Disclaimer: The information on this page is meant to provide general guidance. Policies and procedures outlined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement take precedence over any information provided on this page and should be referred to for complete and comprehensive guidance.
Every Early Independence awardee receives a site visit in the first year of their award by their program officer. Site visits are used to assess the progress of awardees in establishing an independent research program and to ensure they are receiving the support and resources from their institution as described in their application. Below are common questions regarding site visits.
What are site visits?
Every Early Independence awardee will meet with NIH staff to assess his/her progress and ensure s/he is receiving the institutional support and help needed to successfully transition to research independence.
When and where will the site visit occur?
Site visits are typically scheduled early in the second year of the Early Independence Award (in the fall or winter). The site visit may be done virtually or in-person at the awardee's institution. Whether or not a site visit happens virtually or in-person depends on NIH priorities.
How long is the site visit?
Site visits will last for one day during regular business hours.
Who will attend from the NIH?
Dr. Becky Miller is the Program Officer for all Early Independence Awards and attends and conducts all site visits. Additionally, each awardee has an "affiliated" Program Officer from the most scientifically relevant NIH Institute or Center. S/he is there to help advance the awardee's scientific program, offer guidance about transitioning to other sources of NIH support, provide insights into navigating NIH administrative channels, and is a great resource overall. The awardee's affiliated Program Officer is invited to attend the site visit as well, but attendance will depend on his/her availability.
What happens during the site visit?
NIH staff will gather information on lab infrastructure/physical space, progress on establishing an independent research program, integration into the institutional culture and faculty community, and institutional support. NIH staff will need to do the following activities to get a comprehensive view of the support received:
- Meet with the awardee (must be the first meeting of the day for 1.5 hours)
- View the facilities (5-15 minutes)
- Meet with lab personnel (30 minutes)
- Meet with faculty mentors (30 minutes)
- Meet with non-mentor faculty colleagues (30 minutes)
- Meet with the department/division chair (30 minutes)
- Meet with an institutional representative (30 minutes)
Who should be included in the site visit meetings?
NIH staff will want to meet with people involved in the awardee's research and mentorship to better understand the community and support for the awardee. NIH staff should meet with the following people during the site visit:
- Lab members and personnel
- Faculty mentors helping integrate the awardee into the community
- Non-mentoring faculty members (colleagues not involved in the awardee's research or mentorship) to provide insight into the department and its culture
- Department or division chair to learn more about the department or division and the support it has in place for the awardee
- Institutional representative (such as the dean of research) to learn more about the institution's strategy for supporting early career scientists and their research
The awardee will only be present at their designated meeting and to show the facilities. The awardee will not be present in any of the other meetings.
Who schedules the meetings at the institution and sets the site visit agenda?
It is the responsibility of the awardee to schedule the meetings and set the site visit agenda. The NIH program officer may request modifications to the agenda to ensure that programmatic needs of the site visit are met. We also ask the awardee, if possible, to schedule and organize a seminar at his/her institution for a presentation on the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program by Dr. Becky Miller. Broad dissemination of the seminar at the awardee's institution and other local institutions is appreciated.
What information is needed for the agenda?
The agenda should include the time, activity, meeting link (for virtual meetings), and the name, title, and department/organization of the people NIH staff will meet with. Include location and contact information if NIH staff will be traveling to and from in-person meetings unescorted. Please also remember to leave time for lunch. For in-person visits, a working lunch can be scheduled where NIH staff meet with the awardee and perhaps other High-Risk, High-Reward awardees or potential applicants. Or the time can be left open for NIH staff to find lunch on their own. An example site visit agenda is available for further guidance.
Does the awardee attend all the scheduled meetings during the site visit?
No, the awardee should not attend meetings outside their own scheduled meeting. NIH staff should meet with the other groups without the awardee present.
Should the awardee update the NIH on his/her research progress during their meeting?
Yes, NIH staff will want an update on the awardee's research progress. This is often done with a presentation.
When does the agenda need to be set by?
We ask for the agenda three weeks before the site visit. We understand if the agenda changes after submission; please send us the updated version as soon as possible.
For in-person visits, who makes travel and lodging arrangements for NIH staff?
NIH staff will make all their own travel and lodging arrangements and pay for their own meals and expenses.
When and how will site visit dates be scheduled?
Awardees will receive an email from NIH staff with more information and possible site visit dates in February or March after their award is made. The awardee should discuss suitable dates with those at their institution who will participate in the site visit meetings and select the most convenient date that is available. Awardees should respond quickly to requests to select the site visit date as they are given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
What happens if the awardee changes institutions before a site visit?
If an awardee changes or will be changing institutions before a site visit occurs, the site visit will be delayed until the awardee has had time to establish him/herself at the new institution.
More questions? Contact us at EarlyIndependence@od.nih.gov.
This page last reviewed on July 30, 2021