Skip Navigation

Research Funding

Skip Content Marketing
  • Share this:
  • submit to facebook
  • Tweet it
  • submit to reddit
  • submit to StumbleUpon
  • submit to Google +

Advice on Research Training and Career Awards

Advises you on research training, career awards, fellowships, and research supplements. Our advice comes from the knowledge and views of NIAID staff, including former NIH grantees. Help us improve our outreach to you by emailing deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

Table of Contents

Other Resources

Overview

What Are Training and Career Development Grants?

NIAID funds training and career awards to develop and support the next generation of biomedical researchers—people just entering graduate school, finishing their doctorates, or coming in from other fields.

These awards enable promising scientists to gain education and experience. We award some grants to people, while others go to specific projects or educational institutions.

NIAID supports four types of training and career grants. Except for the K99/R00, all require either U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status (Alien Registration Receipt Card, Form I-551). People on temporary or student visas are not eligible.

Which Grant Is Right for You?

NIAID funds grants for different career stages and types of research. We support awards for basic, clinical, and patient-oriented investigation, as well as awards for special populations at various career stages. To meet urgent national security needs, we offer training and career development opportunities in biodefense and related areas. See Biodefense and Related Programs.

For help in sorting out award options, see Support by Career Stage—Ph.D. Track and Support by Career Stage—M.D. Track. Also read our advice for predoctoral students, postdocs, and midcareer researchers.

Additional Resources

Fellowship Grants Support Predoctoral Students

If you have a baccalaureate degree and are enrolled in a Ph.D. (or equivalent research degree) or a combined degree (e.g., Ph.D. and M.D.) program, you have three fellowship choices.

Some NIH institutes support other predoctoral grants. For more information, see NIH's NRSA site.

Additional Resources

Postdoctoral Grants Fit Different Interests

If you recently earned a doctoral degree and are beginning your career as a junior researcher or faculty member, you qualify for several types of research support. Choose the award type that matches your area of interest. Physician-scientists interested in a mentored K award should read Advice on Mentored Career Development Awards.

Additional Resources

Midcareer Grants Target More Experienced Investigators

If you're an established researcher, select an award type that supports your career goals.

Additional Resources

For Some Grants, You'll Owe Work Time

Postdoctorate trainees on T32 grants and postdoctorate fellows (F series) must repay the government for their grant support. This isn't like paying off a loan; your debt is one of time and effort, not money. You can pay it off by continuing to work on the project for which you were funded.

During the first year of your appointment, you'll owe one month of payback for every month you're supported by NIH funds. After the first year, you can start paying back. For every month you continue to work—even with funding—you pay back one month of your debt. If your training lasts two years, your obligation will be paid in full.

If You Can't Pay Back With Work

If your project loses funding after the first year, you can complete your payback through continued research or teaching on at least a half-time basis (20 hours per week). Unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, you must complete the payback within two years after termination of support. If you fail to repay your obligation within two years, you'll owe the government the full amount of your grant, plus interest. If you don't perform the research or teaching necessary for payback, make sure you'll have the money to reimburse the government for your grant.

Your Payback Agreement

For information on submitting your payback agreement, see Submitting Your Fellowship Forms, Contacting NIAID and Submitting Your Training Grant Forms, Contacting NIAID.

Additional Resources

Before Applying, Choose a Good Mentor

Before you apply for an NIAID fellowship or mentored career development award, you’ll need to find a principal investigator (PI) to serve as your mentor throughout the project.

Choosing one is among the most important decisions you'll make in your research career, so it's worth careful thought.

In evaluating your application, peer reviewers will assess the quality of your mentor, as well as your CV and research program. After award, you'll need NIAID's approval before you can switch your grant to another lab.

For guidance on selecting a mentor, go to Know What to Look for When Choosing a Mentor.

Additional Resources

Applying for a Grant

Though this site gives you helpful guidance and information, read the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) carefully before applying. FOAs spell out requirements in greater detail than we provide. Many applications fail to obtain funding because investigators haven't complied with instructions.

Submit your application electronically, and follow the page limits in the FOA and SF 424 Application Guide.

For general help with application writing, see Strategy for NIH Funding. For advice on a particular award type, see our sections on Fellowships, Career Development Awards, Research Supplements, and Institutional Research Training Grants. Physician-scientists interested in a mentored K award should read Advice on Mentored Career Development Awards.

Review Your Application for Required Elements

Keep these key points in mind:

Fellowships

Fellowships are grants awarded to individual researchers for developing independent research projects while completing training that will advance their careers.

NIAID offers fellowships at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels. Here are brief descriptions of the types of F awards NIAID supports.

