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University of Wisconsin–Madison

NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards (DP5) 2019

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:April 04, 2018
Subject:NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5) 2019 RFA-RM-18-010


Deadline for Internal Review:July 09, 2018

Project Description

The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award provides 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 from post-doctoral training, a small number of outstanding junior investigators would benefit from skipping such training and launching essentially directly into an independent research career. For those select junior investigators who already have established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and who have demonstrated unusual scientific vision and maturity, typical post-doctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into independent research. Also, importantly, the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award provides an opportunity for institutions to invigorate their research programs by bringing in the fresh scientific perspectives of the awardees that they host.

The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award is part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program funded through the NIH Common Fund.  All Common Fund initiatives invite investigators to develop bold, innovative, and often risky approaches to address major problems that are especially daunting or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress.

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
Number of Awards:  The NIH Common Fund intends to commit approximately $4,000,000 to support approximately 10 awards in FY 2019, contingent upon availability of funds and receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.


To be eligible, the investigator, at the time of application, must have received the most recent doctoral degree or completed clinical training within the previous fifteen months or expect to do so within the following twelve months. To be consistent with the updated NIH definition of Early Stage Investigators, eligible clinical training includes clinical residency and clinical fellowship. For full eligibility requirements, see Section III. Eligibility Information. By the end of the award period, the Early Independence Award investigator is expected to be competitive for continued funding of his/her research program through other NIH funding activities and for a permanent research-oriented position.

The NIH recognizes a compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences research workforce. The NIH expects its efforts towards diversifying the workforce to lead to the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups; to improve the quality of the educational and training environment; to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols; and to improve the Nation’s capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.  Applicant institutions are always encouraged to consider talented researchers from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities, and women for participation in all NIH-funded research opportunities.

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

Letters of Intent are due to NIH by August 27, 2018. Applications are due to NIH by September 27, 2018.