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Career Development Grants SOP

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.


To support Ph.D.s and clinicians seeking further training in biomedical research.


NIAID supports the following career development (K) grants:

Except for the K99/R00, 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 the award. People on temporary or student visas are not eligible.


  • Submit applications electronically.
    • Use either downloadable forms (be sure to use the latest application forms) or NIH's Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST).
    • Read the supplemental instructions for K awards in the SF 424 Application Guide.
    • For mentored K programs (K01, K08, K23, K25, Parent K99/R00, and PS K99/R00), include an eRA Commons username for your primary mentor, and report it on the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) form, as follows:
      • List the primary mentor under the Profile for Senior/Key Person 1.
      • Insert "Other" or "Other Professional" in the Project Role field, and enter "Mentor" in the Other Project Role Category field.
      • Provide a valid eRA Commons username in the Credential field. If the primary mentor does not have an eRA Commons account, he or she should ask your business office to create one using any role (e.g., Project Personnel, Scientist).
    • If you plan to apply for a K22 and are not affiliated with an organization, read Special Registration Instructions for Unaffiliated/Independent Applicants.
    • Include a plan for instruction in responsible research conduct. Read the Responsible Conduct of Research: Training SOP for more information.
    • Address rigor and reproducibility. Learn more at NIH's Rigor and Reproducibility page.
    • If required, request at least three (but no more than five) reference letters.
      • Those who write letters for you will submit them directly through the eRA Commons at Submit Reference Letter and must do so by your application's due date.
      • For further details, including whether you need reference letters and information you should give to those writing them, read the supplemental instructions for K awards in part 7 of the SF 424 Application Guide.
      • Track the status of submitted reference letters by logging in to your Commons account, clicking the Personal Profile tab then the Reference Letters tab. You can also track the status of reference letters submitted to a specific application by clicking on the application ID number (once a number has been assigned) in the Commons.
  • Keep the following policies in mind:
    • NIAID will not accept K-series applications proposing to conduct independent clinical trials for most of the K awards (K01, K08, K22, K23, K24, K25 and Parent K99) with the exception of the PS K99/R00. For more details see the Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP.
    • NIAID supports K01 awards only in fields of epidemiology, computational modeling techniques, and outcomes research (research that seeks to understand the end results of particular health care practices and interventions) in infectious, immunologic and/or allergic diseases.  A predominance of the Specific Aims proposed must be in these research area(s).
    • K01, K08, K22, K23, K25, and Parent K99 all require at least 75 percent effort (nine-person months) of the professional time devoted to the funded K award.  Effort requirements for the PS K99/R00 differ. For details, see the Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP.
    • Salary Supplementation:  For effort directly committed to the K award (e.g., at least 75 percent effort on a K08) salary supplementation is allowable, but must be from only non-federal sources (including institutional sources). Non-federal or institutional supplementation of salary must not require extra duties or responsibilities that would interfere with the goals of the K award. 

      Salary supplementation applies only to the effort committed to the K award.  NIH provides partial salary for this effort and the institution supplements the NIH salary contribution up to institutional base salary from non-federal or institutional resources.  There is no reduction in effort on the K award for salary supplementation. 
    • Salary Compensation: Is any effort dedicated outside of the K award (for example, at most 25 percent effort on a K08) and is allowable.  This can come from other research, clinical and/or teaching activities and is effort not directly committed to the K award. K recipients may devote effort, with compensation, from federal or non-federal sources as a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) or in another role (e.g., co-investigator), as long as the Specific Aims of the other supporting grant(s) differ from those of the K award.  The K awardee is compensated for effort from other funds.  There is no reduction in effort on the K award for salary compensation. 
    • Concurrent Salary Support: NIH permits K awardees to receive concurrent salary support during the last two years of their K award from any peer reviewed grant from a federal agency.  This requires a reduction in effort on the K award. The following criteria must be met:
      • The K awardee is a PI on a competing research project grant or director of a subproject on a multicomponent grant from NIH or another federal agency.
      • The K award is active.

        Moreover, individual K recipients are allowed to devote complementary effort without salary support on other research grants that include related research between the K award and the research grant. In such cases where there is scientific overlap, the percent effort on the research grant is subsumed within the required effort of the K award. However, there should not be significant duplication of the scope of the research supported by the K award.  Further, the related research must be consistent with the goals and objectives of the K award.
    • NIH's public access policy applies to K grants. Read more at Training and Career Development Grant Programs.
    • NIH allows the following adjustments, which require prior approval from NIAID. Read the January 21, 2009, Guide notice for full details.
      • Part-time appointments and temporary reduction in percent effort—awardees may reduce their appointment to part-time or reduce their effort to less than nine-person months.
        • Investigators may not simultaneously request both options.
        • Requests must contain several items, including a justification for the change, a revised mentoring plan from current mentor, and a revised statement of institutional commitment.
      • Off-site career development and leave of absence—investigators may spend part of their project period at another institution. They may also take a leave of absence without award support.
        • In both cases, being away for less than three months requires the grantee organization's approval; more than three months requires NIAID approval. Time away may not exceed 12 months.

For detailed information on K awards, such as eligibility and award duration, go to Career Development (K) Awards.

Program Officers

  • Complete Program Officer Checklists for competing and noncompeting applications.
  • Work with grants management specialists and applicants or awardees to resolve time and effort issues.
  • Review and approve or disapprove prior approval requests for the following. Note that change of PI is not allowed given the purpose of career awards.
    • Change of sponsor or mentor—assess whether a person has the appropriate scientific background and available time to be the PI's primary sponsor or mentor.
    • Change in scope.
    • Change of institution.
    • Part-time appointments.
    • Percent effort reduction.
    • Off-site career development and leave of absence (three months or more).

Grants Management Specialists

  • Issue awards following requirements of each career grant mechanism.
  • Calculate PI salary the same way you would for research grants. For details, GMP staff can see GMP's Career Awards SOP.
  • Include special terms of award noted on Program Officer Checklists as well as standard terms of award.
  • Work with program officers on prior approval requests and notify grantees of the outcome.
    • For changes to a PI sponsor or mentor, be sure you get the following:
      • A letter signed by the PI, the proposed new sponsor or mentor, and the institutional business official.
      • A copy of the current biosketch and other support for the proposed new sponsor or mentor.
  • For information on the Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00), see the Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP or GMP staff can see the GMP Pathway to Independence (K99-R00) Awards SOP.

For more responsibilities, GMP staff can see the GMP Career Awards SOP.


Office of Research Training and Special Programs

For programmatic or eligibility questions about K grants, email NIAID Research Training Officer Dr. Shawn Gaillard.  

Grants Management Program

For questions specific to funded career development awards, contact the appropriate grants management specialist.

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.


Information about NIH Career Development (K) Grants

NIAID Training and Career Development Grant Programs

NIH Training

NIAID Funding Policy and Process SOP

Quick Facts on Career Development Awards

Content last reviewed on November 21, 2017