  • NRSA Individual Predoctoral M.D./Ph.D. or Other Dual-Doctoral Degree Fellowship (F30)—To qualify, you must be enrolled in a formally combined M.D. and Ph.D., DVM and Ph.D., D.D.S. and Ph.D., or Au.D. and Ph.D. program, and be supervised by a sponsor for the research doctoral component.
  • NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31)—To qualify, you must be at the dissertation research stage of training at the time of award and enrolled in a Ph.D. or equivalent research degree program, a formally combined M.D. and Ph.D. program, or other combined professional/clinical and research doctoral program in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences. 
  • NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31)—To qualify, your institution must certify in a letter that you are from an underrepresented group. See the Fellowship Grants SOP for details. You must be enrolled or accepted into a Ph.D., combined M.D. and Ph.D., or other combined doctorate and research Ph.D. program in biomedical and behavioral sciences or health services research.
  • NRSA Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)—To qualify, you'll need a doctoral degree from an accredited institution. You may request support for training abroad. A detailed justification for the foreign training is required and should include reasons why the facilities, the sponsor, or other aspects of the proposed experience are more appropriate than training in a domestic setting.

Grants are awarded for a maximum number of years as follows:

  • F30—six years
  • F31—three years (for NIAID)
  • F31 Diversity—five years
  • F32—three years

Fellowships are not renewable.

Note the following for each opportunity:

  • Investigators must be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, or permanent residents with a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551) at the time of award. People on temporary or student visas are not eligible.
  • Fellowships require full-time effort, 12 person months a year.

Additional Resources

Applying for a Fellowship

When Are Applications Due?

NIH uses multiple due dates for fellowship applications:

  • F31 Diversity (non-AIDS)—April 13, August 13, and December 13
  • F30, F31 and F32 (non-AIDS)—April 8, August 8, and December 8
  • AIDS and AIDS-related fellowship applications follow standard AIDS due dates: May 7, September 7, and January 7

Submit your application electronically. See the Fellowship Grants SOP for more information.

What Do Fellowships Pay For?

Fellowships provide:

  • Stipends—See PI Salary Cap and Stipends for details.
  • Tuition and fees:
    • F30 and F31—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $16,000 per year; 60 percent up to $21,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
    • F32—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $4,500 per year; 60 percent up to $16,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
  • Institutional allowances, including health insurance:
    • F30 and F31—$4,200 per year at non-federal, public and private, non-profit institutions (domestic and foreign) and $3,100 per year for federal and for-profit institutions.
    • F32—$7,850 per year at non-federal, public and private, non-profit institutions (domestic and foreign) and $6,750 per year for federal and for-profit institutions.

What Are Your Chances of Succeeding?

Find success rates at Success Rates on NIH's RePORT.

For more data and statistics, see NIH's Extramural Training Mechanisms.

Additional Resources

Writing a Fellowship Application

Carefully read the relevant funding opportunity announcement below and the SF 424 Individual Fellowship Application Guide to learn what your electronic application should include.

Be sure to request at least three (but no more than five) reference letters. Since they must be submitted by your application's due date, make sure the people you ask to write letters can meet the deadline.

See our Fellowship Grants SOP for more information and read the Reference Letter Instructions in the SF 424 Application Guide for detailed instructions, including information you should give to people writing your letters.

Keep in mind that you must comply with NIH's public access policy, which includes citing papers from NIH-funded research in your application. See our Public Access of Publications SOP for more information.

Sending Materials Post-Submission

You may send certain materials after you have submitted your application and before initial peer review. For fellowships, this includes a one-page summary to update your sponsor's funding information.

For other items you can send in, see If You Need to Send Late Materials After Submitting in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Also check Fellowship (F), Career Development (K) and Training Grant (T) Applications in NIH's Frequently Asked Questions on the post-submission materials policy.

Initial Peer Review

The NIH Center for Scientific Review will peer review your application. Fellowship applications are assigned to review groups based on scientific content, then clustered for review by activity code. This clustering is also used for streamlining, a process that allows reviewers more time to discuss applications likely to be supported.

In evaluating your application, reviewers gauge the likelihood the fellowship will enhance your potential for and commitment to a productive research career. For postdocs, they also assess whether you have what it takes to be an independent researcher.

To learn how peer reviewers determine an application's merit, read the Application Guide. To see the review guidelines they follow for each type of fellowship, go to the F Awards (Fellowship)—-Guidelines and Fill-able Templates section of Guidelines and Fill-able Templates for Reviewers.

For an overview of the peer review process, read Part 5. Assignment and Review in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Promote Your Research Plan

Your Research Plan may be the most important part of your fellowship application. Your plan must communicate:

  • Clarity, completeness, and coherence.
  • Originality, significance, and practicality of goals.
  • A clear description of the research skills and knowledge you want to acquire, and your plan's potential for meeting these objectives.
  • Potential of training to serve as a foundation for your health sciences career (for predoctoral investigators) or to advance your career as an independent researcher (for postdoctoral investigators).
  • Plans to include a diverse human subjects population including women and minorities.
  • Plans to include animals as test subjects, if applicable.
  • Plans to obtain training in ethical research conduct.

