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Early Independence Award Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. What is the NIH Director's Early Independence Award?
  2. What distinguishes the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award from traditional NIH programs?
  3. How does the Early Independence Award differ from other awards in the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program?
  4. How many awards will be made?
  5. Are women and members of underrepresented minority groups encouraged to apply?
  6. If I receive an Early Independence Award, will I still be considered an "early stage investigator" when I apply for my first R01 grant?
  7. Will another funding opportunity be available for the Early Independence Award next year?
  8. Can someone at NIH review my idea and let me know if it is a good fit for the Early Independence Award?
  9. What is the competition timeline?

General Questions for Institutions

  1. How does an Institution select potential Early Independence Principal Directors/Principal Investigators?
  2. What is meant by "independent research position?"
  3. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an Institution?
  4. What is the expectation for Institutions in terms of institutional commitment to the Early Independence Investigators?
  5. Is it expected that an applicant have laboratory space?
  6. If our Institution signs up for the “matching portal,” will we be obligated to find a matching Principle Investigator and support their application?

Eligibility

  1. Who is eligible to apply for an Early Independence Award?
  2. How much time/effort must be devoted to the Early Independence Award project?
  3. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?
  4. May I apply from a foreign institution?
  5. What is meant by “non-independent” research position?
  6. Since completing my Ph.D., I was awarded a position of faculty at a university. Does my faculty position preclude me from this award?
  7. If I receive an independent research position after I submit my Early Independence Award application, will I still be eligible?
  8. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow. Am I eligible to apply?
  9. May I include Multiple Program Directors/Principle Investigators on my application?
  10. May I include collaborators and/or consultants on my Early Independence Award?
  11. Is the NIH Intramural program an eligible institution?
  12. What scientific areas are eligible to apply for the Early Independence Award?
  13. Will technology development be allowed or just hypothesis-driven research?
  14. I am working with a collaborator in another country. Would I be able to continue to spend some time conducting research there?
  15. I am conducting research in another country. Would I be able to continue this research under an Early Independence Award?
  16. I am not yet at the institution that would be hosting me as an Early Independence Awardee. Should I apply from my current institution or my new institution?
  17. How can I find an institution that is willing to host me?
  18. If I am not successful this year, may I reapply next year?
  19. If I change institutions, are awards transferrable?

Application & Submission

  1. What are the important dates for applications?
  2. Will late applications be accepted?
  3. I am serving in the NIH peer review process and/or in an NIH Advisory Group. Can I receive an extension on the submission deadline?
  4. Is a Letter of Intent (LOI) required to apply for this award?
  5. What must be done before I submit an application to Grants.gov?
  6. Where can I find help registering for Grants.gov?
  7. Where can I find help in submitting my application to Grants.gov?
  8. Where can I find help in registering for the eRA Commons?
  9. Who is an appropriate "institution official"?
  10. There are several components in the electronic application form that are not specifically listed on the funding announcement, but are listed as requirements in SF424. Are these required as part of the application?
  11. What format should I use for the documents submitted with my application to Grants.gov (abstract, public health relevancy statement, facilities and other resources, essay, biographical sketch, current research support)?
  12. Is the Specific Aims document requested separate from the Research Strategy? Or does the Research Challenge portion of the Research Strategy replace the Specific Aims document?
  13. Should the Specific Aims page to be limited to the traditional specific aims of the research project (as you would have on a typical R01), or should they also include some summary of career development aims of the Early Independence Award candidate?
  14. In my essay, may I include citations (references) to key publications? If so, what is the appropriate format?
  15. May I include figures and illustrations in my essay?
  16. May I include movies, either as a link to a website or as a CD, with my application?
  17. I have obtained important new preliminary data that will strengthen the application I have already submitted. May I submit these data now?
  18. Is a data management plan part of the application?
  19. If my application is not funded, will I have an opportunity to revise and resubmit?
  20. What documents are needed for the application?

Budget

  1. How much can be requested?
  2. How do I put together a budget request?
  3. What format should my budget be in?
  4. Can the project be for less than five years? The proposed project can be completed in less time.
  5. May I request more or less than $250,000 in direct costs per year?
  6. Are indirect costs provided in the award?
  7. How should I account for indirect costs (facilities and administrative costs) in my application?
  8. Must the indirect costs related to subcontracts be included in the overall direct costs for the award?
  9. May a collaborator be funded on the award?

