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K22 - NIA Career Transition Award

The K22 NIA Career Transition Award (PAR-21-351) supports exceptional postdoctoral researchers as they transition to a tenure-track position. Candidates should apply in the final 1-2 years of their postdoctoral research. Successful candidates will receive an Approval Letter from NIA; candidates then have up to 12 months to secure a tenure-track assistant professor or equivalent position and activate the K22 award. Senior postdoctoral researchers may also wish to consider the REDI entrepreneurial development awards, the K-series Research Career Development Awards, and awards for Early Stage Investigators. K22 awards are open to postdocs conducting research in the United States who will be U.S. citizens or permanent residents by the time of award.

Important Dates

NIH Fellowship Award Cycle
K22 Cycle New Application Due Date Resubmission Due Date Date Initial Review Date Council Review Date Earliest Start Date
1 February 12 March 12 June/July August/October September/December
2 June 12 July 12 October/November January April
3 October 12 November 12 February/March May July

Budget Levels

The K22 award can cover fringe benefits in addition to salary. Research development costs may cover tuition and fees related to career development, research-related expenses, travel to research meetings or trainings, and statistical services.

K22 Budget Levels
Award Component Amount
Salary Up to $100,000
Research and Career Development Costs Up to $50,000
Indirect Costs 8% of modified total direct costs

K22 Eligibility

  • Current position: Non-independent research position in the U.S.
  • Residency: U.S. citizen or permanent resident at time of award.
  • Timing: Greater than 2 but less than 8 years of research experience post-Ph.D. at the time of application.
  • Eligible grants: If you have been an independent PI on a small research grant (R03, R21, or equivalent), you remain eligible for the K22. Please note that NOT-AG-22-002 clarified that receiving an R21 does not prevent you from applying for the K22.
  • Disqualifying positions: You may NOT hold or have held an independent tenure-track or research faculty position or its equivalent.
  • Disqualifying grants: You may NOT currently be or have been a PI on a large research grant (R01, R29, DP2, P01, or equivalent). You may NOT hold or have held another NIH career development award (K01, K07, K08, K18, K23, K99, or equivalent).
  • Disqualifying applications: You may NOT have pending an application for any other career development award, K22, or K99/R00.
  • Clinical faculty: A clinical faculty member who does NOT hold an independent research faculty position may be eligible for the K22 award and should contact NIATraining@mail.nih.gov for guidance.

How to Apply

Find general information on applying to career development awards.

Consult the funding opportunity announcement, particularly sections IV.2 and V.1, and the Career Development (K) SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide for detailed instructions.

Tips for applying for a K22:

  1. Describe both your current and planned research. In your Project Summary/Abstract, include a description of your current research and the research you propose to continue during the independent K22. Similarly, the research plan must span both the period from approval to award and the award period itself. The narrative should describe what the candidate will accomplish during the postdoctoral phase of research that will enable the transition into the independent research program.
  2. Remember, the K22 is not a mentored award. Under the "Plan and Statements of Mentor and Co-mentor(s)" section, include a statement indicating that this is a transition award with no mentor or co-mentor. It is recommended that your postdoctoral advisor submit a letter of recommendation, rather than a letter of support. Letters of support should be reserved for collaborators and consultants.
  3. However, tailor your career development plan to your career phase. The K22 is designed to be open to researchers with a wide range of post-doctoral research experience levels. Reflect on the postdoctoral training you've receive - earlier stage postdocs can benefit from describing a plan to identify mentors who will support them as they begin their faculty position. Later stage postdocs or scientists who are already working somewhat independently may not need a significant mentoring plan.
  4. Clearly describe the transition to independence. Explain which aspects of the research are yours to take with you as you establish a lab, and which will remain with your postdoctoral advisor.
  5. Include signed letters of support from collaborators. Signed statements must be provided by all collaborators and/or consultants confirming their participation in the project and describing their specific roles. Unless they are also listed as senior/key personnel, collaborators and consultants do not need to provide their biosketches. However, their letter of support should clearly document their expertise in the proposed areas of consulting/collaboration.

Activating the K22

Recipients of a K22 Letter of Approval are strongly encouraged to contact their NIH program official as soon as plans to apply for and assume an independent position develop. K22 Transition applications should be submitted at least two months before the proposed start date, or no later than June 1st for a start date before September 30.

K22 Faculty Position Requirements

In order to activate the K22, you must have been offered and accepted an assistant professor position that meets the following K22 requirements:

  • Tenure-track, full-time assistant professor position (or equivalent)
  • Must provide protected research time for the duration of the K22:
    • Minimum of 9 months or 75% research time
    • Teaching, clinical, and other non-research duties should be minimal
  • Salary and start-up package are equivalent to recent new hires (the K22 may not be used to offset the start-up package or institutional salary commitment)
  • Appointment may not be contingent on the K22 award
  • The institution must support the K22 grantee in applying for independent research funding (R01)

Once you have a job offer that you are seriously considering, we recommend you consult with your K22 program officer to ensure the offer meets the above requirements

Submitting the K22 Transition Application

The independent phase institution must submit an application on behalf of the candidate for the K22 Award no later than 2 months prior to the proposed activation date of the award, or no later than June 1st for a start date prior to September 30th. Institutions should submit Form PHS 2590 directly to the NIA Training Office (NIATraining@mail.nih.gov), and include a copy to the program officer and grants management specialist on the award.

Form PHS 2590 must include the following:

  • A description of the proposed research.
  • A description of the institutional environment, including: research facilities and the availability of appropriate educational opportunities, including collaborating faculty, when necessary; quality and relevance of the environment for scientific and professional development of the candidate.
  • Information about the sponsoring institution's commitment to the candidate and to the candidate's scientific independence, including: commitment to ensuring that the candidate's effort required by the K22 program will be devoted directly to the research and career development activities described in the proposed career development and research plans; institutional commitment to fostering the career development of the candidate.
  • Position Description: the institution should provide a detailed description of the candidate's position, responsibilities, and duties. The institution's tenure-track policy should be defined or a description should be provided of the equivalent arrangements for institutions without a formal tenure-track.
  • Budget in detail, including justification for all requested funds:
    • List the name, role on project and percent effort for all project personnel (salaried and unsalaried) and provide a narrative justification for each person;
    • Identify all consultants by name and organization affiliation and describe the services to be performed;
    • Provide a narrative justification for any major budget items, other than personnel, that are requested for the conduct of the project;
  • Describe specific resources committed by the sponsoring institution to support the Candidate's research.

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An official website of the National Institutes of Health