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Program Snapshot

Part of the Common Fund's High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program, the Early Independence Award supports exceptional early career scientists with the intellect, scientific creativity, drive, and maturity to flourish independently by bypassing the traditional post-doctoral training period.


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Tracking Antibody Diversity

Gabriel Victora, a 2012 Early Independence awardee, used multicolor tags to track antibody diversity over time. Victora found a high initial rate of diversity which decreases at varying rates over time due to competition between the antibody clones with important implications for how to generate vaccines for highly variable pathogens like influenza and HIV.

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Arsenic Stress Causes Ribosome Reduction

John Hanna, a 2014 Early Independence awardee, found trivalent arsenic causes widespread cellular reorganization, protein degradation, and ribosome down-regulation. The reduction in ribosome abundance is a rapid, effective, and reversible response against the proteotoxic stresses of misfolded proteins caused by arsenic.

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Successful Vaccine Drops Meningitis A Deaths to Zero

Nicole Basta, a 2011 Early Independence awardee, worked to bring the meningitis A vaccine MenAfriVac to Africa. Since the vaccine’s introduction in 2010, cases of meningitis A have plummeted to zero in the 16 countries it was used, and the vaccine was found to act as an effective tetanus booster.

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Application Information

•  Within 12 months of terminal research degree
•  In non-independent position at time of application
•  Requires proposal & interview
•  Requires 3-5 Letters of Reference
•  Need support & commitment of host institution
•  Awards up to $250K per year for 5 years
•  More information
Application Status
FY 2016 Under Review
FY 2017 RFA-RM-16-006
Due September 12, 2016


Exploring the Health Effects of Fracking


Elaine Hill, a 2015 awardee, is featured in the NIH Director's Blog for her work studying potential effects of fracking on infant health. Preliminary findings show infants born close to a shale gas well weigh less than babies who live further away. Hill plans to continue studying possible health associations with fracking, particularly in child health.

PBS's NOVA Features Christine Denny in "Memory Hackers"


Christine Denny, a 2013 awardee, is featured in PBS's NOVA "Memory Hackers," Exit Disclaimer which aired on February 10, 2016 on PBS. The special examines the science of memory editing.

What Can Hibernation Tell Us About Human Health?


William Israelsen, a 2015 awardee, is featured in the NIH Director's Blog discussing his research on how hibernating animals alter their metabolism over the course of the year, and what those findings may reveal about human obesity, cancer, and other health conditions.

Program Booklet  •  Abstracts  •  Photos Exit Disclaimer  •  Videocasts for Day 1Day 2, and Day 3

Preventing Meningitis


Nicole Basta, a 2011 Early Independence awardee, was featured in The Economist Exit Disclaimer for her work on the successful meningitis A vaccine MenAfriVac. Cases of meningitis A have plummeted to zero in vaccinated countries, and the vaccine also acts as a tetanus booster.

Applying CRISPR Technology to Cancer Drug Resistance


Patrick Hsu, a 2015 awardee, is featured in the NIH Director's Blog for his proposed work to adapt CRISPR/Cas9 technology to RNA. Hsu aims to develop ways to use this new tool to examine the role of a certain type of RNA in cancer drug resistance.

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