Skip to main content

Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Celebrating 75 Years! Learn More >>

Training banner

NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)

The NIH Pathway to Independence Award offers an opportunity for highly promising postdoctoral scientists to receive both mentored and independent research support from the same award. This award provides 1-2 years for mentored postdoctoral career development (K99 phase) followed by up to 3 years of independent research support (R00 phase).

Notices of funding opportunities

PA-24-193: NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00 – Independent Clinical Trial Required) 
PA-24-194: NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00 – Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed) 
PA-24-195: NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00 Independent Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required) 

Learn more about NIH’s Definition of a Clinical Trial .

Due dates

New Applications: February 12, June 12, October 12
Resubmissions: March 12, July 12, November 12
AIDS applications: May 7, September 7, January 7

PD/PI eligibility

K99/R00 applicants must have no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research experience at the time of application regardless of whether it is a new or resubmission application. Applicants must be in mentored, postdoctoral training positions to be eligible to apply to the K99/R00 program. Postdoctoral research is defined as any time spent conducting research or publishing research results following completion of all degree requirements, which may not correspond with the date of the graduation ceremony. This includes any time spent at the institution where the doctoral degree was completed prior to starting an official postdoctoral position.

If an applicant achieves independence (any faculty or non-mentored research position) before a K99 award is made, neither the K99, nor the R00 award, will be made.

There is no citizenship requirement for K99 applicants.

Institution eligibility

U.S. domestic institutions
Foreign components allowed

Additional information

Given that the K99 phase is intended for mentored career development, a well-justified and feasible set of mentored career development goals for the K99 phase that complements the applicant’s current skill set is an expected component of the application. Applications lacking a well-reasoned set of mentored career development goals generally do not receive favorable reviews. 

Awardees are expected to complete at least one full year of mentored training under the K99 phase before transitioning to the second (R00) phase. The R00 phase will provide up to 3 years of independent research support, which is contingent on satisfactory progress during the K99 phase and an approved, independent, tenure-track (or equivalent) faculty position.

K99/R00 transition guidance

The two award phases are intended to be continuous in time. Transition from the K99 phase to the R00 phase is not automatic and is subject to NIMH administrative review of the K99 awardee’s accomplishments during the K99 phase and the materials submitted in support of the R00 phase application (including the faculty job offer).

To activate the independent phase of the grant, individuals must have been offered and accepted a tenure-track, full-time assistant professor position (or equivalent) by the end of the K99 project period. The faculty position may not be contingent upon receipt of an R00 award.

K99 awardees are strongly encouraged to contact their Program Officer as they begin to interview for tenure-track faculty positions and to provide regular status updates on their job search. Such communication will allow staff to provide appropriate technical assistance during the job search and negotiation. K99 awardees are expected to notify their Program Officer upon receipt of any tenure-track faculty job offer (and prior to acceptance of an offer) so that the Program Officer may address questions concerning NIMH’s expectations for transition to the R00 phase.  

Individuals should allow three months for NIMH review of R00 phase applications. R00 applications submitted after July 15 annually will generally not be reviewed until the next fiscal year (after October 1).

Independent investigator phase (R00) expectations

Award recipients are expected to apply for independent R01 support from the NIMH during the R00 award period.  

Salary and research costs

K99 phase:

Salary support: Up to $75,000 plus fringe benefits per year. Practicing physician-scientists may be eligible for up to $100,000 salary plus fringe benefits per year.

Research support: Up to $20,000 per year

R00 phase:

The total cost for the independent phase (R00) may not exceed $249,000. This amount includes salary, fringe benefits, research costs, and applicable indirect costs.

The requested salary must be consistent both with the established salary structure at the institution and with salaries provided by the institution from its own funds to other staff members with equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities in the department concerned. The total salary may not exceed the legislatively mandated salary cap. See the NIH Salary Cap Summary 

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to review the notice of funding opportunity, NIH New Investigators Program FAQs , and the FAQs below prior to contacting the appropriate NIMH Research Training and Career Development representative for additional information.

To compare across K mechanisms (i.e., salary support, effort, etc.), see the Table of K Parameters.


Q: From what point is the 4-year eligibility window calculated for NIMH?

A: The K99/R00 eligibility window begins on the date you complete your PhD requirements. Any time spent conducting research or publishing research results following completion of all degree requirements counts as postdoctoral experience. NIMH strongly encourages potential K99/R00 applicants to apply as soon as they have developed a conceptual framework for their independent research program and have accumulated preliminary data to document general feasibility of the proposed research program. It is not recommended that applicants defer application until the end of the eligibility window should they be strong candidates prior to this time.

Q: Should I request a specific study section for my K99/R00 application?

A: No. All NIMH K99/R00 applications are assigned to an NIMH study section.

Q: Can I apply if I am a non-US citizen on a temporary visa?

A: There is no citizenship requirement for K99 applicants. An applicant may be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States, have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status), or be a non-U.S. citizen. For applications submitted on behalf of non-U.S. citizens with temporary U.S. visas, visa status during each phase of the K99/R00 award must allow the PD/PI to conduct the proposed research at the applicant institution.

Q: Is it possible to request a waiver to the 4-year eligibility window?

A: NIMH will grant an eligibility waiver on a case-by-case basis. An exception may be considered when a significant break in training has occurred as a result of family responsibilities, medical leave, or military service, or when a significant change in fields of study has occurred, such as moving from physical science to life science research. Investigators are expected to contact NIMH staff to discuss issues regarding eligibility prior to applying and to learn if their circumstance warrants an exception (see K Award Eligibility Extension page).

Q: For the R00 phase, what constitutes an eligible position?

A: An eligible position is a tenure-track, full-time assistant professor position (or equivalent).