Letters of Reference

  1. Are letters of reference required?
  2. What is the difference between a letter of reference and a letter of support?
  3. In addition to my “letters of reference,” I would like to include “letters of support” that will describe the resources I will have outside of my institution to support my project/career. Is this allowed?
  4. From whom should I request letters of reference?
  5. May I ask more than five individuals to submit letters for my application?
  6. May a single letter of reference come from more than one individual?
  7. How do my referees submit their letters in support of my application?
  8. Will I be notified when letters are submitted?
  9. How can I check the status of my letters of reference?

Review & Selection

  1. How will awardees be selected?
  2. What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?
  3. Which review criteria will be emphasized?
  4. May I suggest specific reviewers for my application?
  5. What happens at the interview?
  6. Will I receive a summary statement or other comments?
  7. When will the awardees be announced?
  8. Can the decision of the panel of reviewers be appealed?

Award Administration

  1. What requirements must I fulfill during the term of the award?
  2. How will the award be administered?
  3. Do I need to submit an annual progress report?
  4. Should I mention NIH support in journal articles that pertain to research supported with my Early Independence Award?
  5. Should I notify the NIH of any note-worthy publications or media coverage of my research?
  6. Am I required to submit my journal manuscripts to PubMed Central?
  7. Are there annual meetings I am required to attend?
  8. Are these awards renewable?
  9. Is it possible to request a no-cost extension at the end of the grant period if there are unexpended funds?
  10. Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

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General Questions

  1. What is the NIH Director's Early Independence Award?

    The NIH Director's Early Independence Award, established in 2010, is part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program managed by the Common Fund. The Early Independence Award provides an opportunity for exceptional junior scientists to "skip the post-doc" and start an independent research career at a supportive institution directly following the completion of their graduate degree or clinical residency.
     

  2. What distinguishes the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award from traditional NIH programs?

    The NIH Director's Early Independence Award is different in several ways. It is designed to support a small group of unusually creative early junior scientists wishing to “skip the post-doc” and accelerate their entry into independent research careers. Applicants are required to have a commitment from a host institution. The process for evaluating applicants is distinct from the traditional NIH peer review process and emphasizes the qualities of the investigator and the environment provided by the host institution, while de-emphasizing preliminary data in the proposal.
     

  3. How does the Early Independence Award differ from other awards in the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program?
     

     

    Pioneer Award

    New Innovator Award

    Transformative Research Awards

    Early Independence Award

    Target group

    Individuals of exceptional creativity proposing highly innovative research

    Individual early stage investigators of exceptional creativity proposing research of uncommonly high potential impact

    Individuals or teams proposing transformative research with perhaps very large budgets

    Outstanding junior scientists wishing to “skip the post-doc” and immediately begin independent research

    Eligibility

    • Open to all career stages; early and middle career particularly encouraged to apply
    • Must currently be engaged in research
    • No U.S. citizenship or residency requirement
    • Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions not eligible
    • Receipt of most recent doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.V.M., Pharm.D., or equivalent) or completion of medical internship and residency no more than 10 years prior to application receipt date
    • Must be a “new investigator” (never been awarded an R01 or equivalent NIH grant)
    • No U.S. citizenship or residency requirement
    • Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions not eligible
      • Open to all career stages
      • Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions not eligible
      • Candidate must receive terminal research degree or complete medical residency within 12 months (before or after) of application submission date
      • Maximum of 2 applications per institution (or grant submitting entity)
      • Candidate must be in non-independent position at time of application

      Preliminary Data

      Not required; may be included

      Not required; may be included

      Not required; may be included

      Not as stringent as conventional R01

      Research strategy

      5-page essay includes response to questions about the challenge, potential impact, suitability for the Pioneer Award program, candidate's innovativeness, and how research qualifies as new research direction

      10-page essay addresses significance and potential impact; innovativeness of approaches and how risks and challenges will be addressed; and investigator qualifications for the award

      Recommended 10-page limit (12 pages max); respond to questions about the approach, appropriateness for the Transformative Research Award, and timeline

      12-page limit; in addition, host institution must provide details of commitment

      Reference letters

      3 letters required

      None accepted

      None accepted

      3 -5 letters required

      Effort

      Minimum of 51% (major portion) of research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award

      Minimum of 25% of research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award

