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K99/R00: Pathway to Independence Awards

The K99/R00 mechanism supports exceptional postdoctoral researchers in completing the final years of their postdoctoral work and transitioning to a role as an independent scientist. Each award has two phases, the K99 phase supporting postdoctoral training, and the R00 phase supporting an independent research career. Senior postdoctoral researchers may also wish to consider the REDI entrepreneurial development awards, and the K-series Research Career Development Awards. K99/R00 awards are open to postdocs conducting research in the United States who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or on a valid U.S. visa.

NEW! K99/R00 Sample Applications Available

Read sample K99/R00 applications and their accompanying reviewer summary statements.

K99/R00 Awards Supported by NIA

NIA supports several different K99/R00 awards, which differ in their focus and in eligibility requirements. Several of the awards include multiple versions depending on the type of study proposed (clinical trial, non-clinical trial, basic experimental studies in humans).

K99/R00 Awards Supported by NIA
Number Name Career Stage Discipline Funding Opportunity Announcements
K99/R00 NIH Pathway to Independence Parent Postdocs with up to 4 years of postdoctoral research experience All aging research
NIA K99/R00 Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Awards to Promote Diversity in Translational Research for AD/ADRD Postdocs with up to 4 years of postdoctoral research experience, who are members of an underrepresented population. Drug discovery or data science research in Alzheimer's disease and AD-related dementias
NIH Fellowship Award Cycle
K99 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

Award Duration

  • K99 Phase (postdoctoral):One to two years
  • R00 Phase (independent): Up to three years

Budget Levels

Yearly award budgets for the K99 phase are composed of salary, research and career development funds, and in some case funds to cover travel to conferences. In the R00 phase, the yearly award budget covers salary, fringe benefits, research costs, and indirect costs. Additional details can be found in each award’s funding opportunity announcement.

K99/R00 Budget Levels
Award Component Amount
K99 Salary Up to $75,000
K99 Research and Career Development Funds Up to $25,000
R00 Total Budget Up to $249,000

K99 Eligibility

K99 applicants must be in mentored, non-independent research positions, working in the U.S., with no more than four years of research experience after the Ph.D. at the time of application. Importantly, time spent conducting research in your Ph.D. lab after receiving your Ph.D. counts as postdoctoral research experience.

Who qualifies for the K99?

The NIH recognizes that some institutions appoint postdoctoral researchers under other position titles. To be eligible for a K99, you must be in a mentored, non-independent research position. If your position title does not clearly identify you as postdoc, you must provide evidence that your position is a mentored, postdoctoral training position. An official institutional document that includes a description of the position is typically sufficient. Additionally, a clinical faculty member who does not hold an independent research faculty position may be eligible for the K99/R00 award, and should contact NIATraining@mail.nih.gov for guidance. Additional details on distinguishing independent from non-independent positions can be found in section III.1 of the parent K99 funding announcement.

What additional requirements are there for applicants on temporary visas?

For the K99 phase of the award, the applicant institution is responsible for determining and documenting, in the K99 application, that the candidate’s visa will allow them to remain in the U.S. long enough to complete the K99 phase of the award. For the R00 phase of the award, the U.S. institution at which the R00 phase of the award will be conducted is responsible for determining and documenting, in the R00 application, that the PI’s visa will allow them to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the R00 award.

Eligibility window extensions

K99 applicants may have no more than four years of postdoctoral research experience by the application due date, regardless of whether they submit a new application or a resubmission. NIH will approve requests for extension of the eligibility window, on both a regular and case-by-case basis:

  • Automatic approval, no request needed: For the NIA and parent K99/R00, there is a COVID-19 extension for those whose eligibility would normally end on or before the June/July 2022 due dates.
  • Regular approval: One year extension for childbirth within the K99 eligibility window. Include child’s date of birth in extension request.
  • Case-by-case: Parental, medical, or other well-justified leave; disability, extended clinical training, natural disasters, active duty military service. Part-time postdoctoral research training, related to personal or family situations or occurring during a research residency or fellowship, will be pro-rated accordingly.

To request a childbirth or case-by-case extension, or to confirm your eligibility timeline, please email NIATraining@mail.nih.gov no later than 12 weeks before submitting an application. In your email, please include the exact date when your doctoral degree was conferred, and the start date of your first full-time postdoctoral research position.