Regarding the research, start with a hypothesis, then ask yourself: can I develop Specific Aims based on this hypothesis, as well as experiments to either prove or disprove it? When thinking about your Specific Aims, be careful not to propose too much since you'll have a limited time to accomplish your aims.

You may want to address some key aspects. Is your research of high scientific quality, commensurate with your level of experience, and something you're able to handle? Also, explain for reviewers the part you'll have in your mentor's research. For example, if you're working on a Specific Aim of his or her R01 grant, describe for reviewers what you, versus your mentor, will be doing.

Though having a strong plan is critical, reviewers have different expectations for predoctoral candidates than they do for postdocs, and will look at whether the plan fits the applicant's level of research experience. For predocs who generally have little or no experience, reviewers won't expect as sophisticated a plan as they would for postdocs who are working towards independence.

Review Your Plan

Ask your sponsor to review your Research Plan for thoroughness, consistency, and effective presentation of valid and original goals. You may also want others, e.g., colleagues, to read your plan and provide feedback.

Make sure you've included required elements. For example, you must include a plan for instruction in responsible research conduct. If you leave it out, your application will be considered incomplete and won't be reviewed until you provide an acceptable plan of instruction. Read the Responsible Conduct of Research: Training SOP for more information.

The worst thing peer reviewers can say about your application is: "I can't believe that the investigator's mentor read this." Reviewers will forgive minor omissions but not major ones. Even too many minor omissions will add up and hurt your overall impact/priority score.

Additional Application Tips 

Here are some general tips to help you prepare a strong application.

Talk About Yourself

To convince reviewers that you deserve a fellowship award, write clearly about your experience and qualifications.

In the Personal Statement section of your biosketch, describe your level of research experience, passion for research, strengths, and weaknesses. Show how you plan to bolster those weaknesses, such as taking courses or engaging in other activities, like submitting papers, giving scientific presentations at local or national conferences. You may also want to point out that you maintain a level of interest in your field through other related training and work experience.

Also highlight any publications you have (especially if you're applying for an F31), since reviewers will be on the lookout. Perhaps most importantly, tell them what you hope to gain from a fellowship, i.e., what added value it would give your career, as opposed to conducting research under your mentor's grant.

Read What Others Write

Your sponsor and co-sponsor (if any) will have to complete part of your application. Be sure to read what they write about the research plan, your qualifications and career goals, so the information that both you and they provide works well together. You certainly don't want reviewers to find discrepancies.

You may also want to read letters from collaborators and the letter of commitment your institution provides.

Organize, Organize, Organize

Make it easy on your reviewers to read through your application by writing a well-organized one. Use headers, charts, graphs, and other elements that will make your application appealing and user friendly. For more on this, read Master the Application in Part 3 of the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Advice for Predoctoral Fellowship Candidates

Make sure your Research Plan presents:

  • A thorough grounding in the design, methodology, and analysis of a research protocol.
  • Research stages, including proposal, execution, presentation, and publication.
  • Problem solving.
  • Opportunities to interact with other members of the scientific community.

Peer reviewers will consider your academic record, which can be bolstered or undermined by your other credentials. Although there's no cutoff for acceptable grades and test scores, you should highlight your academic prowess. Ideally, you'll document previous research projects at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Applications for predoctoral fellowships do best at review when the candidate has performed research in a lab for at least a year or two. Investigators with this level of experience can write a state-of-the-art Research Plan. Investigators who haven't yet selected a lab cannot match the knowledge gained from research experience.

Submitting Your Fellowship Forms, Contacting NIAID

Submit your NRSA forms for activation, payback, and termination as follows.

Online With xTrain

You can submit termination forms through the xTrain module in the eRA Commons.

If you don't have an eRA Commons account, learn how to get one at Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

You should also review instructions and training resources on the xTrain Web site.

Note: You may download and print payback agreements from xTrain, but you will need to send us an original, signed agreement. See the next section for more information.

On the Paper Trail

Submit paper forms for activation and payback using the instructions below. Make sure you have the latest Training Forms.

Activation Notices and Payback Agreements

For the initial year of NRSA postdoctoral (F32) support, you must mail your activation notice and an original, signed payback agreement to:

Laura Pone
Grants Management Program
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
6700B Rockledge Drive, Room 2240
Bethesda, MD 20892-7614
Express Mail: Bethesda, MD 20817

Contact NIAID

For general grants management questions about fellowships, contact Laura Pone.

For all other questions, contact the appropriate staff member below:

F30

F31General (non-diversity)

F31Diversity
Diane Adger-Johnson

F32
Dr. Katrin Eichelberg

Additional Resources

Career Development Awards

NIAID offers the following career development awards, which enable scientists with diverse backgrounds to enhance their careers in biomedical research. Mentored K awards can also have positive effects on your publication record and subsequent receipt of NIH grants.

