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Statement of Commitment to New Investigators

New investigators are the innovators of the future - they bring fresh ideas and technologies to existing biomedical research problems, and they pioneer new areas of investigation. Entry of new investigators into the ranks of independent, NIH-funded researchers is essential to the health of this country’s biomedical research enterprise. NIH’s interest in the training and research funding of new investigators is understandably deep and longstanding. Over the years, special programs to assist new investigators in obtaining independent research funding have been created - for example the New Investigator Research Award (NIRA or R23), in 1977, and the First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST or R29) Award, which superceded the NIRA in 1986. Both of these special programs were discontinued because neither was able to significantly and positively affect the overall ability of new investigators to obtain independent research support (see Report of the Working Group on New Investigators). In spite of these and other efforts, the average age at which an investigator first obtains R01 funding has increased by five to six years (PowerPoint - 44 KB) (to 42 for PhD degree holders and 44 for MD and MD/PhD degree holders). In addition, although the overall numbers of new R01 investigators has increased (PowerPoint - 45 KB), the proportion of R01 grants going to new investigators has remained at approximately 6% of the total R01s awarded throughout the doubling of the NIH budget (PowerPoint - 45 KB).

Currently, NIH encourages new investigators to self-identify by checking a box on the face page of their R01 applications so that they can be given special consideration. Peer reviewers are instructed to focus more on the proposed approach than on the track record, and to expect less preliminary data than would be provided by an established investigator. In addition, many NIH institutes and centers give new investigators special consideration in their selection for funding, and in some cases provide five years of support instead of the four that is the NIH average duration for a grant.

We at NIH remain committed to identifying and attracting new independent biomedical researchers and will continue to explore novel ways to accomplish this. However, we cannot do it alone. Institutions - our partners in this venture - must continue to look for ways to reduce the duration of graduate and postdoctoral training and find new ways to enable new investigators to compete successfully for extramural funding. I would welcome your ideas in this regard.

Norka Ruiz Bravo, PhD, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH

History of Commitment to New Investigators

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Definition of New Investigator [Return to Top]   

In general, a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is considered a New Investigator if he/she has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a significant NIH independent research award.  Specifically, a PD/PI is identified as a New Investigator if he/she has not previously competed successfully for an NIH-supported research project other than the following small or early stage research awards:

  • Pathway to Independence Award-Research Phase (R00)
  • Small Grant (R03)
  • Academic Research Enhancement Award (R15)
  • Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21)
  • Clinical Trial Planning Grant (R34)
  • Dissertation Award (R36)
  • Small Business Technology Transfer Grant-Phase I (R41)
  • Small Business Innovation Research Grant-Phase I (R43)
  • Shannon Award (R55)
  • NIH High Priority, Short-Term Project Award (R56)

Additionally, the PD/PI is not excluded from consideration as a “New Investigator” if he/she has received an award from any of the following classes of awards:

Training-Related and Mentored Career Awards

  • Fellowships (F05, F30, F31, F32, F34, F37, F38)
  • Mentored-career awards (K01, K08, K22, K23, K25, K99-R00)
  • Other mentored career awards (developmental K02 as used by NINDS and the developmental K07)
  • Loan repayment contracts (L30, L32, L40, L50, L60)

Please note that current or past recipients of non-mentored career awards that normally require independent research support (K02, K05, K24, and K26) are not considered new investigators.

Instrumentation, Construction, Education, or Meeting Awards

  • G07, G08, G11, G13, G20
  • S10, S15
  • X01, X02
  • R25
  • C06, UC6
  • R13, U13

Note regarding grants with Multiple PD/PIs:  In the case of a grant application that involves more than one PI, all PD/PIs must meet the definition of New Investigator to check “Yes” in the “New Investigator” box.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Definition of New Investigator.

Help with the Application Process [Return to Top]   

NIAID- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

NIGMS- National Institutes of General Medical Sciences

NCI- National Cancer Institute

NEI- National Eye Institute

CSR - Center for Scientific Review

OER - Office of Extramural Research

NIH Institute and Center Policies Related to First-Time Investigator Support [Return to Top]   


FIC - Fogarty International Center

NCI - National Cancer Institute

NEI - National Eye Institute

NHGRI - National Human Genome Research Institute (MS Word - 44.5 KB)

NHLBI - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

NIA - National Institute on Aging

NIAAA - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

NIAID - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
NIBIB - National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

NICHD - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

NIDCD - National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders
NIDCR - National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research NIDDK - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease NIEHS - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIGMS - National Institute of General Medical Sciences

NIMH - National Institute of Mental Health

NINDS - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

NLM - National Library of Medicine  


NIH Resources for Grant Applicants [Return to Top]   

Non-NIH Resources [Return to Top]   
Data on New Investigators [Return to Top]   
Awards for New Investigators [Return to Top]   

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