      Effort should be commensurate with project needs and follow general guidelines for other NIH projects of similar size, complexity, and duration

      Minimum of 80% of research effort must be devoted to activities supported by the award

      Budget

      • No budget information submitted
      • Awards will be for up to $700,000 per year for five years, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs
      • No budget information submitted
      • Awards will be for $1,500,000 dispersed in the first year of the 5 year project period, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs
      • No limits up to the maximum funds available for the program as a whole
      • No prior approval required for large budgets (over $500,000 for direct costs per year)

      Up to $250,000 per year for up to five years, plus standard F&A (indirect) costs

      Multiple PIs

      Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application

      Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application

      More than one PD/PI allowed

      Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application

      Review format

      Two-phases, including interview of finalists

      Two-phases, “editorial board”

      Three-phases, “editorial board"

      Multi-phased, “editorial board,” interview of finalists

       

    • How many awards will be made?

      The NIH expects to make approximately 10 awards in FY 2017, depending on the quality of the applications and the availability of funds.
       

    • Are women and members of underrepresented minority groups encouraged to apply?

      Yes. The NIH strongly encourages women and members of groups that are underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research to apply.
       

    • If I receive an Early Independence Award, will I still be considered an "early stage investigator" when I apply for my first R01 grant?

      No. The Early Independence Award will count as your first substantial NIH grant, so you would be ineligible for early career stage investigator status after receiving this award.
       

    • Will another funding opportunity be available for the Early Independence Award next year?

      Yes, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we anticipate releasing a funding opportunity for the next fiscal year. To receive funding announcements and other Common Fund news, register for the Common Fund LISTSERV, or check out the Early Independence Award website.
       

    • Can someone at NIH review my idea and let me know if it is a good fit for the Early Independence Award?

      NIH staff cannot provide comments on specific ideas or plans for individual research grant applications. The external review will evaluate the merit of your application. However, questions about the scope and intent of the Early Independence Award should be directed to Dr. Ravi Basavappa in the NIH Office of the Director at 301-435-7204 or at EarlyIndependence@od.nih.gov. Email inquiries are strongly preferred. For applications involving clinical research, applicants should contact program staff at the appropriate NIH Institute or Center (IC) to assure compliance with IC-specific policies regarding clinical research.

    • What is the competition timeline?
       
      Funding Year 2017
      Open Date (Earliest Submission Date) August 12, 2016
      Letter of Intent Due Date August 12, 2016
      Application Due Date September 12, 2016
      Scientific Merit Review March 2017
      Council of Councils Review May 2017
      Award Notifications Late August 2017
      Earliest Start Date September 2017

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    General Questions for Institutions

    1. How does an Institution select potential Early Independence Principle Directors/Principal Investigators?

      Institutions may establish any selection process that best meets the needs of the Principal Director/Principal Investigator and the Institution, while ensuring the eligibility of the Principal Director/Principal Investigator as indicated in the RFA.
       

    2. What is meant by "independent research position?"

      For the purpose of this award, the Program Director/Principle Investigator will control the budget from the award, along with the space and resources necessary to conduct the funded research project. In addition, the position will confer eligibility to apply for grants and other types of research support. The application must include a written commitment to an independent research position that will be activated no later than the start date of the Early Independence Award. These positions should not involve significant teaching or administrative requirements imposed by the host institution.
       

    3. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an Institution?

      Institutions may only submit two applications for each submission date. An institution is defined as an organization that has a unique DUNS number. For example, if a university-affiliated school of medicine, school of dentistry, and hospital, all have one DUNS number, that institution, may submit up to two applications in total. However, if each entity of that Institution (school of medicine, dentistry, and hospital) has a separate and unique DUNS number, each entity can submit up to two applications per unique DUNS number for a total of six applications.
       

    4. What is the expectation for Institutions in terms of institutional commitment to the Early Independence Investigators?

      In addition to providing independent research space, support staff, access to necessary resources, supplies and equipment, the institution may provide full or partial salary support. The institution is also expected to integrate the Early Independence Investigator into the faculty environment of the host department or other unit of the Institution. Mentorship (equivalent to that provided to assistant professors) should be provided.
       

    5. Is it expected that an applicant have laboratory space?

      Yes, independent laboratory space should be included if appropriate for the type of research to be conducted. During the review process, significant attention is paid to the amount of resources provided by the institution; the amount of resources provided indicates an institution's level of commitment to the applicant. Overall, applications are reviewed based on the research proposal, the applicant, and the institutional commitment to the applicant.
       

