NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (EIA) Program

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

Opportunity Summary

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. 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 oriented position. 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.

Prospective PDs/PIs should contact appropriate Institutional leaders to seek an appointment in an independent research position. 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. To foster independence, it may behoove PDs/PIs to be hosted by institutions other than the ones at which they trained.

Eligibility & Requirements:

  • Given the focus on early research independence, 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. In addition, at the time of application, the PD/PI must not have served as a post-doctoral 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 PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, Dr PH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW, PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution.
  • See all eligibility requirements here.

Internal Nomination Process:

Interested applicants should send the following documents in sequence in one PDF no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

1. Proposal (maximum of two pages of text only, single spaced: 12-pt font and one-inch margins) (Note: figures, tables, and other reference material may be included in addition to the 2 pg. text limit)

2. Curriculum Vitae of investigator, including current external research support and publications

3. Budget (two pages maximum)

4. Letter of Recommendation from the Department Chair/Director.

Questions concerning the limited submissions process may be submitted to

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Sep 22, 2017
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Friday, July 28, 2017 - 4:00pm