To help you decide which award best suits your needs, see Support by Career Stage—Ph.D. Track and Support by Career Stage—M.D. Track.

Keep in mind that except for the K99/R00, all K awards require either U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status (Alien Registration Receipt Card, Form I-551). People on temporary or student visas are not eligible.

  • Research Scientist Development Award (K01)—To qualify, you must have a research or health-professional doctoral degree, and your research development plans must be in epidemiology, modeling techniques, and outcomes research.
  • Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08)—To qualify, you'll need current work in biomedical or behavioral research, including translational research, a clinical doctoral degree such as M.D., D.V.M., or O.D., and a professional license to practice in the United States.
  • NIAID Career Transition Award (K22)—You must be a postdoctoral scientist with no more than five years of research experience with plans to apply for an assistant professorship at an academic institution. See Advice for Applicants for more information.
  • Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)—You're eligible if you have a clinical doctorate, completed specialty or subspecialty training, and perform research that requires direct work with patients.
  • Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24)—To qualify, you must be an established clinician or Ph.D. who is committed to patient-oriented research and has concurrent research support, such as R01, clinical trial or pharmaceutical company funding, or the equivalent. You should have completed clinical training within the past 15 years, although NIAID allows some flexibility on this requirement.
  • Mentored Quantitative Research Development Award (K25)—You should be a junior faculty member with an advanced degree in engineering or quantitative science, such as Ph.D. or M.S.E.E. Former principal investigators on NIH research projects or subprojects and previous recipients of certain awards are not eligible; see the program announcement for a complete list of exclusions.
  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)—To qualify, you must have a clinical or research doctorate and no more than five years of postdoctoral research training at the time of application. Note: starting with the February 12, 2014, receipt date, the five-year maximum will be reduced to four years. For further details, including how this change affects resubmissions, see our Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent U.S. resident. Since we fund very few K99/R00 awards, consider applying for a K22 if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If not, contact AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov for advice before applying.

During the last two years of a mentored career development award (K01, K08, K23, K25), NIH will permit you to receive concurrent salary support from any peer-reviewed grant from any federal agency, if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a PI on a competing research project grant, or director of a subproject on a multi-component grant, from NIH or another Federal agency.
  • Your K award is active.

Under those circumstances, you may reduce your K award's time and effort to six person months.

Additional Resources

Understanding Award Specifics

Before applying for an NIAID career development award, review the levels of support, funding periods, and effort requirements to ensure that the award will meet your needs. Other NIH institutes may offer different levels of support.

What Do Career Development Awards Pay For?

All NIAID career development awards include fringe benefits. Awards provide:

  • Maximum salary—$75,000 for K01, K25, and K99/R00; $90,000 for K08 and K23; for K24s, salary is based on full-time institutional salary up to the current NIH salary cap multiplied by the percentage of effort plus fringe benefits.
  • Maximum research support—$20,000 for K25; $25,000 for K01 and K99; $50,000 for K08, K23, and K24.
  • Direct costs—K22s provide $150,000 in the first year and $100,000 in the second year. Up to $50,000 of the award can be devoted to the PI's salary each year; the rest can be spent in any way.

See Quick Facts on Research Training and Career Development Awards for more information.

What is the Funding Duration?

Career development funding provides support for:

  • K01, K08, K23, K24, K25—Three to five years. Junior applicants generally get five years of support; more senior-level applicants, three years.
  • K22—Two years.
  • K99—NIAID awards for one year.

Are K Awards Renewable?

Except for K24s, K awards are not renewable. NIAID expects K awardees to move on to independent research support, such as an R01. Therefore, for competing research applications, NIH policy allows award recipients in the last two years of their support period to hold concurrent support from their career award and a competing research grant. For more information about concurrent support, go to Career Development Awards.

You can renew a K24 award once if you continue to have independent peer-reviewed, patient-oriented research support when you submit the competing renewal application. Also, you may apply for a renewal even if you were promoted to full professor during the time of your initial award.

If you request a renewal, you must meet the original award's remaining requirements.

What Minimum Effort Requirements Apply?

K01, K08, K22, K23, K25, and K99 awards require a minimum effort of nine person months, meaning that you must devote 75 percent of your professional time to the funded project. Although you can use the other three person months for clinical and other duties, non-governmental funds must pay for that time. K24s require three to six person months' effort.

Most Ks require you to spend a minimum amount of your full-time effort, generally nine person months, on the research supported by the award and have a full-time appointment at the organization applying for the grant. You can now meet the effort requirement with your full-time position while simultaneously holding another position part-time.

Changes to Appointment and Percent Effort

For valid reasons, such as personal or family situations, you may change your appointment to part-time or reduce your percent effort. Both need NIAID's approval.