    6. If our Institution signs up for the “matching portal,” will we be obligated to find a matching Principle Investigator and support their application?

      No. Because each institution (as defined by a unique DUNS number) may only submit up to two applications per funding announcement, potential Early Independence Award candidates must “matchup” with an institution that is willing to submit an application on their behalf and host them as an Early Independence Award recipient. The NIH has developed the matching portal web resource to facilitate the “matching” process between host institutions and potential Early Independence Award candidates. Participation is voluntary and does not obligate an institution or individual to “match” via the portal or submit an application to the funding announcement.
       

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    Eligibility

    1. Who is eligible to apply for an Early Independence Award?
       
      • On the date of application submission, individuals must be within 12 months before or after the receipt of their terminal research degree or completion of clinical residency. The date of receipt of the degree is the date the degree was conferred, as indicated on the transcript.
      • At the time of appointment to the grantee Institution, the Early Independence Principle Investigator must have received a Ph.D., M.D., D.O., D.C., D.D.S., D.V.M, O.D., D.P.M., Sc.D., Eng.D., Dr. P.H., D.N.Sc., N.D (Doctor of Naturopathy), Pharm.D., D.S.W., Psy.D., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution (it is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution to determine if a foreign doctoral degree is equivalent). Certification by an authorized official of the degree-granting institution that all degree requirements have been met and the graduation date as will appear on the transcript will be within one year of the application submission date is also acceptable.
      • Candidates must be in a non-independent research position at the time of application submission.
      • Applicants must not have served as a post-doctoral fellow following a previous doctoral degree for more than one year.
    2. How much time/effort must be devoted to the Early Independence Award project?

      Awardees are expected to commit a large fraction of time/effort to activities supported by the Early Independence Award. At least 9.6 person-months (80% effort) is required for the first 2 years. In the final 3 years, effort may be reduced toward the Early Independence Award, but the total effort towards independent research must still be at least 9.6 person-months (80% effort).
       

    3. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

      No. There are no citizenship or residency requirements. Foreign scientists are eligible to apply if they are applying through a U.S. institution.
       

    4. May I apply from a foreign institution?

      No. You may apply only if you are at an institution in the United States or its territories. For the types of eligible domestic institutions, please see the RFA.
       

    5. What is meant by “non-independent” research position?

      Non-independent research positions have all the following characteristics:

      • The candidate’s current research agenda is set through concurrence with mentors.
      • The candidate’s research is funded primarily through support to other investigators (mentored fellowships such as NIH F31/32 Fellowships or NSF Graduate Research Fellowships do not preclude eligibility).
      • The candidate does not have any space assigned directly by the institution for the conduct of his/her research.
      • The candidate, according to institutional policy, cannot apply for an NIH R01 grant without special waiver or exemption from the institution.
    6. Since completing my Ph.D., I was awarded a position of faculty at a university. Does my faculty position preclude me from this award?

      Yes. All candidates must be in a non-independent research position at the time of application submission.
       

    7. If I receive an independent research position after I submit my Early Independence Award application, will I still be eligible?

      Yes. Candidates must be non-independent at time of application submission but may become functionally independent prior to time of award and still retain eligibility.
       

    8. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow. Am I eligible to apply?

      Only if you are within twelve months of receipt of your terminal doctoral degree or clinical residency at the date of application submission and meet the other eligibility requirements. The date of degree receipt is the date indicated on your official transcript.
       

    9. May I include Multiple Program Directors/Principle Investigators on my application?

      No. You may not have Multiple Program Directors/Principle Investigators on your application. The candidate should be the sole Principle Director/Principle Investigator on an Early Independence Award project.
       

    10. May I include collaborators and/or consultants on my Early Independence Award?

      Yes, you may include collaborators and/or consultants on your project. However, they may not be listed as Senior/Key Personnel nor may their Biographical Sketches be included. They may provide Letters of Support.
       

    11. Is the NIH Intramural program an eligible institution?

      Yes. Please see special application instructions under Section IV.7. "Applications Involving the NIH Intramural Research Program” of the Funding Opportunity Announcement. Each NIH Institute or Center with an Intramural Research Program may submit up to two applications.
       

