NIH Director’s Early Independence Award

  • Limited
  • Anywhere
  • Applications have closed

Website National Institutes for Health (NIH)

Funding opportunities for outstanding early career scientists ready for independence


The NIH Director’s Early Independence Award accelerates the entry of exceptional junior investigators (within 15 months after or 12 months before receiving their terminal research degree or completing postgraduate clinical training) into positions of independent research by omitting the traditional postdoctoral training period. The review places a strong emphasis on the qualities of the investigator and the environment provided by the host institution.

The program seeks to identify scientists with high-impact ideas that may be risky or at a stage too early to fare well in the traditional peer review process. The program encourages creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in any area of biomedical, behavioral or social science research relevant to the NIH mission.


The criteria for the award are the following:

  • Single PI only
  • Must complete doctoral degree or clinical training between June 1, 2020 and September 30, 2022
  • Must be in non-independent research position at time of application submission
  • Limit of 2 applications per institution
  • Preliminary data not required
  • Requires 9.6 months of research effort each year for first 2 years
  • Requires 3-5 Letters of Reference
  • $250,000 direct costs per year for up to 5 years

Internal Application Process

UCI may submit no more than two applications to this competition. Therefore, interested applicants are asked to submit a preliminary application to the Office of Research by Monday, June 14, 2021 (via the UCI Review application system), with the following information:

  • Research Plan (no more than 3 pages) which addresses (in summary) the 10 questions listed under “Research Strategy” in the RFA under Section IV.
  • NIH Style Bio sketch
  • Support letter from the Department Chair (or equivalent)
    • Letter should speak to support/commitment for the candidate becoming an independent investigator

If necessary, an ad hoc committee will convene to review the preliminary proposals.  The selected PI(s) will be notified in time to meet NIH’s August 3, 2021 deadline for Letters of Intent (LOI). For more information, please refer to Questions about our internal campus review process may be directed to Michael Gallo at

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