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FAQs: Career Development Awards (K Series): Specific Award Information

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Does NICHD support the K01 program, and are there any institute-specific requirements?

K01 - Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (Parent K01)

The NICHD accepts K01 applications for only three specific research areas:

  • Medical Rehabilitation Research: Applicants for the K01 must have clinical training in a rehabilitation-related profession (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy, registered nurse, or Speech and Language pathologist), possess a doctoral level degree (e.g., Ph.D., D.Eng., D.Ed.), and be committed to a career as an independent investigator in medical rehabilitation.
  • Child Abuse and Neglect: Applicants should have experience in relevant disciplines and propose a mentored research program to enable application of novel or highly promising interdisciplinary approaches to the study of child abuse and neglect.
  • Population Research: Population research is defined as demographic, behavioral, and social scientific research on fertility, family and household structures, mortality and morbidity, migration, immigration, population and the environment, and population distribution and characteristics. The NICHD supports research that addresses the intersection of demographic processes and health, examines health from a population perspective, and/or integrates demographic or social scientific approaches to understanding health with behavioral or biomedical approaches. The K01 award in Population Research is intended to provide mentored training experiences for:
    • Investigators in demography or other areas of population research who require additional technical and scientific inquiry skills in order to launch independent research careers;
    • Investigators in demography or population research who seek research experience in new but complimentary disciplines (e.g., anthropology, geography, biological sciences, epidemiology, public health, medicine);
    • Investigators who conduct research in other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, geography, biological sciences, epidemiology, public health, medicine), and who propose new training in demography or population research.

      The K01 program in Population Research is generally limited to individuals at the assistant professor level who have not yet secured major research funding as defined in the program announcement (Section III.1. Eligible Individuals). However, recent associate professors are eligible if they are already engaged in population research and are seeking a mentored research experience in other disciplines, or if they are in other disciplines and are seeking research experience in population studies. For established investigators making a major change in research direction, prior R01 grant support is allowable.

All K01 applicants must justify the need for the proposed mentored training and explain how the training will facilitate their ability to conduct cutting edge research in rehabilitation medicine, child abuse & neglect, or population science.

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Does NICHD support the K02 program and are there any specific requirements?

K02 – Independent Scientist Award (Parent K02)

The NICHD offers K02 awards in areas relevant to normal and abnormal human development, including contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development, and childhood development through adolescence. The mission areas also include research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and rehabilitation medicine. More detailed information is available at Areas of Research Supported by NICHD.

The K02 program through the NICHD is primarily a salary award to provide at least 75% protected time for recently independent scientists to focus on their research careers. Eligibility for a K02 award is limited to those who have an active NICHD grant at the time of award. Applicants must be a named Project Director (PD)/Principal Investigator (PI) on an active R01 or equivalent grant or on a sub-project of a multi-component research project. PD/PIs on R03 or R21 grants are not eligible. Investigators who are well-established in their fields are considered ineligible.

In preparing the application, applicants must provide a strong justification for needing protected research time. Activities/plans for enhancing the research program and/or career development, such as new collaborations or new directions in research, should be documented and justified. The K02 Research Plan may comprise a new research trajectory or an expansion of one or more specific aims of an ongoing grant. The K02 research plan should not merely duplicate the aims of other funded projects. Any overlap in funding or effort will be negotiated with Grants Management. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NICHD Scientific/Research Contact prior to preparing an application.

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Can a K02 recipient devote effort and accept salary for clinical or research activities beyond the K effort requirement?

This award falls under the same supplementation rules as specified for mentored K awards (see general K policies above). NIH is considering a revision of this policy.

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Does NICHD support the K08 program, and are there any specific requirements?

K08 - Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (Parent K08)

The NICHD does sponsor the K08 mechanism. The Institute offers research career development awards in areas relevant to normal and abnormal human development, including contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development, and childhood development through adolescence. The mission areas also include research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and rehabilitation medicine. More detailed information is available at Areas of Research Supported by NICHD.

Specific NICHD requirements for the K08 program can be found in the "Table of IC-specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts," which is linked in the Program Announcement. The purpose of the K08 program is to provide support and "protected time" to for an intensive, supervised research career development experience in the fields of biomedical and behavioral research, including translational research. Eligibility is limited to those with a clinical doctoral degree. Clinically trained individuals who are conducting patient-oriented research should apply for the K23 award (see below).

