University of Southern California


RFA-RM-20-014: NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards (DP5 Clinical Trial Optional)

Slots:                                        2

Internal Deadline:                      June 19, 2020

LOI:                                          August 4, 2020

External Deadline:                     September 4, 2020

Award Information:                   Type: Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 10

Anticipated Amount: Awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs.

Process for Limited Submissions: PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit include:

(1) Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 1-page limit will be excluded from review.

(2) CV – (5 pages maximum)


Who May Serve as PI:                   Applications with multiple PDs/PIs will not be accepted. Only single PD/PI applications are allowed. Only the PD/PI may be listed as a Senior/Key Person and provide a Biographical Sketch.

Time window for eligibility: Given the focus on early research independence, the receipt date of the terminal doctoral degree or end of post-graduate clinical training of the PD/PI must be between June 1, 2019 and September 30, 2021. The degree receipt date is that which appears on the official transcript for the degree. The end of post-graduate clinical training includes residency and fellowship periods. At the time of application, the PD/PI must not have served as a post-doctoral fellow following a previous (not the most recent) doctoral degree for more than twelve months.

At the time of award, either 1) the Early Independence investigator must have received a PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, DrPH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW, PsyD, 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), or 2) an authorized official of the degree-granting or training institution must certify that all degree requirements have been met and that the receipt date of the degree (as will appear on the transcript) will be before September 30, 2021; in addition, an authorized official of the host institution must certify that the PD/PI will be eligible to conduct independent research at the institution at the time of the project start date.

Research independence at time of application: Individuals are eligible only if they, at the time of application submission, do not have research independence. Lack of research independence is defined functionally rather than by position title. Eligible individuals must have all the following characteristics:

Though PDs/PIs must not be functionally independent at the time of application submission, they may become functionally independent prior to time of award and still retain eligibility for the award.

Purpose:                                   The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award provides 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 from post-doctoral training, a small number of outstanding junior investigators are capable of launching directly into an independent research career. For those select junior investigators who have already established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and have demonstrated unusual scientific vision and maturity, typical post-doctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into independent research. The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award also provides an opportunity for institutions to invigorate their research programs by bringing in fresh scientific perspectives of the awardees they host. Those wishing to apply for the NIH Director’s Emergency Early Independence Award for SARS-CoV-2-related research must apply in response to RFA-RM-20-021.

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.