How to determine the best NIA postdoc-to-faculty transition award opportunity
NIA offers several different career development (K) awards for postdocs who intend to transition into a faculty position: the K99, K22, and K01. However, many researchers aren’t aware of all these options or aren’t sure which award would be the best fit.
To help determine the ideal K opportunity for you, we’ve developed a new webpage highlighting our career transition awards and provided some example profiles of postdocs who are good fits for these awards. The next due date for all three award applications is Feb. 12, 2024, so now is a great time to begin preparing a submission.
The K99, K22, and K01 options
The K99/R00 is a widely-recognized postdoc-to-faculty transition award opportunity. This program is designed for postdocs seeking one to two additional years of postdoctoral training before moving into a tenure-track position. Importantly, in addition to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, it is open to international postdocs working in the U.S. However, for the K99/R00, you cannot have more than four years of postdoctoral experience at the time of application, although some extensions to that timeline may be available on a case-by-case basis; see our K99 website for details.
The K22 provides up to three years of research support after the transition from a postdoc to a tenure-track faculty position. You should apply to the K22 while still a postdoc, before you secure a confirmed faculty position. However, you must begin a tenure-track job one to two years after your application in order to activate the K22, since funding is not provided until the faculty position starts. NIA’s K22 allows up to eight years of postdoctoral research experience at the time of application. It is not open to international postdocs.
The K01 is typically a career development award opportunity for faculty members. However, if you’re a postdoc who has already negotiated a faculty position, the K01 might be a good fit as well. The K01 requires that you hold a faculty position by the time of award (versus the time of application), and the position does not need to be tenure track. So, if you’ve been offered a faculty position and are wrapping up your postdoc before starting it, you can go ahead and work with your faculty institution to submit a K01 application.
Alternatively, if you’ve been promoted from a postdoc to a non-tenure track faculty position such as instructor, research assistant professor, or similar position — and you would like to remain in this role while pursuing further mentored career development — you may also be a good fit for the K01. The K01 has no timeline restriction on eligibility, but it is open only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
In summary, the K99 and K22 award opportunities are for postdocs who are still seeking a faculty position, with the major difference between them being that K22 awardees are expected to transition to the eventual faculty position sooner than K99 awardees. In contrast, the K01 award opportunity is for faculty members or postdocs who have already obtained a faculty position.
What if you’re not exactly a postdoc?
To apply for the K99 or K22, you must hold a mentored, non-independent research position. This is typically a postdoc role, but it could also be a position such as staff scientist, research associate, or instructor, as long as you have not yet reached independent investigator status, and are conducting your research in someone else’s laboratory. If this situation applies to you, include a position description as an “Other Attachment” in your application to avoid confusion about your eligibility.
What if you’re still not sure which award opportunity is a best fit?
To reiterate, the next due date for all three of these award opportunities is Feb. 12, 2024, so now is a great time to find the award that aligns best with your situation and begin crafting your application. If you have questions, reach out to me via NIATraining@mail.nih.gov and share a few details about your current position as well as your planned career path, including when you would like to start a faculty position. I will be happy to discuss your options!