    12. What scientific areas are eligible to apply for the Early Independence Award?

      The NIH encourages applications from scientists from all disciplines, including the biological, behavioral, clinical, social, physical, chemical, computational, engineering, and mathematical sciences, who provide evidence of interest in exploring topics of relevance to the NIH mission.
       

    13. Will technology development be allowed or just hypothesis-driven research?

      Applications proposing hypothesis-driven research and those proposing the development of new tools and technologies are both encouraged. The focus is on impact and innovation.
       

    14. I am working with a collaborator in another country. Would I be able to continue to spend some time conducting research there?

      The Principle Director/Principle Investigator of an Early Independence Award must be employed by a U.S. institution, and the research must be conducted at that institution. However, there may be circumstances, such as studies involving a foreign population or a collaborative research project, in which the Principle Investigator of an Early Independence must conduct part of the research outside the United States. This research is allowable. However, the length of any single foreign research stay should not exceed the time allowable under NIH Grants Policy for a Principle Investigator to be away from his/her laboratory without appointing a temporary Principle Investigator (i.e., three months). Due to the special nature of the Early Independence, appointment of a temporary Principle Investigator is not allowable.
       

    15. I am conducting research in another country. Would I be able to continue this research under an Early Independence Award?

      The Principle Director/Principle Investigator of an Early Independence Award must be employed by a U.S. institution and the research must be conducted at that institution. However, there may be circumstances, such as epidemiologic studies in other countries, in which the Principle Director/Principle Investigator of an Early Independence Award must conduct part of the research outside the United States. This research is allowable. However, the length of any single foreign research stay should not exceed the time allowable under NIH Grants Policy for a Principle Investigator to be away from his/her laboratory without appointing a temporary Principle Investigator (i.e., three months). Due to the special nature of the Early Independence Award, appointment of a temporary Principle Director/Principle Investigator is not allowable.
       

    16. I am not yet at the institution that would be hosting me as an Early Independence Awardee. Should I apply from my current institution or my new institution?

      Since applications are submitted by an institution on behalf of the principal investigator, the application must be submitted by the institution where you will hold an independent position and conduct the proposed research. In most cases, applications will be submitted in advance of the actual appointment date. You should consult the sponsored research office at your host institution about this.
       

    17. How can I find an institution that is willing to host me?

      Prospective candidates may approach an institution to request that the institution consider hosting them as an Early Independence Awardee. Alternatively, institution officials may actively recruit individuals that they would like to host. To facilitate the “matching” of prospective candidates with potential host institutions, the NIH Common Fund has established a web resource called the Matching Portal in which host institutions can indicate their interest in hosting EIA Awardees and provide pertinent information such as contact information, details of supporting documents to be submitted, and deadlines for submission.
       

    18. If I am not successful this year, may I reapply next year?

      Yes, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements and the host institution is willing to submit the application on your behalf. Substantial changes to the proposed research plan would be expected. All applications will be considered new applications.
       

    19. If I change institutions, are awards transferrable?

      Awards are transferrable but are done so at the discretion of the institution and the NIH.
       

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    Application & Submission

    1. What are the important dates for applications?

      Applications may be submitted to Grants.gov beginning August 12, 2016, and must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time of the investigator's institution/organization on September 12, 2016.
       

    2. Will late applications be accepted?

      Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.
       

    3. I am serving in the NIH peer review process and/or in an NIH Advisory Group. Can I receive an extension on the submission deadline?

      No extensions will be given, and late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.
       

    4. Is a Letter of Intent (LOI) required to apply for this award?

      A letter of intent is requested but not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application. The information it contains allows NIH staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.
       

    5. What must be done before I submit an application to Grants.gov?

      It is important that you immediately check with your sponsored research office to determine whether your institution is registered with Grants.gov. Please note that the registration process could take up to six weeks. The institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is responsible for completing the registration process. If your institution is not already registered, it must first register with the System for Award Management (SAM) and then with Grants.gov. Both the institution and the investigator must also complete a one-time registration in the NIH eRA Commons in order to submit applications to NIH. Institutional officials are responsible for registering investigators in the eRA Commons. You should work with your AOR (also known as Signing Official in the eRA Commons) to determine your own institution’s process for registration.
       

