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Limited Submission: NIH Director’s Emergency Early Independence Awards (DP5 Clinical Trial Optional)

This FOA solicits applications responsive only to the COVID-19 public health emergency through support of the CARES Act.

Summary

This FOA solicits applications responsive only to the COVID-19 public health emergency through support of the CARES Act. All other Early Independence Award applications must be submitted in response to RFA-RM-20-014.

The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (a component of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program of the NIH Common Fund) supports exceptional junior investigators who wish to pursue independent research soon after completion of their terminal doctoral degree or post-graduate clinical training, thereby forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period and accelerating their entry into an independent research career. For the program to support the best possible researchers and research, applications are sought which reflect the full diversity of the research workforce. Individuals from diverse backgrounds and from the full spectrum of eligible institutions in all geographic locations are strongly encouraged to apply to this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Common Fund will dedicate funds provided by the CARES Actto support a total of 5-10 Early Independence Awards (through this FOA) or Transformative Research Awards(through RFA-RM-20-020) that bring new, innovative perspectives and approaches to the prevention of, preparation for, or response to coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, domestically or internationally. Any relevant area of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 research is welcome, including behavioral/social science research, research on health disparities, novel therapeutics, and other related topics. As with all High-Risk, High-Reward Research program applications, innovation may be technological or conceptual.

Please read the full program announcement before preparing your internal application.

Award Amount
  • The NIH will dedicate funds provided by the CARES Act to support a total of 5-10 Early Independence Awards (through this FOA) or Transformative Research Awards (through RFA-RM-20-020).
  • Awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs.
  • The project period is limited to five years.
Eligibility

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

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.

There is no U.S. citizenship requirement for PDs/PIs. For applications submitted on behalf of non-U.S. citizens with temporary U.S. visas, visa status must allow the PD/PI to conduct the proposed research at the applicant institution. The applicant institution is responsible for determining if and documenting that the PD’s/PI’s visa will allow the PD/PI to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the award.

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.

Level of effort: Individuals must commit at least 9.6 person-months each year (i.e., 80% effort of a 12-month appointment) to the Early Independence Award project in years 1-2 of the project period. In years 3-5, awardees may reduce effort towards the Early Independence Award project but must commit at least 9.6 person-months each year (i.e., 80% effort of a 12-month appointment) to independent research in general.

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:

  • The PD/PI’s current research agenda is set through concurrence with mentors.
  • The PD/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/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 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.

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 case, the institution is expected to provide substantial support for the junior scientist, as detailed below. To foster independence, PDs/PIs may benefit from being hosted by an institution at which they have not previously studied or trained.

Selection Criteria

Detailed review criteria can be found here.

Limitation Details

An Institution may submit 2 proposals

If you are interested in submitting for this program, you must first submit an internal application to limsub@uga.eduaccording to the required instructions below.

Internal Applications must include the following:
  • A cover page listing
    • The name of this funding opportunity and title of your proposal
    • Your name, UGA position, home department, email, and UGA contact information
    • Your receipt date of terminal doctoral degree (must be between June 1, 2019 and September 30th, 2021)
    • Research project collaborator names, positions, and institutions (if any)
    • Name, position, affiliation, and email of nominator (below)
  • A letter of support from the nominator (such as UGA department head or research mentor) that confirms the following: 
    • that the candidate has the maturity, creativity, and scientific independence to bypass traditional post-doctoral training
    • that the candidate currently does not have research independence (as defined in the Eligibility section above)
    • that the UGA department, school, college, center, or institute (unit) agrees to appoint the candidate in a position in which the candidate will be able to devote at least 9.6 person-months (80% effort) to conducting independent research during the project period, with at least the first two years being devoted entirely to the Early Independence Award project
    • that the unit will provide dedicated laboratory space and equipment for the conduct of the candidate’s research project (NIH reviewers will take into account the institutional commitment when rating applications)
  • A (maximum two-page) research proposal summary that includes the project title, overall goal, and methodology
  • A statement (one paragraph) by the candidate that explains why they should be one of UGA’s two nominees (i.e. why you feel you are the most competitive for this program). 
  • Candidate’s Curriculum vitae
Internal Selection

Limited Submission announcements often generate multiple competing proposals.  UGA reviewers judge proposals as they would in any peer review process, so PIs are urged to put their best foot forward.  Along with typical criteria, reviewers will evaluate internal proposals based on their fit with the sponsor’s articulated goals and criteria. 

Internal Submission Instructions

The above internal application materials should be submitted via email as a single .PDF file to limsub@uga.edu by the internal deadline listed above. 

Questions?

Please submit questions regarding the internal competition to limsub@uga.edu.

For questions directly related to this program, please contact the following program officers:

Becky Miller, Ph.D.
Office of the Director (OD)
Telephone: 301-594-9979
Email: earlyindependence@od.nih.gov


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