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Determining Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Status

Learn about ESI eligibility and how investigators complete their eRA Commons profile to ensure NIH systems have the information needed to calculate eligibility.

Determining Eligibility

  • Investigators must enter the date of their terminal research degree and/or end of post-graduate clinical training date in the Education section of their eRA Commons Personal Profile for ESI eligibility to be calculated. (Applicants are expected to provide true, accurate, and complete information and to produce documentation when requested.)
  • The eRA Commons system will check first for previous award history, and whether the investigator has competed for and received a substantial independent research award. See our list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered an ESI.
  • If the investigator has not competed for and received a substantial independent research award, then their ten-year window of ESI eligibility is calculated based on the date of the terminal research degree or the post-graduate clinical training end date, whichever is later.
  • ESI status and the End of Eligibility Date will be displayed in the eRA Commons profile.
  • If the eRA Commons Profile indicates the investigator is considered an ESI, that information will be automatically indicated on any R01 or R01-equivalent application submitted. (Please note that the designation does not appear on grant applications that are not considered R01 equivalents.)

screen shot of the edit button
On the Personal Profile Summary screen, scroll down to the Education section and click its Edit link. The Education section expands to show your information.

screen shot of a status page
Scroll down to the bottom of the Education section, and you see an area labeled Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Status. If you are still an Early Stage Investigator, you see the date when your ESI status ends.


  • Make sure to complete your PI profile well before submission of an R01 equivalent application! Remember to update your profile on a regular basis.
  • Use the formal data of the receipt of your degree, as indicated on the diploma and/or transcript.
  • List your terminal (highest) degree (getting a Master’s after your Ph.D. does not reset your ESI eligibility)
  • The clinical fellowship training in a medical specialty or subspecialty in the years that follow the internship/residency period are considered part of the clinical training period for the purposes of this policy


If an investigator would like to request that their ESI eligibility window be extended due to the experience of a significant life event that resulted in a lapse in their research or research training, they can request an extension. All requests for ESI eligibility extensions are reviewed by the NIH ESI Extension Committee. When extensions are granted, the investigator’s eRA Commons account is updated by NIH staff to reflect the extension dates.  Learn more about requesting an ESI Extension.

Multiple-PI Applications

  • A multiple PD/PI R01 or R01 equivalent grant application will be considered an ESI application only if all Principal Investigators listed are ESIs. 
  • If awarded, all multiple PD/PIs will no longer be considered ESIs.

Multi-project Applications

  • 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.

More Than One ESI Application Under Consideration

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.

Concerned ESI Status Calculation is Not Accurate?

If you believe that your ESI status is incorrectly reported in your eRA personal profile, please contact the eRA Service Desk.