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Does NICHD support the K23 program, and are there any specific requirements?

K23 – Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (Parent K23)

The NICHD does sponsor the K23 mechanism. NICHD offers research career development awards in areas relevant to normal and abnormal human development, including contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development, and childhood development through adolescence. The mission areas also include research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and rehabilitation medicine. More detailed information is available at Areas of Research Supported by NICHD.

Specific NICHD requirements for the K23 program can be found in the "Table of IC-specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts," which is linked in the program announcement. The purpose of the NIH Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) is to support the career development of investigators who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on patient-oriented research. Individuals with a clinical degree who are interested in biomedical research that is not patient-oriented should apply for the K08 award (see above).

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The K23 budget is very limited; how will I be able to finance the research project?

The K23 allows a maximum of $25,000 for research support and $75,000 plus fringe benefits for salary. The remainder of the costs for the research project must come from other sources, such as the mentor or the department or collaborators. The applicant should explain clearly what resources will be needed and the source of funds. Otherwise, reviewers will conclude that the project is not feasible. The mentor and any collaborators will list active support in the biosketch. They should also document their willingness to participate in their respective roles in the personal statement of the biosketch and in Item 7. Statements of Mentors and Collaborators (six-page limit). Those same documents and the institutional support letter should describe any commitments or agreements regarding money or other resources. If appropriate, some of the resources can be described under R & R Item 4.4.10. Other Project Information Component (Facilities and Other Resources). Finally, the applicant should pull all of that information together in the Research Strategy to explain how the project will be supported. Placing an overview under the Research Strategy will assure that information documented elsewhere isn't missed by reviewers.

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What are the NICHD-specific requirements for the mid-career award in patient-oriented research (K24)?

K24 – Mid-career Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (Parent K24)

The NICHD offers research career development awards in areas relevant to normal and abnormal human development, including contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development, and childhood development through adolescence. The mission areas also include research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and rehabilitation medicine. More detailed information is available at Areas of Research Supported by NICHD.

The NICHD encourages outstanding mentors, with national reputations in areas of research supported by the NICHD, to apply for a K24 award. Associate professors and full professors are eligible. The K24 allows a commitment of 25% to 50% effort. Applicants must describe their current commitments and justify the need for additional protected research time. They must also describe their qualifications to serve as a mentor in patient-oriented research and explain how the K24 award will enable mentoring activities that are above and beyond normal expectations for the applicant's position. The K24 award is intended to promote mentoring of patient-oriented research.

The award may not be used to support mentoring that is already associated with the Principal Investigator's (PI's) ongoing research projects or to support mentoring of clinical training. Applicants must be a named Project Director (PD)/PI on an active R01 or equivalent grant or on a sub-project of a multi-component research project. While we do not explicitly say that the grant must come from NICHD, the Institute is interested in supporting mid-career level individuals who are working in areas relevant to its mission. That would also include mentoring of individuals who are working in areas related to our mission or are training to do so. The Institute probably would accept an application if some of the PI's support or some of the individuals being mentored work in other research areas. But if the emphasis is too much in the direction of another Institute, that Institute would be the best home for the application. The research portion of the K24 award may include adding a new component to an already existing research project or it may be directed towards a new research area. The K24 research plan should not merely duplicate the aims of other funded projects. For more details, refer to the "Tables of IC-specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts" linked in the announcement.

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Does NICHD support the K25 program, and are there any specific requirements?

K25 - Mentored Quantitative Research Development Award (Parent K25)

The NICHD does sponsor the K25 mechanism. Specific requirements of the institute can be found in the "Table of IC-specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts," which is linked in the program announcement. The purpose of the K25 program is to provide support and "protected time" for a period of supervised study and research for productive professionals with quantitative (e.g., mathematics, statistics, economics, computer science, imaging science, informatics, physics, chemistry) and engineering backgrounds to integrate their expertise with NIH-relevant chemistry) and engineering backgrounds to integrate their expertise with NIH-relevant research.

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Are there any NICHD-specific requirements for the K99-R00 program?