    6. Where can I find help registering for Grants.gov?

      For help with the Grants.gov registration process, contact Grants.gov customer support at 1-800-518-4726 (Toll Free) or at support@grants.gov.
       

    7. Where can I find help in submitting my application to Grants.gov?

      For help with the technical aspects of submitting to Grants.gov, check the resources available at Grants.gov. If you need assistance, contract Grants.gov customer support at 1-800-518-4726 (Toll Free) or at support@grants.gov.
       

    8. Where can I find help in registering for the eRA Commons?

      Step-by-step directions for registering with eRA Commons are available. For questions regarding the Commons registration process, contact the NIH eRA Commons service desk at 1-866-504-9552 (Toll Free) or 301-451-5939 from Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).
       

    9. Who is an appropriate “institution official?"

      An “applicant institution official” must be an individual with the authority to represent the institution and guarantee that the institution will be able to provide the resources stated in the application if the Early Independence Award is awarded. In many institutions, this person might be the department chair, but in others it might be the vice-chair or dean.
       

    10. There are several components in the electronic application form that are not specifically listed on the funding announcement, but are listed as requirements in SF424. Are these required as part of the application?

      The requirements for SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (version D) should be followed for the Early Independence Award DP5 mechanism, including Abstract, Narrative, and Specific Aims sections. The Funding Opportunity Announcement describes deviations from the standard application.
       

    11. What format should I use for the documents submitted with my application to Grants.gov (abstract, public health relevancy statement, facilities and other resources, essay, biographical sketch, current research support)?

      All documents must be in PDF format and cannot exceed page limits (if documents exceed page limits, the application will be considered non-responsive and will not be evaluated). Specific formatting instructions for each document are in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (version D).
       

    12. Is the Specific Aims document requested separate from the Research Strategy? Or does the Research Challenge portion of the Research Strategy replace the Specific Aims document?

      The Specific Aims page is a document that is separate from the Research Strategy document and is attached to the application separately.
       

    13. Should the Specific Aims page to be limited to the traditional specific aims of the research project (as you would have on a typical R01), or should they also include some summary of career development aims of the Early Independence Award candidate?

      The Specific Aims page should relate to the research project similar to a typical R01. Career development and other issues related to the application should be addressed in the Research Strategy section as stated in the funding opportunity.
       

    14. In my essay, may I include citations (references) to key publications? If so, what is the appropriate format?

      Yes. You may include citations in the Research Strategy as long as they fit within the 12-page limit. The citations may be in any format. A bibliography is allowed in the Bibliography & References Cited section on the Other Project Information form.
       

    15. May I include figures and illustrations in my essay?

      Yes, you may include figures and illustrations in the essay as long as they fit within the 12-page limit.
       

    16. May I include movies, either as a link to a website or as a CD, with my application?

      No. Applications must be self-contained within the specified page limitations. Internet website addresses (URLs) may not be used to provide information necessary to the review. However, applicants can list published articles that include movies/links to movies as citations in the essay. We cannot guarantee that reviewers will refer to citations, so any information critical to the evaluation of the research proposal should be included in the essay.
       

    17. I have obtained important new preliminary data that will strengthen the application I have already submitted. May I submit these data now?

      No. We cannot accept any additional information after an application has been submitted. Only the information contained in the original application will be reviewed.
       

    18. Is a data management plan part of the application?

      No. A data management plan is not required unless there are expenditures of $500,000 per year, and this grant is limited to $250,000 per year. Please note, individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans (Data Sharing Plan, Sharing Model Organisms, and Genome Wide Association Studies(GWAS)) as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (version D).
       

    19. If my application is not funded, will I have an opportunity to revise and resubmit?

      Resubmission applications (A1) are not allowed. You may submit substantially the same idea or a refinement of the idea as a new application in response to a subsequent Early Independence Award funding opportunity, as long as you continue to meet eligibility requirements. Or you may be able to incorporate some elements of your proposal into a conventional R01 or R21 application.
       

    20. What documents are needed for the application?

      All documents and instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (version D) must be followed along with additional instructions listed in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, which supersede SF424 (R&R) Application Guide instructions.
       
      Note: All documents must be in PDF format and must comply with prescribed page limits. No additional documents should be uploaded to the application, and applications containing additional materials may not be reviewed.

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    Budget

    1. How much can be requested?

      You may request up to $250,000 per year in direct costs for 5 years. Applicable indirect (Facilities and Administrative (F&A)) costs will be determined at the time of award and will be in addition to the direct costs.
       