How to Apply

Find general information on applying to career development awards

Always consult the funding opportunity announcement and the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide for detailed instructions.

Tips for applying for a K99:

  1. Describe BOTH the K99 postdoctoral phase and the R00 independent phase of research. This narrative should describe what you will accomplish during the mentored phase research that will enable you to launch an independent research program (i.e., what do you still need to accomplish during the mentored phase in order to compete successfully once independence is achieved).

  2. Assemble an advisory committee. This typically includes the primary mentor as well as two or more co-mentors or advisors. Advisors should provide a letter of support. Provide details such as how often and in what format you will meet with your mentors and advisors. However, one individual should be clearly designated as the primary mentor.

  3. 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.

  4. Make sure your research falls within the focus of the award. NIA will fund parent K99’s on all aspects of aging. For the NIA Diversity AD/ADRD, topics of interest include:

    • Application of data science (e.g., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, computational biology, bioinformatics, mathematics, engineering, and biostatistics) to AD/ADRD and neurodegenerative research

    • Traditional and emerging drug discovery and drug development (e.g. medicinal chemistry, high-throughput screening, quantitative pharmacology, toxicology, and clinical trial design)

    • Translation of behavioral and social research into the development of individual, population, and system-level interventions to improve the health and well-being of persons with dementia and their caregivers

    • Cross-national dementia research using harmonized data on cognitive function

    • Research on health disparities in AD/ADRD

  5. Include detailed plans for the R00 phase. Describe your vision for the research plan of your independent lab, as you see it now. Demonstrate that you can articulate a long-term research plan. Of course, your R00 plans will likely change as you complete your K99 project, you will update the independent research plan when you apply for the R00 transition.

Transitioning to the R00 Independent Phase

K99 recipients are strongly encouraged to contact their NIH program official as soon as plans to apply for and assume an independent position develop, and not later than 6 months prior to the termination of the K99 phase of the award.

R00 Faculty Position Requirements

In order to transition to the R00 phase, you must have been offered and accepted an assistant professor position that meets the following R00 requirements:

  • Tenure-track, full-time assistant professor position (or equivalent)
  • Must provide protected research time for the duration of the R00:
    • 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 R00 may not be used to offset the start-up package or institutional salary commitment)
  • Appointment may not be contingent on the transfer of the R00 award
  • The institution must support the R00 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 K99 program officer to ensure the offer meets the above requirements.

Submitting the R00 Transition Application

The independent phase institution should submit an application on behalf of the candidate for the R00 Award using the PHS 398 Application no later than 2 months prior to the proposed activation date of the R00 Award. The R00 institution's Authorized Organizational Representative must email the application in PDF format to the program official and the grants specialist on the award.

Applications must be received no later than 2 months prior to the proposed R00 activation date, or, in order to receive consideration before September 30, applications must be received by June 1.

The R00 application must include:

  • A new face page signed by the R00 phase institutional representative
  • A new project description page (the project summary or abstract should be updated to reflect current plans for the R00 phase)
  • Detailed budget pages for a non-modular budget
  • Updated biographical sketches (PI, collaborators, and consultants)
  • A new Resources page
  • Final Progress Report for the K99 phase
  • An updated research plan (the specific aims should be updated to reflect current plans for the R00 phase and the updated research plan should be briefly described in less than 5 pages)
  • An updated Bibliography & References Cited section
  • An updated PHS 398 checklist
  • A letter from the R00 Department or Division Chairman describing the R00 institution's commitment to the candidate and plans for his/her career development
  • A final evaluation statement by the K99 phase mentor

Human Subjects. If the proposed research involves human subjects, provide:

  • An updated Human Subjects section, including an "Inclusion Enrollment Report"
  • Current IRB approval or expected approval date (award is not made until final IRB approval is granted)

Vertebrate Animals. If the proposed research involves vertebrate animals, provide:

  • An updated Vertebrate Animals section (IACUC approval is Just-In-Time information)
  • Award is not made until final IACUC approval is granted

Applicants on temporary visas. If the applicant is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, please provide:

  • Documentation that the PI’s visa will allow them to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the R00 award.