|NIH Announces Program to Foster the Independence of New Investigators
National Institutes of Health Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
announced today the NIH Pathway to Independence Award program.
The program features a new opportunity for promising postdoctoral
scientists to receive both mentored and independent research support
from the same award.
“Encouraging independent inquiry by promising new investigators
is a major goal for NIH,” Dr. Zerhouni said. “We must
invest in the future of our new scientists today if we expect to
meet the nation’s health challenges of tomorrow. New investigators
who successfully cross the bridge from research dependence to research
independence bring fresh ideas and innovative perspectives to the
research enterprise, which are critical to sustaining our ability
to push forward the frontiers of medical research.”
The program is also responsive to the major recommendations of
a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report issued in 2005 entitled, “Bridges
to Independence.” The NAS report called for new ways to mentor
and support early career scientific investigators from their post-doctoral
studies to running their own research programs.
NIH will issue between
150 and 200 awards for this program in its initial year, beginning
in Fall 2006. The agency expects to
issue the same number of awards each of the following five years.
During this time, the NIH will provide almost $400 million in
support of the program. This award is a major piece of a larger,
NIH effort to support new scientists as they transition to research
independence. All NIH Institutes and Centers are participating
in this award program.
The award will work as follows: The initial 1-2 year mentored
phase will allow investigators to complete their supervised research
work, publish results, and search for an independent research position.
The second, independent phase, years 3-5, will allow awardees who
secure an assistant professorship, or equivalent position, to establish
their own research program and successfully apply for an NIH Investigator-Initiated
(R01) grant. The R01 is the major means by which NIH supports individual
scientists in the field.
“This award program is a major step toward fostering the
early independence of new investigators, a key to innovation and
creativity,” Dr. Zerhouni continued. “We must take
action now to maintain the tremendous momentum that we’ve
experienced in science. Talented people with new ideas are at the
core of our success — we must support them all the way. Nothing
is more important, especially in times of tight budgets.”
For more information about the NIH Pathway to Independence program
A Backgrounder is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/backgrounder.htm.
A list of Questions and Answers is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/QsandAs.htm.
The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is
a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational
medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments,
and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs,