will consider longer and has approved extensions on a case by case basis that correspond to the time away from research.
If the remote location was a place where employment options were extremely limited, the ESI extension committee will consider your request. All requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the extension committee may request additional supporting information.
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.
The ESI Extension Committee regards this situation as a personal life choice and generally does not approve an extension beyond a reasonable parental leave period. If there are special circumstances (a child with disabilities or an illness for example) this 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. 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 eligible for an extension. All requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the extension committee may request additional supporting information.
Time spent fulfilling a payback obligation to an employer is generally 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 are 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.
NIH generally considers extension requests only for periods of time away from research. If your certificate program involved a defined period of non-research activities that limited research time, then you may submit a request. Please include the details of the certificate program, including the course work, requirements including non-research activities, and duration. Also be sure to include details on the time away from research that occurred as a result of your participation in the certificate program.
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.
On a case by case basis, NIH will consider extending EEI status for periods of less than full-time effort due to reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, sabbatical leave consistent with the recipients institutional policies, and active duty military service.
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 NI or ESI 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 resubmission 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.