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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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Celebrity Endorsement of Unhealthy Food and Drinks

Marie Bragg, a 2015 Early Independence awardee, found music celebrities popular among adolescents tend to endorse unhealthy food and beverages. With the rise of obesity, celebrity endorsement of unhealthy foods can send the wrong message to youth.

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Hospitals and Opioid Prescriptions

Anupam Jena, a 2013 Early Independence awardee, found new opioid use following hospitalization is common with 42.5 percent of patients filling additional prescriptions within 90 days. With the rise in drug overdoses, improvement in opioid prescription practices is urgently needed.

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Physician Pay Gap Differences Based on Race and Sex

Anupam Jena, a 2013 Early Independence awardee, found white male physicians earn substantially more than black male physicians, while white and black female physicians have similar incomes to one another, but earn significantly less than male physicians.

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Application Information

Hand filling out form •  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 2017 RFA-RM-16-006

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Congratulations to the 2016 NIH Director's Early Independence Awardees! (pictures)
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Dylan Gee

Helping More Kids Beat Anxiety Disorders


Dylan Gee, a 2015 awardee, is featured in the NIH Director's Blog for her work studying anxiety in the developing brain of children and adolescents, providing a firmer foundation for future anxiety treatment in children.

Dmitry Lyumkis

Breaking Size Barriers in Cryo-Electron Microscopy


Dmitry Lyumkis, a 2015 awardee, is featured in the NIH Director's Blog for his efforts on developing new methods in single-particle cryo-electron microscopy that can model atomic structures of proteins below 100kDa. Improvements to this promising technique has major implications for drug discovery and development.

Elaine Hill

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.

Christine Denny

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


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

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