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University of Wisconsin–Madison

NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5) 2016

To:Chairs and Administrators; Departments in the Biological and Social Sciences; Associate Deans for Research; College/School Research Administrators
From:Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education
Date:June 01, 2016
Subject:NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5) RFA-RM-16-006


Deadline for Internal Review:June 29, 2016

Project Description

The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award Program supports exceptional investigators who wish to pursue independent research directly after completion of their terminal doctoral/research degree or clinical residency, thereby forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period and accelerating their entry into an independent research career.

The initiative is funded through the NIH Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact. All Common Fund initiatives invite investigators to develop bold, innovative, and often risky approaches to address problems that may seem intractable or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress.

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. 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.

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 position.

Amount per Award: Awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs.
Duration of Award: 5 Years


Time window for eligibility: At the time of application, the individual either 1) within the preceding twelve months must have received a terminal doctoral degree or completed medical residency or 2) within the following twelve months must complete all the requirements for a doctoral degree or complete a medical residency. 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. The time of application is the date when the application is submitted electronically to NIH through 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 one year.

At the time of award to the sponsoring Institution, 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 (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 institution must certify that all degree requirements have been met and that the date of graduation as appearing on the transcript will be within one year of the date of application submission. In addition, the candidate must not already be a PD/PI on an NIH R01 or R01-equivalent award.

Level of effort: Individuals must commit at least 9.6 person-months (80% effort) during the first two years of the project period to research supported by the Early Independence Award. In the final three years of the project period, awardees may reduce effort toward the Early Independence Award, but the total effort towards independent research must still be at least 9.6 person-months (80% effort).

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.

UW-Madison is allowed to submit 2 applications


Internal Competition Application Instructions

Applications for Internal Review

To submit your application, follow this link:

Please include the following information:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Based on the information contained in the NIH FOA, please submit a document of no more than 8 pages summarizing;
    1. Details of the position to which the Early Independence Investigator will be appointed
    2. Specific Aims, Hypotheses and Research Strategy
    3.  Institutional resources commitment (college and/or department levels)
    4.  Institutional career development commitment.  Specify institutional mentors and the role that he/she will play if an Early Independence Award is made.
      Please see Part 2, Section IV, #2 of the FOA for specific details of these sections

Sponsor Deadlines

Applications are due to National Institutes of Health by September 12, 2016.