Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

1.  What is the NIH Director's Early Independence Award?

2.  What distinguishes this award from traditional NIH grants?

3.  How does the NIH Director's Early Independence Award differ from other awards in the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program?

4.  How many awards will be made?

5.  Are women and members of underrepresented minority groups encouraged to apply?

6.  I don’t see my area of research supported previously by the New Innovator Award program. Does this mean that it is not of interest to NIH?

7.  My institution is not research intensive. Will this be an issue?

8.  If I receive an award, will I still be considered an "Early Stage Investigator" or "New Investigator?"

9.  Will another funding opportunity be available next year?

10.  Can someone at NIH review my idea and let me know if it is a good fit for this award?

11.  What is the competition timeline?

12.  Have evaluations of the Early Independence Award been conducted?

13.  What is the success rate for the Early Independence Award?

Information for Institutions

1.  How does an institution select potential applicants?

2.  What is meant by "independent research position?"

3.  Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?

4.  What is the expected institutional commitment to awardees?

5.  Is it expected that an applicant have laboratory space?

Eligibility Requirements

1.  What are the eligibility requirements?

2.  How much time/effort must be devoted to the project?

3.  Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

4.  May I apply from a foreign institution?

5.  What is meant by “non-independent” research position?

6.  Are recent faculty appointees eligible?

7.  If I receive an independent research position after I submit my application, am I still eligible?

8.  Are postdoctoral fellows eligible?

9.  Are Multiple Program Directors/Principle Investigators allowed on a single application?

10.  Are collaborators and consultants allowed?

11.  Can collaborators, contractors, and/or consultants submit Letters of Support?

12.  Can collaborators, contractors, and/or consultants submit Biographical Sketches?

13.  Is the NIH Intramural program eligible to apply?

14.  What scientific areas are eligible to apply?

15.  Can I work with a collaborator in a foreign country, and would I be able conduct research there?

16.  Is research conducted in a foreign country allowed?

17.  I anticipate switching institutions. Should I apply from my current institution or my future institution?

18.  How can I find an institution willing to host me?

19.  If I am not successful this year, may I reapply next year?

20.  If I change institutions, are awards transferable?

21.  Can I submit an application to another NIH funding opportunity at the same time as the Early Independence Award application?

22.  Can I submit an application for a career development (K) award at the same time as the Early Independence Award application?

23.  Can I simultaneously hold both an Early Independence Award and a career development (K) award?

24.  I'm in a postdoctoral position now and will be in it more than 12 months by the time the Early Independence Award is made. Am I still eligible?

25.  Can I begin my independent research position or request a project start date that is later than September of the awarding year?

26.  Will I be able to receive an Early Independence Award if I don’t have all the research approvals needed to begin my research project by the time the Notice of Award is issued in September?

Application & Submission

1.  What are the important dates for applications?

2.  Will late applications be accepted?

3.  Is a Letter of Intent (LOI) required to apply for this award?

4.  What must be done before I submit an application to

5.  Where can I find help registering for

6.  Where can I find help in submitting my application to

7.  Where can I find help in registering for the eRA Commons?

8.  Who is an appropriate "institution official?"

9.  What components in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide are required?

10.  How should documents be formatted?

11.  Are the Specific Aims and Research Strategy sections separate documents?

12.  Should the Specific Aims page differ from traditional research Specific Aims on an R01?

13.  In my essay, may I include citations (references) to key publications? If so, what is the appropriate format?

14.  May I include figures and illustrations in my essay?

15.  May I include movies, either as weblinks or as a CD, with my application?

16.  May I submit new data after submitting my application?

17.  If my application is not funded, will I have an opportunity to revise and resubmit?

18.  What documents are needed for the application?

19.  Does my application require a Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan?

20.  My application should not result in a large amount of data. Do I still need a Data Management and Sharing Plan?

21.  I have a Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Plan for my application. Can that substitute for a Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan?

22.  Can I see a Sample Data Management and Sharing Plan?

23.  How do I submit the Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan?

24.  What is the purpose of designating Areas of Science?

25.  Where do I designate the Areas of Science for my application?

26.  What are the Areas of Science?

27.  May I designate more than two Areas of Science?

28.  Can someone at the NIH help me select my Areas of Science?


1.  How much can be requested?

2.  How do I put together a budget request?

3.  What format should my budget be in?

4.  Can the project period be for less than five years?

5.  May I request more or less than $250,000 in direct costs per year?

6.  Are indirect costs provided in the award?

7.  How should I account for indirect costs (Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs) in my application?

8.  Should indirect costs related to subcontracts be included in the total direct costs for the award?

9.  May a collaborator be funded on the award?

10.  Are there grant resources that can help me through the NIH application process?

11.  Can I ask for additional funds for Data Sharing and Management?

Letters of Reference

1.  Are letters of reference required?

2.  What is the difference between a letter of reference and a letter of support?

3.  In addition to my letters of reference, may I include letters of support?

4.  From whom should I request letters of reference?

5.  May I ask more than five individuals to submit letters for my application?

6.  May a single letter of reference come from more than one individual?

7.  How do my referees submit their letters in support of my application?

8.  Will I be notified when letters are submitted?

9.  How can I check the status of my letters of reference?

10.  Can a referee also be a collaborator, contractor, or consultant on the project?

Review & Selection

1.  How will awardees be selected?

2.  What criteria will be used to evaluate applications?

3.  Which review criteria will be emphasized?

4.  May I suggest specific reviewers for my application?

5.  Will I receive a summary statement or other comments?

6.  When will the awardees be announced?

7.  Can the decision of the panel of reviewers be appealed?

Award Administration

1.  What requirements must I fulfill during the term of the award?

2.  How will the award be administered?

3.  Who is funding my award?

4.  Do I need to submit an annual progress report?

5.  Should I mention NIH support in journal articles that pertain to research supported with my NIH Director's Early Independence Award?

6.  Should I notify the NIH of any note-worthy publications or media coverage of my research?

7.  Am I required to submit my journal manuscripts to PubMed Central?

8.  Are there annual meetings I am required to attend?

9.  Are these awards renewable?

10.  Is it possible to request a no-cost extension at the end of the grant period if there are unexpended funds?

11.  Is the award transferable if I change institutions?

This page last reviewed on March 28, 2023