For more information on these and other adjustments you can request, see the Career Development Grants SOP.

Additional Resources

Applying for a Career Development Award

Submit your application electronically, following the instructions in the relevant funding opportunity announcement below and the supplemental instructions for K applications in the SF 424 Application Guide.

AIDS and non-AIDS applications have different due dates. See the Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.

Except for the K99/R00 award, you must be a U.S. citizen or have a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551). If you're a non-citizen who has applied for an I-551 and expect to receive it by the earliest award date, you may apply. If you have a student visa or other temporary visa, you're not eligible.

Sending Materials Post-Submission

You may send certain materials after you have submitted your application and before initial peer review. To learn which items you can send in, see If You Need to Send Late Materials After Submitting in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Also check Fellowship (F), Career Development (K) and Training Grant (T) Applications in NIH's Frequently Asked Questions on the post-submission materials policy.

What Are Your Chances of Succeeding?

Find success rates for each K award at Success Rates on NIH's RePORT.

Find more data and statistics at NIH's Extramural Training Mechanisms.

Additional Resources

Advice for Applicants

The career development award category is broad, and special rules may apply for your award. Read the program announcement carefully, and consider the following advice as you prepare your application.

K01

  • Apply only if you are doing research in the fields of epidemiology and outcomes research.
  • If you are junior in terms of your research career, you are still eligible for this award.

K08 and K23

  • You'll need a strong CV, including an outstanding academic record and letters of recommendation. Spend time developing a state-of-the-art Research Plan and show that you have strong institutional commitment, such as a promised faculty appointment after your award term.
  • When choosing your mentor, select a top-notch scientist with superior funding, robust publication history, and the time and interest to mentor you. Ask your mentor to read and edit your application.
  • If you have a substantial publication record in the field and are at the assistant professor level, you may want to consider applying for an R01 instead. Read What's an R01 in our New Investigator Guide to Funding to learn more about this option, and if you're interested, get more information in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
  • For additional advice, read Advice on Mentored Career Development Awards.

K22

  • In the first phase of the application process, submit a CV that details your career goals, a Research Plan, and three recommendations.
  • Within a year of receiving a fundable score, you must obtain an offer of an assistant professorship at an academic institution. Just having the K22 can help with this—it shows you can already get NIAID funding on your own.
  • To qualify for the second phase, you'll need to show that your position offers an assistant professorship, your own laboratory, significant start-up funds, and minimal teaching or other responsibilities.

K24

  • Apply if you want to mentor or teach young scientists engaged in clinical research.
  • Your application should include 75 percent science and 25 percent mentoring, teaching, and career development. Clearly explain why you want this additional funding and describe your plans to mentor or sponsor junior researchers.

K25

  • Reviewers expect less detail in your Research Plan because most K25 applicants aren't highly experienced researchers.

K99/R00

  • Keep in mind that NIAID gives preference to applicants requesting three years of support—one year for the K99 and two for the R00—instead of the five years that NIH allows. Also note that we make very few awards.
  • Include in your application a career development plan, Research Plan with a description of the project you will pursue in the R00 phase, and at least three letters of reference.
  • During the initial mentored (K99) phase, you must secure a tenure-track, full-time assistant professor position at an academic institution.
  • To qualify for the independent investigator (R00) phase, your division or department chair will need to submit a letter demonstrating the institution's commitment to you by providing protected research time, space, facilities, and support needed to conduct the proposed research.
  • For more information, see our Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP.

Additional Resources

Writing a Career Development Award Application

Before jumping in to write your application, carefully read the relevant funding opportunity announcement and follow the supplemental instructions for K applications in the SF 424 Application Guide, including guidelines for page limits.

NIAID will peer review your application. For an overview of the peer review process and to learn about review criteria so you can create a strong application, read Part 5. Assignment and Review in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Address Peer Review Criteria

Peer reviewers will assess your potential based on your CV, research and career plans, and, except for K24, reference letters. Make sure your CV highlights your past successes, and your research and career plans illustrate your commitment and potential for future contributions.

Your reference letters should come from people who are familiar with your qualifications, training, and interest. For further details, including how letters should be submitted and by when, see our Career Development Grants SOP or read the supplemental instructions for K applications in the SF 424 Application Guide.

Reviewers will evaluate the institution where the proposed research will be conducted. They'll consider whether your institution has suitable facilities and is committed to your development as an investigator.

For mentored positions, reviewers will assess your mentor's career and research supervision record, and whether his or her work and experience are relevant to your proposed Research Plan.

Read the relevant funding opportunity announcement for specific peer review criteria. To see the guidelines reviewers follow for each type of career development award, go to the K Awards (Career Development)—Guidelines and Fill-able Templates section of Guidelines and Fill-able Templates for Reviewers.

Align your career development plan to your professional goals.

