News Release

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NIH Announces More Than 50 Awards in the Pathway to Independence Program

Five-Year Grants Foster Transition to Research Independence.

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, today named 58 recipients of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award.

The Pathway to Independence Program, announced in January of this year, offers a new opportunity for promising postdoctoral scientists to receive both mentored and independent research support from the same award.

"New investigators provide energy, enthusiasm, and ideas that propel the scientific enterprise towards greater discovery and push forward the frontiers of medical research," Dr. Zerhouni said. "We hope that the Pathway to Independence is a bridge that will support new investigators at precisely the point between mentoring and independence that we have seen as a most vulnerable time in the career path. We must invest in the future of our new scientists today if we expect to meet the nation's health challenges of tomorrow."

This announcement is the first of three rounds of awards to be made this fiscal year, with several additional awards from this round to be made in early January. NIH has received almost 900 applications and will issue between 150 and 200 awards for this program this year. Furthermore, NIH 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. All NIH Institutes and Centers are participating in this award program. The Pathway to Independence Awards are a major piece of a larger, ongoing NIH effort to support new scientists as they transition to research independence, and supplements efforts being made at individual Institutes and Centers.

The awardees will receive the following: 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.

Pathway to Independence Awardees plan to pursue new research directions and opportunities in a range of scientific areas, from basic research on cell biology and development of the nervous system to research focused on Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

NIH is fully committed to monitoring and adapting this pilot program, when necessary, ensuring that it provides an opportunity for new, creative scientists to accelerate their transition from research dependence to research independence. Clinician-scientists will now find this mechanism increasingly attractive because the individual Institutes and Centers have the flexibility to increase the salary for the mentored phase of the award in a way that is competitive with other training mechanisms. NIH is planning an evaluation of this program, and some Institutes and Centers are considering expanding the program if it proves successful at meeting the needs of their research communities.

"In today's challenging budget environment, it is critical that NIH preserve the ability of young scientists with fresh ideas to enter the competitive world of NIH funding," said Zerhouni. "Nothing is more important."

For more information about the NIH Pathway to Independence Program, visit

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

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 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. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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