Early Stage and Early Established Investigator Policies

This page provides information on the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative policies announced in NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-17-101 that support early-stage investigators (ESIs) and Early Established Investigator (EEIs). The “New Investigator” status in the eRA Commons indicates that the investigator has not previously received substantial, independent funding from NIH. NIH Institutes and Centers may continue to fund New Investigators according to the funder’s programmatic and strategic interests.

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Policy Summary

Career Status Definition Special Considerations
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 here.   * ESI applications with meritorious scores will be prioritized for funding.
* The goal for FY 2017 will be to fund approximately 200 more ESI awards than in FY16. 
Early Established Investigator (EEI)  A Program Director / Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01 equivalent research award as an ESI.
* EEIs may be prioritized for funding of meritorious research applications if they are either:

1. losing or are at risk for losing all NIH research support if they are not funded by competing awards this year, OR

2. supported by only one active award.
 * The goal for FY 2017 is funding 200 more EEIs across the NIH than in FY2016.


Fostering the creative discoveries and innovative research that will protect and improve health requires NIH to take steps to promote the growth, stability, and diversity of the biomedical research workforce.  NIH and its stakeholder community have been concerned about the long-term growth and stability of the biomedical research enterprise for many years. Read our page on the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative for additional background.

Determination of Investigator Status

  • All Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PIs) must have an eRA Commons account at the time of application.
  • Prior to application submission, PD/PIs are encouraged to verify and/or 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 the correct identification.
    • NIH systems will automatically calculate the status of each investigator.
    • The status is shown in the investigator’s eRA Commons profile. (EEI status will be viewable in eRA Commons beginning January 2018).
    • Investigators should make sure their status is correctly marked in their profile. If your status is incorrect, please contact the NIH eRA Service Desk.

Extension of ESI or EEI Status

  • Some researchers may have lapses in their research or research training, or have experienced periods of less than full-time effort. NIH will consider requests to extend the ESI or EEI status period for reasons that can include: medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, and active duty military service, determined on a case by case basis at the sole discretion of NIH.

Special Programs

NIH has several special award programs for new investigators, including:

History of Related NIH Policies

NIH interest in the training and subsequent research support for establishing independent research careers is deep and longstanding. Read the detailed history of related NIH policies.

Related Data