A great program and stellar academic record help, but to get the best score, you need to show reviewers that you can establish a research career.

Your career development plan is as important as your Research Plan, so spend a lot of time and effort on developing it. Be sure to:

  • Justify your need for a K award and explain how it will be a vital step toward your ultimate career goal and move you toward scientific independence.
  • Specify training and courses that you will participate in, how often you'll meet with consultants, and how all of this will help you reach your objectives.
  • Stress your commitment to a career in biomedical or behavioral research (for a K08 or K22), patient-oriented research (K23 and K24), or integration of biomedicine and quantitative science (K25).

Read the relevant FOA for other elements you should include in the career development plan.

Design Your Research Plan Carefully

Reviewers will look closely at your Research Plan, which has two parts: Specific Aims and Research Strategy. They will evaluate whether it is appropriate for and tailored to your experience level and if it allows you to develop the skills and knowledge needed for further career advancement.

Your Research Plan needs to demonstrate innovation, address potential limitations, and indicate the skills you will gain during the course of your research.

Make sure you relate the proposed research to your scientific career goals, and you are able to achieve your objectives in the time you request.

For help writing your Research Plan, read Strategy to Write the Research Plan in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Learn more about innovation in Be Innovative, But Be Wary and Innovation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.  

Adhere to NIH's Public Access Policy

As part of NIH's public access policy, you must list PubMed Central (PMC) identification numbers when citing a peer-reviewed journal article you have authored or coauthored and that resulted from an NIH-funded award. See our Public Access of Publications SOP for more information.

In the Bibliography and References Cited section of the Research Plan, provide a bibliography of any references cited in the Project Summary and Relevance section on Form Page 2. Also list all publications in the Biographical Sketch.

Document Training on Responsible Conduct of Research

Make sure you've included a plan for instruction in responsible research conduct. If you fail to include one, your application will be considered incomplete and won't be reviewed until you provide an acceptable plan of instruction.

Read the Responsible Conduct of Research: Training SOP for more information.

Progress Reports for Career Development Awards

Every year, you'll need to submit a progress report to continue NIH support of your career development award. Remember to do the following:

  • Check the guidelines for your award to determine if you should complete biographical sketches for new key personnel and other significant contributors.
  • Include other support for the career award recipient, mentor, cosponsors, and key personnel only if the support has changed since the previous submission.
  • Describe courses and other activities that enhanced your research skills.
  • Describe activities other than research and training in the past year.
  • Note activities planned for the next year.
  • If you have a mentored career development award—K01, K08, K23, or K25—include a Mentor's Report. Your mentor's comments help your program officer determine whether NIAID should continue your funding. Give your mentor plenty of time to write feedback on your performance, and make sure he or she signs the report.

We need to get your progress report on time—late or sending incomplete reports could delay your award.

For more information about progress reporting, read Understand the Annual Progress Report in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Contact NIAID With Questions on Career Development Awards

If you have questions about our career development programs, contact AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.

For general grants management questions about K awards, contact Chernay Mason.

Additional Resources

Research Supplements

Unlike other training and career awards, research supplements are not grants. Supplements are funds added to an existing grant to increase the participation of scientists from underrepresented groups in biomedical research. They also help promising researchers return to a scientific career.

Any principal investigator with at least two years remaining on a grant can apply for this supplementary funding, which he or she uses to pay salary, fringe benefits, and research support.

People ranging from high school students through senior faculty members who are members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, have physical or mental disabilities, or have taken a career hiatus (between one and eight years) for family obligations are eligible to be hired through a research supplement. Anyone interested should talk to an NIAID-supported PI.

The following grants are eligible for supplements:

  • Research project grants—R00, R01 (or RL1), R10, R18, R22, R24, R35, R37
  • Multiproject grants—P01 (or PL1), P20, P30, P40, P41, P50, P51, P60
  • Small business awards—R41, R42, R43, R44
  • Cooperative agreements—U01 (or UL1), U10, U19, U41, U42, U54
  • Director's awards—DP1, DP2

To get an email alert when we post new supplement opportunities, learn how to sign up at NIAID Email Alerts Subscription Center and pick Research Supplements as a topic of interest.

Check the links below for specific eligibility requirements and contact your NIAID program officer with questions about your grant.

Additional Resources

What Do Research Supplements Pay For?

The amount of financial support provided by NIAID research supplements depends on the career level of the person receiving the support.

  • High school students and undergraduates—Your institution's regular hourly rate for high school or undergraduate employees, plus $125 per year for supplies.
  • Graduate students—Stipend, fringe benefits, up to $5,000 per year for supplies (with justification), $1,500 for travel, 100 percent of tuition up to $3,000 and 60 percent above $3,000.
  • Postdocs—Stipend, fringe benefits, up to $5,000 for supplies (with justification), and $1,500 for travel.
  • People reentering a scientific career—Your institution's regular level of salary and fringe benefits, up to $5,000 supplies (with justification), and $1,500 for travel.