K99/R00 - Pathway to Independence Awards (Parent K99/R00)

  • The NICHD offers research career development awards in areas relevant to normal and abnormal human development, including contraception, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, prenatal and postnatal development, and childhood development through adolescence. The mission areas also include research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and rehabilitation medicine. More detailed information is available at Areas of Research Supported by NICHD.
  • The K99/R00 program is designed for postdoctoral fellows (Ph.D.s, M.D.s, or other) whose formal research training is nearly complete, and who expect to find a tenure-track or equivalent faculty position within 2 years of receiving the award. Those whose career development would benefit from further research training should also consider the mentored Career Development Awards offered by NICHD (e.g., K01, K08, K23, and K25). Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to email or call the NICHD Scientific/Research Contact to help choose among these career development award mechanisms, to determine K99/R00 eligibility, and to assess relevance of the proposed project to the NICHD mission.
  • Awardees must spend at least 1 year on the K99 phase of the award.
  • For the K99 phase of the award, the NICHD provides salary of up to $75,000 plus fringe benefits per year, and up to $25,000 for research support costs per year (direct cost amounts). Requests up to these limits are allowed even if the total costs (direct costs plus 8% F & A costs) exceed $90,000 per year.

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I recently completed my doctorate. Am I eligible for the K99/R00 program?

The K99/R00 program is designed for those who are nearing completion of their postdoctoral training. The window of eligibility is listed as 0-5 years post-degree, but most applicants apply late in the third or fourth year of their postdoctoral period. They therefore have a stronger record of publications and technical experience than someone who just recently completed the Ph.D. degree. Reviewers of the application will be assessing whether you are likely to find a tenure track or equivalent faculty position within the 2-year time frame of the K99. If you don't find a tenure track or equivalent position, the NIH will not approve the transition to the R00 phase.

Standards for publications and other necessary experience vary by discipline. It is essential for you and your mentor to evaluate whether you have a strong record of accomplishments compared to other postdoctoral fellows in your field. If you are not yet competitive, i.e., "too junior," you will simply be wasting one of your opportunities to apply. Timing is critical with this program. If you decide you do not yet have enough experience for the K99, there are some alternatives you can consider. First, depending on your progress to date, you might simply wait a few submission cycles until you have more manuscripts published or in press. Second, you could apply instead for an F32 individual postdoctoral fellowship. Those awards are intended for postdoctoral fellows in their first few years of training. If an F32 application is successful, you could start the fellowship and apply for the K99 one-and-one-half year later. If the F32 isn't funded, you could modify the application and submit it as a K99. Either way, your K99 application would be stronger by having more postdoctoral time and possibly an F32 award on your biosketch.

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Are research assistant professors, instructors, or other temporary faculty eligible to apply for the K99/R00 program?

The goal of the K99/R00 program is to allow for 1 to 2 years of additional mentored training and to provide support for new faculty as they transition to independent investigator status. Individuals who already have independent research faculty or tenure-track appointments, or who have received independent grant funding as Principal Investigator are not eligible. However, many individuals in non-tenure track positions are still not independent and may be eligible. Eligibility criteria for different faculty appointments are listed in Section III.1. of the K99/R00 Program Announcement (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-11-197.html).

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What are the K99/R00 salary and research expense limits for the NICHD, and how are the budgets laid out in the application?

The K99 budget should specify the candidate's current institutional base salary, with minimum 75% effort. The Grants Management Branch will update the amounts at the time of award. The NICHD's maximum allowable limits are $75,000 for salary and $25,000 for research expenses. These are the amounts specified in the "Table of Institute-specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts." Fringe benefits should be added to whatever is requested for salary. It will be to the applicant's benefit to request the full $25,000 in research expenses. Depending on the candidate's actual salary level, these amounts combined are allowed to exceed the $90,000 guideline specified in the Program Announcement. Indirect costs are added at an 8% rate.

The two-phase K99/R00 is all a single application spanning 5 years of work. You treat the K99 phase as years 1 and 2, with (simplified) detailed budgets as required. The R00 phase should be requested as years 3, 4, and 5. The maximum total cost budget for the independent (R00) phase is $249,000 per year. This amount includes direct and indirect costs. Since the candidate is expected to move to another institution for the R00 phase, the salary, research expenses, and F & A amounts are really unknown. Budgets should be prepared for R00 years with hypothetical numbers. These R00 budgets will be requested again when the transition request is submitted by the R00 sponsoring institution.

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Should the Research Plans for the K99 and R00 be entirely separate, or should there be a continuous plan spanning 4 to 5 years?

