NIH Director's Early Independence Award

Funding opportunities for outstanding early career scientists ready for independence

NIH Director's Early Independence Award

Part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, the award supports outstanding junior scientists with the intellect, scientific creativity, drive, and maturity bypass the traditional postdoctoral training period to launch independent research careers.

  • Must complete doctoral degree or clinical training between June 1, 2019 and September 30, 2021
  • Must be in non-independent research position at time of application
  • Single PI only
  • Preliminary data not required
  • $250,000 direct costs per year for up to 5 years
  • Minimum of 80% research effort in first 2 years
  • 3-5 Letters of Reference required
  • Only 2 applications allowed per institution

Application Information


  • Non-COVID-19-related research proposals should apply to funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-20-014.
  • COVID-19-related research proposals should apply to funding opportunity announcement RFA-RM-20-021.
  • Applications for both RFAs must be submitted by September 4, 2020.
  • Applications submitted to the two RFAs will be reviewed together at the same time using the same process.
  • New Application & Award Guidance is available with more information on how to apply and sample applications.
Funding Opportunities
FY 2021

Non-COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-014
Due September 4, 2020

COVID-19 Proposals: RFA-RM-20-021
Due September 4, 2020

FY 2020

Closed September 13, 2019

               NIH Director's New Innovator Award FAQs



Q&A Webinar (June 29, 2020)

NIH program and review staff discussed the funding opportunity and answered questions from prospective applicants in a pre-application interactive Q&A webinar. The video and slides of the webinar are now available. An audio described version of the webinar is forthcoming and will be posted when available. If you need assistance before the audio described version is posted, please contact us at

Click to download slides of webinar presentations


Join our Listserv or contact us at

This page last reviewed on September 4, 2020