    2. How do I put together a budget request?

      Funds may be requested for personnel (including co-investigators, collaborators, and consultants), supplies, equipment, subcontracts, and other allowable costs. Follow all instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (version D) for completing the budget.
       

    3. What format should my budget be in?

      Submit a modular budget following the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (version D).
       

    4. Can the project be for less than five years? The proposed project can be completed in less time.

      Yes. You may request a project period of fewer than five years if your proposed project can be completed in less time. You should provide an explanation for the requested project period within the ten-page essay. The maximum allowable budget request is reduced proportionately from the maximum allowed for a five-year project period.
       

    5. May I request more or less than $250,000 in direct costs per year?

      Applicants may request up to $250,000 in direct costs per year for up to 5 years. You may request less than $250,000 per year but cannot request more than the allotted amount.
       

    6. Are indirect costs provided in the award?

      Yes. In addition to the direct costs, applicable facilities and administrative costs (indirect costs) will be allowed and will be determined at the time of award based on the institution’s negotiated rate.
       

    7. How should I account for indirect costs (facilities and administrative costs) in my application?

      Use the Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A) rate negotiated by your institution and apply this to the modified total direct cost base. Contact your sponsored program office or equivalent at your institution for further information.
       

    8. Must the indirect costs related to subcontracts be included in the overall direct costs for the award?

      Yes. The direct and indirect costs for any subcontracts must be included within the direct cost cap ($1.25 million over five years) for the budget from your institution.
       

    9. May a collaborator be funded on the award?

      Yes. Collaborators and consultants may be funded on the award, either directly or by a subcontract. Collaborators do no need to meet eligibility criteria for the Early Independence Award. However, collaborators and consultants may not be listed as Senior/Key Personnel nor may their Biographical Sketches be included. They may provide Letters of Support.

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    Letters of Reference

    1. Are letters of reference required?

      Yes, applicants are required to have three to five letters of reference submitted on their behalf.
       

    2. What is the difference between a letter of reference and a letter of support?

      Letters of reference are typically from scientists or other people qualified to evaluate the merit of the project proposal and the applicant’s qualifications to fulfill the proposed project. Letters of support are typically from outside individuals or organizations whose cooperation, assistance, or guidance is needed for the applicant to successfully complete the project. The letter of support affirms the person or entity’s commitment of promised assistance to the project.
       

    3. In addition to my “letters of reference,” I would like to include “letters of support” that will describe the resources I will have outside of my institution to support my project/career. Is this allowed?

      Yes. You may include letters of support in the "Letters of Support" field of the PHS 398 Research Plan under "Other Research Plan Sections."
       

    4. From whom should I request letters of reference?

      Referees should be able to address the candidate’s scientific, leadership, and management skills and how he/she is qualified to conduct successful independent research. It may not be best to choose referees based primarily on their official position, such as your departmental chair or institutional dean.
       

    5. May I ask more than five individuals to submit letters for my application?

      You should NOT request letters from more than five referees as only five letters will be accepted.
       

    6. May a single letter of reference come from more than one individual?

      No, each letter must be from only one referee.
       

    7. How do my referees submit their letters in support of my application?

      Letters of reference are submitted to the NIH eRA Commons. Letters must be submitted by the application due date no later than 5:00 p.m. (local time of the referee). See the Letters of Reference help page for more information.
       

    8. Will I be notified when letters are submitted?

      Applicants will receive an e-mail confirmation for each letter. The confirmation will contain the name of the referee and the date and time the letter was submitted. Applicants are responsible for contacting their referees to ensure that the letters are submitted prior to the deadline. Applications with fewer than three letters may be considered non-responsive and may not be reviewed.
       

    9. How can I check the status of my letters of reference?

      The applicant may track the status of reference letters submitted by his or her referees by logging into his or her eRA Commons account, selecting the Personal Profile tab, and clicking on the Reference Letters tab on the second header row.
       

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    Review & Selection

    1. How will awardees be selected?

      Applications that are complete and responsive will be peer reviewed by a multidisciplinary group of external reviewers. Those investigators whose submissions are judged to be the most outstanding will be invited to the NIH for interviews conducted by a panel of distinguished outside experts. The Council of Councils will conduct the final level of review. The Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director, NIH, will make the final funding decisions based the results of the initial peer review, the recommendations of the Council level of review, programmatic considerations, availability of funds, and consultations with IC Directors.
       