The assumption of the K99/R00 program is that you will be completing your postdoctoral training during the K99 phase. The research plan for that phase can be a continuation of what you are doing already or something new. It is important that there be a training component, i.e., you must learn new skills or techniques with your mentor(s) that you are not completely familiar with already. The research plan for the R00 can dovetail with the K99 project or be separate. Usually, applicants propose a project that is a logical extension of what they are doing during the K99. If the R00 plan is unrelated, you must be sure that it is feasible in terms of scope and what you are trained to do. The R00 will probably be carried out at an institution different from where you are now. You may not have some of the resources (e.g., special animal strains, subject populations, collaborators) that you currently have available. You should make it clear in the application how you will obtain any of these essential resources once you move. Some of this you may not know about because you have yet to arrange a faculty position.

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If the studies in the K99 phase do not involve human subjects/tissues, but the studies in the R00 phase will, do I need to fill out the Human Subjects Attachment?

Yes, you should fill out the Human Subjects Attachment, making it clear that you will be doing the human Subjects work in the R00 phase. Otherwise, you may be expected to get Institutional Review Board approval during the K99 phase. If you don't include the attachment at all, your application will probably be viewed as incomplete. Just answer to the best of your ability, since we know that the R00 will likely be conducted at another institution.

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How do I certify my visa status for the K99 and R00?

Provision (a) of the following Program Announcement eligibility language is what the K99 institution needs to address in the application:

For non-U.S. citizen/permanent residents, the applicant U.S. institution for each phase of the application (K99 or R00) is responsible for determining and documenting in the application that the applicant investigator's visa will allow him or her to remain in this country long enough to (a) transition to an independent research career in the U.S. during the proposed mentored (K99) phase and/or (b) be productive on the research project in the U.S. for the duration of the proposed independent research (R00) phase.

The institutional certification should include something like, "Dr. Wu is currently on a 1-year H1B visa extension which will end 02/2013. If the K99 application is funded, we would extend her visa for 3 years." The NICHD Grants Management Branch will verify the visa extension prior to award of the K99. If a grant is awarded on the basis of this information and the individual's visa does not allow for such a stay, the NIH may terminate the grant (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/QsandAs.htm#1607).

The institution where the candidate secures a faculty position will apply for the R00 phase. In that transition application, the institution must provide documentation regarding Item (b) above, namely that the candidate will be productive for the 3 years of that award. Again, if the candidate's visa expires or he/she moves to a foreign institution, the R00 award will be terminated.

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Can a K99 awardee be promoted from postdoctoral fellow to some other higher paying position, such as research associate or research assistant professor?

A research associate position is not likely to be a problem. At most institutions this is considered a senior level postdoctoral position or a staff position. A title of research assistant professor, or instructor, or equivalent position may also be acceptable as long as it is clear that the Principal Investigator (PI) continues to be dependent on the mentor's space and research resources, and that the position does not carry privileges equivalent to a regular faculty position. If the PI has been supported on the K99 for a year or more, he or she should be searching for full-time regular faculty positions, preferably outside of the K99 institution. Finding a faculty position must be completed before the 2-year mark of the K99. The PI should keep in touch with program staff during negotiations with potential employers in order to help with the transition process.

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Can a K99 grantee submit for an R03 or R21 grant?

Someone who has already received a K99 can apply for research projects grants (RPG) such as the R03 or R21. However, they cannot accept any salary effort from the RPG. Even the 25% effort that might be available to the awardee (cases that specify the minimum required 75% effort on the K99) would not be available because it would fall under the rule prohibiting salary supplementation with Public Health Service funds. There is an allowance for other mentored Ks (e.g., K01, K08, and K23) for a shift in effort and ability to draw salary from an RPG in the last 2 years of the award. This rule does not apply to the K99. The R03 or R21 cannot be active before the K99. Otherwise the applicant is ineligible. The policy is spelled out in the K99/R00 Program Announcement:

Candidates may submit research project grant (RPG) applications concurrently with the K application. However, any concurrent RPG application may not duplicate the provisions of the career award application. K award recipients are encouraged to obtain funding from NIH or other Federal sources either as a PD/PI on a competing research grant award or cooperative agreement, or as project leader on a competing multi-project award as described in NOT-OD-08-065.

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Can I get a no-cost extension of my K99 award?

