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Support for Early Stage Investigators

An NIH Early Stage Investigator (ESI) is a Principal Investigator (PI) of a submitted R01 application who has completed his or her terminal research degree or postgraduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years, and who has not previously competed successfully as Program Director/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award. Read about determination of ESI status and current NIH policies regarding ESIs. Note that the ESI designation is applicable only for competing R01 applications. 

The NIDCD has established procedures and funding policies to ensure that adequate numbers of ESIs are supported. Under these policies, ESIs may provide a written response to the comments in the summary statement of a competitive R01 application with a percentile that is outside of, but close to, the funding pay line. This written response is reviewed by NIDCD program staff and the NDCD Advisory Council, and the application is considered for special funding within the same review cycle. In addition, ESI R01 grants that fall within the automatic pay line are generally reduced less than other NIDCD-funded R01s.

PIs who are at the beginning stages of independence and not yet ready to submit an ESI R01 grant may be eligible for the NIDCD Early Career Research (ECR) R21 Award, which provides funding to obtain sufficient preliminary data for a subsequent R01 application.   

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