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LIMITED SUBMISSION: NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5)

Modified: April 27, 2017

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 postdoctoral training period.  For these select investigators, who have established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and who have demonstrated unusual leadership, drive, and maturity, postdoctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into performing independent research. Please review complete detailed instructions on the Limited Submission website (and below)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a limited submission opportunity and specific instructions for submitting the MANDATORY INTERNAL LETTER OF INTENT, including the Department Chair Letter is below.


  • The date of receipt of the terminal doctoral degree or completion of clinical residency of the PD/PI must be between June 1, 2016 and September 30, 2018.  The clinical fellowship period is NOT included in the clinical residency or equivalent training period. The date of degree receipt is that which appears on the official transcript for the degree.
  • At the time of application, the PD/PI must not have served as a postdoctoral fellow following a previous doctoral degree for more than twelve months.
  • At the time of award, either 1) the Early Independence investigator must have received a terminal doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution or 2) an authorized official of the degree-granting institution must certify that all degree requirements have been met and that the date of degree receipt as appearing on the transcript will be before September 30, 2018.
  • 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:
    • The PD's/PI's current research agenda is set through concurrence with mentors.
    • The PD's/PI's research is funded primarily through support to other investigators (mentored fellowships such as NIH F31 or F32 Fellowships or NSF Graduate Research Fellowships do not preclude eligibility).
    • The PD/PI does not have any space assigned directly by the institution for the conduct of his or her research.
    • The PD/PI, according to institutional policy, cannot apply for an NIH R01 grant without special waiver or exemption from the institution.
  • Though PD/PI 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.
  • Only single PD/PI applications will be accepted.
  • Individuals must commit at least 9.6 person-months (i.e., 80% effort of a 12 month appointment) during the first two years of the project period to research supported by the Early Independence Award. In the final three years of the project period, awardees may reduce effort toward the Early Independence Award, but the total effort towards independent research must remain at least 9.6 person-months (i.e., 80% effort of a 12 month appointment).


  • Two applications per institution are allowed.


  • Internal Letter of Intent Due (including Dept Chair Letter): June 19 (by midnight)
  • Sponsor Letter of Intent Due (optional): August 22
  • Sponsor Proposal Due:  September 22

Candidates interested in applying are required to submit a letter of intent (LOI) that includes a Department Chair letter by the deadline specified above. If interest exceeds the number of submissions the university is allowed, an internal competition will be held. Typically, all investigators that submit an LOI will be invited to submit an internal proposal. Occasionally, as appropriate, based on the LOI, only selected applicants will be invited to submit an internal proposal.

  • Click HERE to access the LOI form.
  • Obtain a signed Department Chair letter that is responsive to Section IV. 2: “Application and Submission Information” under “Facilities and Other Resources”, as described in the full solicitation that includes the following components:

    1. Position details

    2. Institutional resources commitment

    3. Institutional career development commitment.

  • Compile the letter of intent and Department Chair letter as a single PDF file.
  • Name the file as follows: “LastName-FirstInitial-NIH-DP5-2017”, replacing “LastName” with your last name and “First Initial” with your first initial
  • Submit your LOI by completing this web form. Note: Supplemental documents are not accepted.
  • To receive a confirmation email and copy of your submission, check the box (“Send me a copy of my responses”) and enter your email address
  • Click “Submit”

Nicole Moore, Director, 847-467-0566
Limited Submissions website

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