    2. What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?

      The review emphasizes the individual’s creativity, institutional support and commitment to developing research independence, the innovativeness of the research approach, and the potential of the project, if successful, to have a significant impact on an important biomedical or behavioral research problem.
       

    3. Which review criteria will be emphasized?

      All standard review criteria will be weighed in determining the final impact score. Particular emphasis will be given to the strengths and potential of the Early Independence Principle Investigator, as well as the suitability and commitment of the Institution to the Early Independence Principle Investigator.
       

    4. May I suggest specific reviewers for my application?

      No. You should not name specific reviewers for your application. Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by appropriate Scientific Review Groups convened by the Center for Scientific Review. While you should not suggest specific reviewers, you could suggest the scientific background that you feel would be appropriate to review your application. This information, if you chose to provide it, may be included in your cover letter.
       

    5. What happens at the interview?

      The peer review committee will select a subset of applicants it deems to be the most meritorious and invite these applicants for in-person interview in Bethesda, MD. The interviews will give the peer review committee an opportunity to carefully explore the potential of each candidate, the merit of the proposed research, and the commitment of the institution to the candidate's development as a productive and innovative researcher. The results of the interview will be factored into the overall impact score using the standard review criteria.
       

    6. Will I receive a summary statement or other comments?

      Yes, all applicants will receive summary statements with brief reviewer comments. Additionally, applicants selected for finalist interviews will receive overall impact/priority scores. No criterion scores will be provided to either finalists or non-finalists.
       

    7. When will the awardees be announced?

      Awardees will be notified by late August or early September. New awardees are asked to attend the High-Risk, High-Reward Research Symposium to be held in the winter.
       

    8. Can the decision of the panel of reviewers be appealed?

      No. There is no appeal process.
       

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    Award Administration

    1. What requirements must I fulfill during the term of the award?

      Although there are no stipulations on the research agenda, you will be required to submit a two- to five-page annual report of your activities during the year and to participate in an annual High-Risk, High-Reward Research Symposium in Bethesda, MD. You will also receive a site visit from the program officer late in your first year to assess your transition to independence and to ensure you are receiving adequate support. In addition, to help the NIH evaluate this program, you may be contacted periodically for at least five years and asked to report on your latest research efforts.
       

    2. How will the award be administered?

      Awards will be administered by an NIH Institute/Center best matching the proposal topic. However, Dr. Ravi Basavappa from the Office of the Director will also serve as a program officer to coordinate administration of all Early Independence Awards.
       

    3. Do I need to submit an annual progress report?

      As described in the Notice of Award posted in your NIH Commons account, a progress report is due annually on October 1.
       

    4. Should I mention NIH support in journal articles that pertain to research supported with my Early Independence Award?

      Yes, please be sure to identify yourself as an NIH Director’s Early Independence Award recipient in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters, and other communications related to your research funded by this program. Although citing NIH support is always important, it is even more so in the case of the Early Independence Award, which is a component of the NIH Common Fund. In journal articles, please cite the grant number as well as the name of the program. An example of how this might be worded is, "This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, DP5-OD######."
       

    5. Should I notify the NIH of any note-worthy publications or media coverage of my research?

      Yes, please notify us at EarlyIndependence@od.nih.gov of any significant publications or media coverage so we can highlight you and your research on our website.
       

    6. Am I required to submit my journal manuscripts to PubMed Central?

      As required by Federal legislation, the NIH Public Access Policy requires NIH funded scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central. Please visit the NIH Public Access site for additional information about the process of submitting your accepted publications.
       

    7. Are there annual meetings I am required to attend?

      Yes, as an awardee, you are required to attend the annual High-Risk, High-Reward Research Symposium held at the NIH Bethesda campus in Maryland in the winter.
       

    8. Are these awards renewable?

      No. These awards are intended to provide funds to initiate important new directions in research over a five year timeframe.
       

    9. Is it possible to request a no-cost extension at the end of the grant period if there are unexpended funds?

      Yes, you may request a no-cost extension for an Early Independence Award.
       

    10. Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

      Yes, the award may be transferred to another eligible institution according to the same policies and procedures used for traditional research grants. Awards may not be transferred to foreign institutions.
       

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