For people with disabilities, NIAID also provides reasonable accommodation costs.

Additional Resources

Applying for a Research Supplement

NIAID has no firm deadline for research supplement applications. Check with NIAID about "soft" deadlines that may affect your application, e.g., if you are seeking an award before the end of a fiscal year. For details, go to Research Supplements.

NIAID senior staff will peer review your application. You'll want to emphasize certain factors in a research supplement application. Begin by detailing the research candidate's qualifications. Career goals, previous training and work experience, and (for students) educational achievement should emphasize the candidate's high potential in the field of health-related research.

Describe how the research experience will enhance the candidate's skills and knowledge and help him or her achieve career goals. For reentry supplements, candidates should show recent effort to reenter the scientific community, such as reading scientific journals. You should also show that the work will be integral to the project, and illustrate how proposed research and career development activities are relevant to the subject matter of the parent grant. Include a proposed mentoring plan in your application.

Contact NIAID With Research Supplement Questions

If you have questions about NIAID research supplements, contact:

Raushanah Newman
AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov
301-451-2691

Institutional Research Training Grants

National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) and Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35) provide domestic, nonprofit, and private or public graduate-level academic institutions with funds for training predoctoral and postdoctoral candidates.

Senior investigators who head research or training programs at an institution generally apply for these grants. Trainee-level investigators should contact their institution about training opportunities.

Trainees must be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, or permanent residents with a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551). People on temporary or student visas are not eligible.

How Long Does Support Last?

NIAID awards T32s for five years, with the chance to renew. We make awards annually, with further support contingent on performance and funding availability.

Trainee appointments are usually in one-year increments; new appointments must be at least nine months except when we've approved a short-term training position. A trainee can remain in a program for a maximum of five years for predoctoral trainees; three years for postdoctoral trainees.

For more details, see the trainee appointments section of T32 and T35 Training Grants—Key Administrative Information.

T35s may be awarded for periods up to five years and are renewable. Trainees must pursue research training for two to three months on a full-time basis, devoting at least 40 hours per week to the program.

What Do Training Funds Pay For?

T32 and T35 grants provide funds for:

  • Stipends—See NRSA Stipend Levels for details.
  • Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified total direct costs. State and local government agencies may request full reimbursement.
  • Tuition and fees:
    • Predoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $16,000 per year; 60 percent up to $21,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
    • Postdoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $4,500.
  • Trainee travel, including attendance at vital scientific meetings. We do not set a limit on how much you can request, though the norm is $1,000 for each trainee.
  • Training-related expenses—including administrative support, health insurance, and research supplies—of $4,200 a year per predoctoral trainee and $7,850 a year per postdoctoral trainee.
  • On a case-by-case basis, institutional costs for accommodating disabled trainees in addition to usual costs paid by training-related expenses.

Note on effort requirement: Trainee appointments require full-time effort, 12 person months a year.

Additional Resources

Qualifying for a Training Grant

A successful institutional candidate for a training grant must provide an outstanding research and academic environment, with suitable staff and facilities.

The institution's proposed training program director must be an established, well-recognized scientist, generally with the rank of professor or equivalent, who offers a long training track record.

Another key element is a critical mass of fairly senior scientists in the research area who can demonstrate a publications history and funding from NIH, NSF, HHMI, or similar agencies. Too many junior scientists or those without grants may negatively influence the overall impact/priority score and chances of funding.

Peer reviewers consider the records of past trainees or graduates, who should demonstrate strong academic ability. Programs that accept students with less-than-stellar GRE scores, for instance, fare worse in peer review than a program with strict admissions criteria.

Successful applicant institutions offer a track record of past trainees who publish, obtain funding, and enjoy distinguished scientific positions. Reviewers highly rate an adequate supply of high-quality potential trainees with genuine interest in research and appropriate academic prerequisites.

See the previous section, Institutional Research Training Grants, for information on citizenship requirements for trainees.

To learn more about training grant requirements, read the T32 and T35 funding opportunity announcements:

What Are Your Chances of Succeeding?

Find success rates for T32s and T35s at Success Rates on NIH's RePORT.

For more data and statistics, go to NIH's Extramural Training Mechanisms.

Additional Resources

Writing a Training Grant Application

Before you begin writing your application, carefully read the relevant funding opportunity announcement below and follow the supplemental instructions for T applications in the SF 424 Application Guide, including guidelines for page limits and items allowed for the Appendix.

Successful training grant applications require different elements than do R01s. You must convince peer reviewers of your program's value by showing evidence of exceptional faculty commitment, resources, program design, training environment, and ability to recruit quality candidates. You should err on the side of self-promotion, rather than leaving out information that could help your case.

