NIH: Director's Early Independence Award

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.

Number of Applications
Amount of Funding

$250,000 per year, in direct costs, for a five-year period


Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Associate Deans for Research prior to internal submission to assure they meet eligibility criteria and their projects meet stated program objectives.

  • Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.
  • 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. The individual must also not be the PD/PI of an NIH R01 or equivalent grant at the time of award.
  • 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.
  • A PD/PI is permitted only a single application for an Early Independence Award.

Submission Process

Step 1

For consideration as a finalist, investigators should submit the following materials as PDF e-mail attachments to Stephanie Endy at no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 12, 2016:

  1. A one page letter of intent.
  2. A CV.
  3. An NIH-style biosketch.
  4. A letter of support from your chair.
Step 2

Final nominees will be notified of their selection by August 19, 2016.

Step 3

Complete proposals are due in the CWRU Office of Research Administration or SOM Office of Grants and Contracts by September 5, 2016.

Step 4

NIH deadline for Application is September 12, 2016.


Abstract or LOI to ORA Chosen Proposal Announced ORA Final Proposal Due Date Sponsor Submission Deadline Days Until Due
08/12/2016 08/19/2016 09/05/2016 09/12/2016 CLOSED