NIH Announces Modification to their New Investigator Policy to Identify Early Stage Investigators
Notice Number: NOT-OD-08-121
Release Date: September 26, 2008
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health (NIH) (www.nih.gov )
This notice describes a change in NIH New Investigator policies designed to encourage early transition to independence. Under this policy, New Investigators within ten years of completing their terminal research degree or within ten years of completing their medical residency will be designated Early Stage Investigators (ESIs). Traditional NIH research grant (R01s) applications from ESIs will be identified and the career stage of the applicant will be considered at the time of review and award.
For more than three decades the NIH has explicitly encouraged New Investigators to apply for NIH research grant support. The involvement of New Investigators is considered essential to the vitality of health-related research and has been addressed by several important NIH programs and studies which are detailed on the New Investigator Website at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/resources.htm.
In spite of persistent attention to the identification and funding of New Investigators, the duration of postdoctoral training has increased. This is consistent with the observation that the average age at which an investigator first obtains R01 funding has increased by more than 5 years between 1980 to and 2001 (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/Workforce_Info09072007.ppt). Current New Investigator policies have encouraged entry into the PI pool of investigators but those policies have not addressed the problem of elongated periods of training or the delayed transition to independence.
Accordingly, the NIH will more broadly adopt an approach piloted by the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2) (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-RM-08-014.html). This award is targeted to applicants within 10 years of completing their terminal degree or within 10 years of completing their medical residency. Other features of the New Innovator Award may not apply to ESIs.
The NIH will continue to encourage all New Investigators to apply for NIH R01 awards. However, under this new policy, those New Investigators who are within 10 years of their terminal research degree or within 10 years of completing a medical residency, will be identified as Early Stage Investigators. Their applications will be identified and their career stage will be considered at the time of review and award. It is hoped that by providing an advantage for ESIs, the NIH will be able to directly encourage earlier application for NIH research grant support.
New Investigator: An NIH research grant Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has not yet competed successfully for a substantial, competing NIH research grant is considered a New Investigator. For example, a PD/PI who has previously received a competing NIH R01 research grant is no longer considered a New Investigator. However, a PD/PI who has received a Small Grant (R03) or an Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) retains his or her status as a New Investigator. A complete definition of a New Investigator along with a list of NIH grants that do not disqualify a PD/PI from being considered a New Investigator can be found at http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/resources.htm.
Early Stage Investigator (ESI): An individual who is classified as a New or First-Time Investigator and is within 10 years of completing his/her terminal research degree or is within 10 years of completing medical residency (or the equivalent) is considered an Early Stage Investigator (ESI).
Extension of ESI Eligibility: The 10 year period after completion of the terminal degree or residency may be extended to accommodate special circumstances including various medical concerns, disability, pressing family care responsibilities, or active duty military service. Guidelines for requesting and considering such requests are being developed and will be announced.
Beginning with traditional R01 applications received for the February 2009 receipt dates, the NIH will identify applications from ESIs and New Investigators and the career stage of the PD/PI will be considered at the time of review and award. Some of the details are still being worked out and will be announced as they become available. At the current time it is expected that the implementation will include the following features:
- The NIH will modify the data collection related to degree dates and medical residency within the personal profile of the eRA Commons (https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/). When the revised data collection approach is announced PD/PIs must update their personal profile in the eRA Commons to provide information on degree and residency completion dates in order to be considered for the ESI classification.
- New Investigators within 10 years of their terminal research degree or within 10 years of completing their medical residency will be identified as ESIs using data entered in the eRA Commons.
- Investigators who enter degree and residency completion dates will be notified of their ESI status by email.
- A procedure and guidelines for requesting an extension of the period of ESI eligibility will be developed and announced to accommodate individuals with various medical concerns, disability, pressing family care responsibilities, or active duty military service. Once the procedure has been announced, applicants will be able to request an extension of the indicated 10 year period by providing an adequate justification.
- PD/PIs who receive a substantive, competing NIH research grant will lose their New Investigator status and hence their status as an ESI.
- NIH will eliminate the New Investigator Check Box on the face page of PHS 398 and Form 424 R&R application. New Investigators will be identified using data within the NIH administrative database.
- Applications from ESIs and New Investigators will be identified to reviewers so that appropriate consideration of their career stage can be applied during review.
- As in the past, an application with more than one Principal Investigator will be identified for consideration by reviewers if all of the listed Principal Investigators qualify as ESIs or New Investigators.
- Staff in the NIH institutes and centers will be apprised of ESI and New Investigator status and this factor will be considered when applications are selected for award.
More complete information on the ESI-related features of the eRA Commons; instructions to reviewers for consideration of ESI applications; grouping of applications from ESIs during peer review; the process and criteria for requesting an extension of the period of eligibility; and a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will be developed between the issuance of this announcement and the February R01 receipt dates.
Direct inquiries regarding this Notice to:
Walter T. Schaffer, Ph.D.
Senior Scientific Advisor for Extramural Research
Office of Extramural Research
Building One, Room 138
Bethesda, MD 20892
Tel: (301) 402-2725