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A History of New and Early Stage Investigator Policies and Data


History of Commitment 

  • June, 1977 - New Investigator Research Awards (NIRA) -  NIRA awards (R23) had direct cost amounts up to $35,000 for up to three years.  These awards were used between 1977 and 1986.    (PDF - 396 KB)
  • August, 1986First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) Award  - FIRST Awards (R29) had a direct cost limit of $100,000 in any year and were limited to $350,000 direct costs over the five year award period.  FIRST awards were used between 1986 and 1997.  (PDF - 792 KB)
  • November, 1997 Elimination of NIH FIRST (R29) Award – Based on a report the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director eliminated the FIRST award and New Investigators were encouraged to apply for R01s asking for a level and period of support necessary for their project.  
  • December, 1997 Transition to a New NIH Policy on New Investigators – A transition period was described during which R29 applications were phased out and New Investigators were advised to submit R01 applications that were marked to indicate that the PD/PI was a New Investigator.  
  • November, 1998 – The NIH created a check box on the face page of the NIH grant application to identify R01 applications submitted by New Investigators.  
  • December, 2004 – The definition of New Investigator was modified to include anyone who has not previously competed successfully for an NIH grant similar to an R01.   Previously, it had been restricted to those who had not previously served as a principal investigator on an R01.  NIH establishes a website for New Investigators.  
  • November, 2005 – Launched a pilot study to shorten review cycle for New Investigator R01 applications to permit submission of an amended application by the next submission date.  The policy was fully implemented by August, 2007.   
  • January, 2006 – NIH launched the Pathway to Independence Award program (K99/R00) that includes a period of postdoctoral research support followed by up to three years of independent research support upon finding a suitable position.  
  • November, 2006 – NIH established the Multiple Principal Investigator policy to support team science projects.   An application in which all Multiple Principal Investigators are identified as New Investigator is treated as a New Investigator application.
  • December, 2006 – NIH articulated a policy that had been in place for several years that created a numerical target for the number of New Investigators based on the average number of New Investigators with awards over the last five years.  
  • February, 2007 – NIH announced a Request for Applications for the NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards (DP2) and a follow-on funding opportunity announcement was released in March, 2007.   Awards were restricted to New Investigators who are within 10 years of completing their terminal research degree or their medical residency. Awards were for 5 years and up to $300,000 direct costs per year.   
  • September, 2008 – NIH modified the New Investigator Policy to identify Early Stage Investigators (ESI) based on the eligibility criteria associated with the Director’s New Innovator Awards.     
  • October, 2008 – NIH clarified New and Early Stage Investigator policies and established comparable success rates for New and Established investigators on Type 1 (new) R01 Equivalent applications.   It also indicated that half of the New Investigator pool each year should be Early Stage Investigators.  Compliance was encouraged by developing and sending frequent status reports to the funding NIH institutes and centers during the course of each fiscal year.  This also ended the period of using a five-year rolling average of New Investigators as the New Investigator target for future years.    
  • November, 2008 - NIH fully implemented the Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Policy and created the ability to identify New Investigator and ESI using data in eRA Commons Profiles. 
  • December, 2008 – NIH established a way to extend the Early Stage Investigator period to accommodate illness, parental responsibilities, military service and other factors that might result in time away from research.  
  • August, 2009 – NIH encouraged New and Early Stage Investigators to keep their Commons Profiles up to date.  
  • October, 2010– NIH announced the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5) that allows highly promising candidates to launch an independent research career without a period of postdoctoral training.  
  • October, 2011 – NIH announced an update of receipt dates for New Investigator resubmissions.
  • August, 2017 - NIH published the Policy Supporting the Next Generation Researchers Initiative.