University of Southern California



Slots: Two
Nomination per School: Two Proposals may not be submitted directly by the PI; nominations are submitted by the School’s Research Dean’s Office.    

LOI: December 31, 2013
Internal Deadline:  November 4, 2013
External Deadline:  January 31, 2014
Award Information: Type:  New
Estimated Number of Awards: The NIH Common Fund intends to commit approximately $4,000,000 in FY 2014. Approximately 10 awards are anticipated, contingent upon availability of funds and receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.
Anticipated Amount: Awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs. For a period of 5 years.

Materials to Office of Research: Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). CV– 4 pages max.

Link to Award:

Purpose: The NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards initiative is funded through the NIH Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact. All Common Fund initiatives invite investigators to develop bold, innovative, and often risky approaches to address problems that may seem intractable or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress.

The NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards provide an opportunity for exceptional junior scientists to accelerate their entry into an independent research career by forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period. Though most newly graduated doctoral-level researchers would benefit by post-doctoral training, a small number of outstanding junior investigators would benefit instead by launching directly into an independent research career. For these select investigators, who have established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and who have demonstrated unusual leadership, drive, and maturity, post-doctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into performing independent research. The NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards also provide an opportunity for institutions to invigorate their research programs by bringing in the fresh perspectives of the awardees that they host.

At the time of application, the Early Independence Award candidate must be within twelve months before or after the completion of their PhD (or equivalent) or for clinicians within twelve months before or after the completion of their medical residency (or equivalent) training. The medical fellowship period is NOT included as part of the medical residence or equivalent training. The date of degree receipt is that which appears on the official transcript for the degree. The time of application is the date when the application is submitted electronically to NIH through In addition, at the time of application, the Early Independence investigator must not have served as a post-doctoral fellow following a previous doctoral degree for more than one year. By the end of the award period, the Early Independence investigator is expected to be competitive for continued funding of his/her research program and for a permanent research position.

Each institution (as defined by having a unique DUNS identifier) may submit only up to two applications. Prospective candidates should contact appropriate Institutional leaders to seek an appointment in an independent research position (For a listing of eligible degrees for Early Independence Investigators, please refer to Section III.1. Eligible Applicants). Alternatively, Institutions may actively recruit eligible junior scientists to apply for support through this program. In either event, the Institution will be expected to provide substantial support for the junior scientist as detailed below. To foster independence, it may behoove candidates to be hosted by institutions other than the ones at which they trained. To facilitate the “matching” of institutions and candidates, the NIH Common Fund is hosting a website ( in which institutions interested in hosting candidates may choose to provide pertinent information such as particular areas of research being targeted, supporting documents to be submitted, and institution contact information.


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