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University of Wisconsin–Madison

NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5)

To:Chairs and Administrators; Departments in the Biological, Physical, and Social Sciences; Associate Deans for Research; College/School Research Administrators
From:Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education
Date:November 04, 2015
Subject:NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5) RFA-RM-15-006


Deadline for Internal Review:November 30, 2015

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 NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards 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


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 fellowship training 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 grantee 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.

UW-Madison is allowed to submit 2 applications


Internal Competition Application Instructions

Applications for Internal Review

To submit your application, follow this link:

• Name, Dept., and Full Contact Information
Department Chair
Date or expected date of terminal degree or medical residency completion
(date of degree is the date listed on official university transcript)

In 3 – 5 pages:

• Describe the position into which the Early Independence Investigator will be appointed and how the candidate’s independence will be ensured during the course of the award.
• A statement summarizing institutional commitment.
• Describe plans for maintaining protected time for the Early Independence Investigator so that he or she will be able to devote at least 9.6 person-months (80% effort) to conducting independent research during the project period, with at least the first two years being devoted entirely to the Early Independence Award project. Clinicians should be permitted to perform clinical duties to the extent necessary to maintain credentials.
• Describe plans for assuring scientific independence. Particularly if the Early Independence Investigator is staying at the same institution at which he or she trained, indicate how independence from previous mentors will be established and maintained.
• Describe career enhancement plans for the Early Independence Investigator. Provide plans for assessing and monitoring the annual progress of the candidate supported by this award. Describe any additional plans for ensuring the success of Early Independence Investigators as productive, independent investigators.
• Describe plans for integrating each Early Independence Investigator into institutional scientific and administrative activities at the institution. Describe the scientific collaborative activities (attendance at faculty meetings, laboratory meetings, participation in Institutional scientific retreats, etc.) and career development resources (courses in laboratory management and grant writing, etc.) that will be available to ensure the Early Independence Investigator is successful. Describe the support from senior colleagues and leadership of the Program that will be available to the Early Independence Investigator.
• The primary goal of each Early Independence Investigator is to establish an independent scientific research program. If Early Independence Investigators have an interest in (limited) teaching, describe what opportunities will be available.
• Describe expectations and opportunities for the Early Independence Investigator to establish a record of independent funding by submitting and accepting grants from sources other than the Early Independence Award.

Sponsor Deadlines

Letters of Intent are due to National Institutes of Health by December 29, 2015. Applications are due to National Institutes of Health by January 29, 2016.