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Research Continuity and Retention Supplements: Supporting early-career investigators during critical life events

Maria Carranza
Training Officer,
Office of Strategic Extramural Programs (OSEP)

An important part of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in science is helping to ensure that life events and situations don’t disproportionately affect an individual’s ability to build a successful research career. Unfortunately, a promising scientist’s career path may at times be interrupted by life events such as pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, serious illness, or family caregiving responsibilities. NIH understands that providing support for researchers during critical life events advances a more diverse and creative workforce.

The good news is that the NIH Research Continuity and Retention Supplements program is available to help early-career investigators during these crucial life junctures. Read on to learn the latest details.

Eligibility and use

Two Program Director/Principal Investigator categories are eligible for the continuity and retention supplements program:

The supplemental funding provides flexible support within the scope of the parent project. Funds may be used for additional personnel, computational services, supplies and equipment, or other resources needed to sustain the investigator’s research.

Qualifying events

Critical life events that qualify for consideration include high-risk pregnancy; childbirth; adoption; serious personal health issues such as illnesses and/or debilitating conditions; and primary caregiving responsibilities for an ailing spouse, child, partner, parent, or other member of the immediate family. Events related to COVID-19 are generally not considered a qualifying critical life event.

Requests must include a personal statement, a justification for the supplemental support, a plan to return to full productivity at the end of the supplement period, and an institutional letter of commitment with details of the resources made available to the applicant to ensure strong productivity on the parent grant. Applicants must provide evidence that, without the supplement, the circumstance may affect advancement or productivity of the existing award.

Important updates

The notices for these supplements were recently reissued — NOT-OD-23-031 and NOT-OD-23-032 — with a few key updates:

  • Additional eligible critical life event categories were added, including serious personal health issues or illness and/or debilitating conditions, and high-risk pregnancy.
  • Awards using additional activity codes, including R16, R34, and R37, are now eligible.
  • The maximum budget for these supplements was increased from $50,000 to $70,000.

Apply by May 1!

NIA accepts applications on a rolling basis and reviews these in a monthly cycle. If you’re experiencing any of these qualifying life events and hold an active eligible award, apply for support by May 1 to ensure your application is considered prior to Sept. 30.

We hope this supplement program can ease minds, assist families, and maintain momentum for important research during a time of need. Your NIA program official remains your go-to person for questions about individual applications.

For questions on Research Continuity and Retention Supplements policy and eligibility, email The NIA Training and Career Development team is also happy to answer your questions about the full range of NIA training and career development awards.

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