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New Investigator Advice Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

As a new applicant, where should I look for advice?

Our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding tutorial is a good place to start. For more detailed information and advice on writing an application, check out our Strategy for NIH Funding.

To see examples of exceptional funded applications, go to Sample Applications and Summary Statements on Samples and Examples.

Find these resources on our New and Early-Stage Investigators portal. NIH also has a New Investigators page.

How do I know if I qualify as a new or early-stage investigator?

See Are You "New"? in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

How does NIH identify a new or early-stage investigator?

NIH uses the information you enter in your Commons profile. Read more in Are You "New"?

If I qualify as a new investigator, would being listed as an investigator on another R01 with a more senior PI jeopardize my new investigator status?

No. Your being an investigator (listed as key personnel) on another person's grant would not jeopardize your status as a new or early-stage investigator. That status counts only for the PI, not key personnel.

I applied for an R01 as a new investigator. The application was not funded. Can I apply for another R01 as a new investigator?

Yes, NIH’s definition of a new investigator depends on whether you were awarded certain types of grants, not whether you applied. So you can continue applying for an R01 and still be considered a new investigator.

If I am a project leader on a P01 project, can I qualify as a new PI for an R01 application?

Yes. As a project leader on a P01, you are not a PI, so you are still eligible to be a new investigator.

I am a site leader for a multicenter U34 grant but not the program director for the entire project. Does this disqualify me as a new investigator for future R01 applications?

No, since you are not the program director/principal investigator of the overall grant, you will keep your new investigator status for a future R01.

Read Definition of New Investigator for more information on determining new investigator status.

I was assigned to be PI for a major NIH grant after the former PI left. Other than that, I still meet the new PI definition. Would I still be considered a new PI for my first R01 application?

Yes. If you are appointed as PI but weren't listed as the PI on the original application, NIH would still consider you to be a new investigator when it's time to apply for your own R01.

Read more on the NIH definition at Are You "New"? in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding tutorial.

I've never been awarded an NIH research grant; however, I was assigned to lead a research project as the principal investigator during the noncompeting phase of an R01 grant. Can I still be considered a new investigator?

Yes. Only those who have previously competed successfully as principal investigator on a significant independent NIH research grant are excluded from consideration as a new investigator. If you are in this situation and a subsequent R01 you submit does not have new investigator status, you should contact the eRA Service Desk.

I am listed as key personnel on an R01, working on the project through a subaward. My institution considers me the PI of the subaward. Does this affect my new investigator status?

No. NIH recognizes as program director/principal investigator (PD/PI) only those who are listed as such on the Notice of Award. The same would apply in the case of a multiple PI (MPI) award—only those who are listed as PDs/PIs as part of an MPI application jeopardize losing their new investigator status.

Read Definition of New Investigator to learn more.

If I received a grant from the National Science Foundation, am I still considered new for NIH?

Yes. Only NIH grants affect your status as a new or early-stage investigator. For more explanation, see Are You "New"?

Is the R21 a good option for a new PI?

See Is the R21 a good option for a new PI? in Small and Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants questions and answers.

I have an R21. Will I keep my new investigator status if I apply for a second R21?

Yes, you would still be considered new. For more information, see Are You "New"?

If I will be a PI on the subcontract part of a Small Business Innovation Research award, will I lose my new investigator status?

No. A subcontractor is not the official NIH PI for a grant. For more information on new PI status, go to Are You "New"?

If I submit an R01 application as a new investigator but receive another R01, does my status change?

As soon as you get your first R01, your status changes in the NIH grants database, and you are no longer a new investigator. If you already submitted a second application as a new investigator, the database will automatically update your status after your first award.

Will my new investigator status be affected if I replace another investigator as PI on a resubmission?

See If I replace another investigator as PI on a resubmission, will my new investigator status be affected? in our Resubmission of Unfunded Applications questions and answers.

For a multiple PI application, what constitutes a new or early-stage investigator?

When submitting a multiple PI application, you are not new or early-stage unless all the other PIs also meet NIH's Definition of New Investigator, which we explain in Are You "New"?

For caveats and advice, read Should You Consider a Multiple PI Application? in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

What are the consequences of a multiple PI application for new PIs?

Read our advice in Should You Consider a Multiple PI Application? in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

I am an ESI and am planning to submit a multiple-PI application. Will my ESI status ensure special consideration for our application?

A multiple PI grant application will be flagged for ESI status only if all principal investigators listed are ESIs. The policy for ESIs on multiple PI applications is parallel to the situation for new investigators. See the Definition of New Investigator.

As a new investigator seeking independent funding, should I always ask for the smallest grant type?

Not necessarily. You should request the amount appropriate to your research and career level. Talk to your institution and a program officer for advice. Do not choose the award type yourself.

Get program officer contact information at see Contact Staff for Help. For more information, read these pages in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding:

Does NIAID have special programs to help new investigators who miss the R01 payline?

Yes. If you are a new investigator and your outstanding R01 application misses the payline, you would be more likely to get an R56-Bridge or selective pay award than more experienced investigators would.

For more information, see the Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.Selective Pay SOP, the NIAID R56-Bridge Award SOP, and Contact Your Program Officer to Learn Your Funding Options in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Are reviewers less critical of new investigators?

In some respects, yes. In evaluating applications, peer reviewers look more at potential than achievement. However, you'll still need the recources and experience to do the work. See Creating Your Application in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

Should I try to impress reviewers with a lot of background information?

No. Reviewers may know much more about your field than you do. You should not put anything in the application that's not directly relevant. See Creating Your Application for ideas on how to impress reviewers.

Read Know Your Audience in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should I try to impress reviewers by avoiding collaborators and showing I can do it all?

No. They will be more impressed if you bring in collaborators to fill gaps in your expertise and resources. It helps to choose a mentor or collaborators who are well known and respected since reviewers may recognize their names.

In our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding, see Getting Oriented, and for training and career awards, see Before Applying, Choose a Good Mentor. For general advice, read Design a Project in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

As new investigator, will I receive a summary statement for my R01 application in time to resubmit for the next review cycle?

Yes. You have at least a month between receiving your summary statement and the resubmission deadline. However, that timeframe may not give you enough time to prepare. Read Timing Factors That Affect Your Application and Award in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

If I resubmit my R01 application to CSR for consecutive review cycles, must I send it to the same study section that reviewed it the first time?


Do I apply for a research supplement the same way as a grant?

No. NIAID awards research supplements to existing research grants. The grantee applies, not the person receiving the support. We offer Diversity, Primary Caregiver, and Reentry supplements. For more information, go to Research Supplements on our Training and Career portal.

What kinds of fellowships and career awards does NIAID support?

NIAID supports Training Awards, Fellowships, and Career Development Awards. For more information, see our Advice on Research Training and Career Awards tutorial and the Training and Career Awards main page.

How can I learn about NIAID funding opportunities and other news?

See How can I receive email messages from NIAID about funding and other news? in our Finding Help questions and answers.

What if my question wasn't answered here, or I'd like to suggest a question?

Email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. We answer questions by email and post them here. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.

Last Updated April 13, 2016

Last Reviewed June 27, 2012