In assigning an application's overall impact/priority score, reviewers will address and consider the following five criteria:

  • Training Program and Environment
  • Training Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI)
  • Preceptors/Mentors
  • Trainees
  • Training Record

For more detail on these criteria, see the Institutional Research Training Grants (T32) funding opportunity announcement.

To see the guidelines reviewers follow for each type of training grant, go to the T Awards (Training)—-Guidelines and Fill-able Templates section of Guidelines and Fill-able Templates for Reviewers.

Demonstrate Quality Program Design

Reviewers will assess the quality of your training program. They'll expect clear objectives and a thorough program design that shows your foresight, competence, and understanding of what a research program entails. Specify the features of the program, special seminar series, and postdoc rotations.

Training grants pay mostly for trainees, so you'll need evidence of a committed faculty, courses, and high-quality, readily available facilities and resources. You'll also need a trainee pool with the academic credentials to become distinguished researchers. Describe in detail your selection critera for trainees.

Showcase Your Successes

Discuss the accomplishments of your former trainees, such as grants or fellowships awarded, other training appointments, promotion to scientific positions, publications, or patents received.

Ideally, your program produces many solid researchers who remain in their field. If not, other program strengths can compensate for some weaknesses in past trainees, especially if your program is relatively new.

Plan for Recruiting Trainees From Underrepresented Groups

Your application must include program-specific plans for recruiting trainees from underrepresented groups; general institution plans aren't sufficient.

Document your program's previous recruitment efforts among underrepresented groups, including successful and unsuccessful strategies. The best plans include personal recruitment efforts by the program director or faculty.

Include statistics on your program's current distribution of students from underrepresented groups who applied for admission or a position in the department relevant to the training grant, were offered admission or a position, enrolled in an academic program, or were appointed to the research training grant.

For more information, see NIH's Frequently Asked Questions: Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity.

Document Training on Responsible Conduct of Research

Your application must include a plan to offer trainees Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. If you fail to include one, your application will be considered incomplete and won't be reviewed until you provide an acceptable plan of instruction. Read the Responsible Conduct of Research: Training SOP for more information.

NIH requires additional training documentation for human subjects research. See Document Training in the Protection of Human Subjects in the NIAID Human Subjects Application and Grant Handbook.

Comply With NIH's Public Access Policy

Be sure to follow NIH's public access policy, which includes citing peer-reviewed journal article you have authored or coauthored and that resulted from an NIH-funded award. See the Public Access of Publications SOP for details.

List your publications in the Biographical Sketch. Put publications by predoctoral trainees in Table 6A and those by postdoctoral trainees in Table 6B.

Additional Resources

Applying for a Training Grant

Submit your application electronically, following the instructions in your funding opportunity announcement and the supplemental instructions for T applications in the SF 424 Application Guide.

NIAID accepts training grant applications only on September 25 for non-AIDS and January 7 for AIDS-related applications, an exception to NIH's regular schedule of three annual receipt dates. Other ICs may have different due dates.

After initial peer review in February or March, our advisory Council will review your application in May or June. If you're successful, your award will start July 1 or later.

For an overview of the peer review process and to learn about review criteria so you can create a strong application, read Part 5. Assignment and Review in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Sending Materials Post-Submission

If any of the following information changes after the receipt date, send an update of three pages or less to your scientific review officer by 30 days before the review meeting:

  • Applicant pool
  • Admissions
  • Enrollment
  • Faculty research support
  • Trainee and faculty member promotions and professional achievements, e.g., funding, publications
  • Addition of faculty member involved in training activities

When you send your information, include a note from your business office stating its concurrence or ask your authorized organizational representative to send the information on your behalf.

For more on the post-submission materials policy, go to Fellowship (F), Career Development (K) and Training Grant (T) Applications in NIH's Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional Resources

Submitting Your Training Grant Forms, Contacting NIAID

Use xTrain to submit all forms except payback agreements.

Online With xTrain

To create and submit appointments, re-appointments, amendments, and terminations using xTrain, you must have an eRA Commons account. For information on how to get one, see Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

You should also review instructions and training resources on the xTrain Web site, and the eRA xTrain training Web site.

You may also download and print payback agreements from xTrain, but for postdoc trainees you will need to send us an original, signed agreement. See the next section for more information.

On the Paper Trail

Submit paper forms using the instructions below.

Payback Agreements for Postdoctoral Trainees

For postdoctoral trainees starting their initial appointment on a T32, you must mail an original, signed payback agreement at the time of appointment. Send to:

John Villella
Grants Management Program
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
6700B Rockledge Drive, Room 2226
Bethesda, MD 20892-7614
Express Mail: Bethesda, MD 20817

Contact NIAID

If you have questions about our training grant programs, contact AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.

For grants management questions about training grants, contact John Villella.

Additional Resources

Last Updated May 29, 2014

Last Reviewed April 09, 2014