The requirements of the K99/R00 program differ in many ways from conventional grant awards. Recipients are expected to apply for and accept a tenure track or equivalent faculty position sometime before the end of the 2-year period. The K99 and R00 phases of the award are intended to be continuous in time. An important reason for this is that our financial planning here at the NICHD assumes that funding for the R00 phase, if the transition application is approved, will occur within a certain time frame. Requests for a no-cost extension are only granted under unusual circumstances. Expectations regarding the duration of the K99 are described in the program announcement.

To request a no-cost extension on your K99 award, you should submit a formal letter, endorsed by the Authorized Organizational Representative, providing details of the request. The letter should address the following issues:

  • Documentation of your efforts in trying to obtain a faculty appointment and the reasons why the search has not been successful to date
  • A description of progress on the originally proposed career development plan
  • Information on the type of appointment you will have during the extension period, including the professional title, the source of financial support, and the proposed research activities you will be conducting

The letter of request should be addressed to the Project Officer with copy to the Grants Specialist. A no-cost extension only changes the termination date of the grant. You are still required to adhere to the terms and conditions listed in the Notice of Award and the policies described in the Program Announcement. That includes continued effort of at least 75% on the K99 research project and related career development activities. No salary may be accepted from Public Health Service (PHS) sources, such as another NIH grant. You may only draw salary from non-PHS sources such as departmental funds or private foundation funds.

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What are the procedures for requesting the transition to the R00 phase?

K99/R00 transition procedures are described in Section VI.2. of the K99 Program Announcement.

The NICHD expects K99 awardees to spend at least 1 year, and no more than 2 years, on the K99 phase of the award. It is very important for awardees who are negotiating for new faculty positions to stay in contact with NICHD program staff members. Those individuals will be able to provide guidance on the transition process and perspective on the quality of the faculty offers. After the candidate accepts a faculty offer, the transition application must be submitted by the new institution on a PHS 398 form. The R00 is technically a "type 4 revision." The "Revision" box on the Face Page of the application should be checked. The application and all supporting documents should be submitted directly to the K99 Project Officer and Grants Specialist at NICHD. These individuals will forward the packet to the Transition Committee for review (see below).

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Will The NICHD approve R00 transitions at the same institution where the K99 phase was conducted, i.e., at the postdoctoral institution?

K99 recipients are strongly encouraged to seek faculty positions at institutions other than where they received their postdoctoral training. In some cases, however, a faculty position at the same institution may be considered if the candidate has made a bona fide attempt seek other positions and the K99 institution provides the best opportunity to develop an independent research career. The institutional commitment letter must clearly describe the type of position and details of the offer so NICHD staff can determine if this is an acceptable "tenure track or equivalent" position.

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How are K99/R00 transition requests evaluated at the NICHD?

The NICHD has a K99/R00 Transition Committee that conducts an administrative review of transition requests. The focus of the review includes: 1) any modifications to the approved R00 research plan; 2) progress on the K99 training plan; and 3) aspects of the new faculty appointment and academic environment. The commitments of the new department, type of faculty appointment, and start-up package are very important considerations.

At the end of a job search, the hiring department should send a formal offer letter or letter of appointment. That letter will describe the type of faculty position and other important provisions of the appointment. If the appointment is tenure track, the letter should state that clearly. This will greatly facilitate the R00 review, especially if the candidate is staying at the same institution. If the appointment is for a "tenure track equivalent" position, which is all some institutions will offer, there must be a number of assurances in the commitment letter. The application will be reviewed more closely to be sure the position isn't a temporary research faculty appointment without important rights and privileges. Most K99 awardees have been receiving outstanding faculty offers. Awardees should therefore apply to multiple institutions and choose carefully among the offers.

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Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012

Additional Resources

  • NIH Office of Extramural Research Training Page
    References to policies, funding levels, application and review process, and FOAs for all grants, fellowships, and career development awards
  • NIH Grant Application Forms
    Forms for grant and fellowship applications, non-competing continuation applications, progress reports, statements of appointment and termination, payback agreement, and grant close-out
  • Submitting Applications (Grants.gov)
    Main government Web site for submitting grant applications; provides application forms for the grant mechanism selected
  • NIH Research Portfolio On-line Reporting Tool (RePORT)
    Searchable database of all funded grants and fellowships, statistics on numbers of applications to specific NIH institutes, success rates, and other information
  • NICHD Funded Projects: RePORT
    RePORT Search Results for NICHD Funded Projects
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