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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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Genetic Diversity Protects Against Disease

Joseph Bondy-Denomy, a 2015 Early Independence awardee, found bacterial host diversity can stop the spread of viruses by increasing the immunity level of the entire population.

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Hunting for RNA Binding Sites

Mitchell Guttman, a 2012 Early Independence awardee, enhanced a method for identifying binding sites of RNA-binding proteins by UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (termed eCLIP) that will save on sequencing costs and improve reproducibility.

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Host-Bacteria Interaction Benefits Both

Gregory Sonnenberg, 2012 Early Independence awardee, revealed a unique host-bacteria interaction where selective subsets of commensal bacteria interact with host dendritic cells to facilitate tissue-specific responses that are mutually beneficial for the host and the microbe.

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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


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.

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,"  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   •  Videocasts for Day 1Day 2, and Day 3

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