K01 NINDS Postdoctoral Career Development Award

For support of outstanding, mentored postdoctoral researchers to develop a potentially impactful research project with a comprehensive career development plan that will enable them to launch an independent research program.

Program Announcements
NINDS Postdoctoral K01 - No Independent Clinical Trials - PAR-20-049

NINDS Postdoctoral K01 - Clinical Trial Required - PAR-20-050

Due Dates for New/Resubmission Applications
February 12/March 12,  June 12/July 12,  October 12/November 12

PD/PI Eligibility
U.S. citizens or permanent residents; research or clinical doctorate holders (who are not licensed to practice clinically)

Institution Eligibility
U.S. domestic institutions

Additional Information

The K01 is for a well-trained individual who is in a mentored postdoctoral research position and wants to work in that environment for several years. The project should be one that the candidate designed in consultation with the mentor and will subsequently take to an independent research position.  The K01 is intended to support the development of an impactful research project, which, combined with a thorough career development plan, will prepare the candidate to launch a successful, impactful independent research career. By the end of the K01 award period, the individual should have a well-developed, potentially impactful project that can be continued by the awardee in the independent research position. The K01 is NOT designed to support postdoctoral fellows who are simply conducting research previously proposed in the mentor’s research grant, for which the applicant has contributed little original input into the research questions or design.

Duration of Support
Postdoctoral fellows can be supported within the first 6 years of cumulative postdoctoral research experience. For example, if the candidate has 36 months of cumulative postdoctoral research experience at the time of award, the maximum award duration would be 36 months.

This K01 is NOT a substitute for an F32. 
The expectation in review regarding sophistication and presentation will be similar to that of a K99/R00 – the K01 is for well-trained candidates, with a strong research track record, who have demonstrated the ability to conduct rigorous research, and who are working on a potentially impactful project with an outstanding mentor. There is an expectation of high quality preliminary data and a demonstration of creativity and/or innovation. The research project should be viewed as original, highly significant and in the hands of a candidate who, under the guidance of the mentor, will gain the tools to successfully conduct the research. By the end of the K01 period, the candidate should be poised to be a creative, innovative, rigorous investigator in his/her field and to successfully launch an independent research program.

Are applicants more likely to get a K01 if they delay applying until they have published in the proposed laboratory?  
As described in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for this K01, “applications are strongly encouraged from candidates who are at the earlier end of the eligibility window so that they will have sufficient time to accomplish the career development goals of the award.”  Of course, applicants who apply earlier may not yet have publications in their current postdoctoral laboratory.  For an original, highly significant project, one year is generally enough time to collect high quality data, formulate clear, rigorous experimental plans and goals, and confirm that a project will yield important fruit, yet perhaps not time enough to publish a compelling, impactful paper. Similarly, it may be that the candidate is working on a complex project that requires several years of research prior to publication.  So having a publication from the proposed postdoctoral laboratory is not a requirement for a successful NINDS postdoctoral K01 application. As for all grant applications, reviewers will have an expectation that productivity is appropriate given the research area, project complexity and time spent on the project.  In some cases, reviewers may think that the candidate should have published by the time of application. In other cases, reviewers will likely consider it unreasonable to expect publications from the proposed postdoctoral laboratory by the time of application. (Note that successful candidates will be expected to have demonstrated the ability to lead a research project and publish one or more excellent papers at some point prior to application, and to have a record of productivity reflective of a high level of accomplishment appropriate to their current career stage).

Potential candidates should read the FOA carefully. 
Applicants are strongly advised to carefully read the entire FOA so they will know exactly what is required. As with all NIH FOAs, reading all sections, including the review criteria, provides great insight into what reviewers will be evaluating.

What is the difference between the K01 and K99/R00? 
Both of these mechanisms are for the support of well-trained postdoctoral fellows who have original, innovative approaches to significant research questions and who conduct rigorous, high-quality research that has the potential for high impact. The K01 is for individuals who want to devote a significant period of time, under the guidance of an outstanding mentor, to develop an outstanding project. The K99/R00 is for individuals who are finishing up their postdoctoral training, have already developed an outstanding research project and are nearly ready to transition to a tenure-track or equivalent position.

Can I receive both a K01 and a K99/R00? No.

Can the K01 be transferred to a faculty position? 
The K01 is intended to support activities under the guidance of a postdoctoral mentor. However, after a minimum of 18 months of K01 support, if the K01 scholar transitions to an independent faculty position, remaining time (up to 12 months maximum) on the award may be used to support the scholar in the independent position.

Can one apply for a K award to move from a first postdoc to a second postdoc? Which is better for this, a K01 or a K99/R00? 
One could apply for either for this purpose. The issue to think about is, how does the award match up with your plan? For either award, your end goal should be to obtain an independent research position. If you wish to spend more than 2 years in the new laboratory, perhaps developing a complex project that will form the basis of your independent research, the K01 may be advantageous. If you will obtain the training and results you need for independence within 2 years of entering the new lab, the K99/R00 may be more appropriate. Keep in mind, however, that whereas both grants can be transferred to a faculty position, the rules for transfer, and the value of the transferred award, will be different.

Relevant Policy Notices
NOT-NS-18-034 Notice of Expiration of PAR-17-145 "NINDS Postdoctoral Mentored Career Development Award (K01)"



Stephen Korn, Ph.D. | Director, Office of Training & Workforce Development 



NIH Definition of a Clinical Trial

Training Outcomes Data

Administrative Supplements to Promote Research Continuity and Retention of NIH Mentored Career Development (K) Award Recipients

NINDS Diversity Career Development (K) Award OPEN Conversations Webinar

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Form Approved OMB# 0925-0648 Exp. Date 06/2024