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NIH Pathway to Independence (PI) Award (K99/R00)

NINDS Intramural Applications


The Pathway to Independence Award is uniquely designed to facilitate the transition of outstanding postdoctoral candidates from mentored to independent research positions. The award contains two components, a mentored (K99) phase of at least 1- year but can last up to 2-years, and an independent (R00) phase which will have a duration of 3-years. The objective of the program is to facilitate research independence earlier in an investigator's career. Investigators complete supervised research and apply for an independent research position (tenure track or equivalent) during the mentored phase of the award. Activation of the independent award phase is contingent upon the investigator securing an independent research position. Award recipients are expected to obtain R01 support during the independent phase of the award.

Salary and Research Costs: Budget details for mentored candidates in the NIH Intramural program will be negotiated with the sponsoring laboratory and will be consistent with offers to scientists in comparable positions.

Eligibility: Eligible candidates will have no more than 4-years of postdoctoral experience (whether at the NIH or elsewhere before coming to the NIH) at the time of application and currently be in one of the following types of appointments: IRTA, CRTA, VF (within VISA restrictions), or Research or Clinical Fellow in an FTE position.

Review and Candidate Selection: Applications are submitted through the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) and reviewed by a NIH NINIHNDS study section. The study section will be responsible for evaluating and scoring all applications and making recommendations to the Scientific Director.

NINDS Intramural K99 Pre-submission Approvals and Process

NINDS Intramural fellows interested in applying for the K99 Pathway to Independence Award must first obtain permission from the PI mentor and from the Scientific Director to write a K99 application and, if approved to write, will submit the application for pre-submission review.  Based on the outcome of the pre-submission review the Scientific Director will determine whether or not the application will go forward for submission. The fellow should take into account the K99 eligibility criteria and the time required for the different levels of NINDS Intramural pre-submission approvals when initiating the K99 process.  The NINDS Intramural K99 process is described below:

Step 1: Permission to write a K99 application. Before writing a K99 application the fellow must first obtain permission from the Scientific Director, with endorsement of the mentor, to write an application. To request approval the fellow will send an email to Dr. Lorna Role, with a copy to the PI mentor and Caren Collins, including the fellow’s CV, an abstract of the proposed work and a rationale for why the laboratory is suited to the mentored phase of the work.  If approval to write an application is granted, the fellow and mentor will be notified by email.  Shortly thereafter Caren Collins will send instructions to the fellow for the application and submission process.  Requests to write a K99 must be made a minimum of two months in advance to allow time for Steps 2 and 3 (see below).

Step 2: Pre-submission review one month prior to the official receipt date: A pre-submission review of the application is required for NINDS Intramural candidates. Based on the  presubmission review the Scientific Director will determine whether or not the application will go forward for submission. For the pre-submission review the candidate will submit one hard copy of the application to Caren Collins one month prior to the official receipt date. 

Step 3: Official submission: If approved for submission, an eRA Commons account will be established for the candidate. The candidate should plan to submit the electronic file of the application to the responsible NINDS official a minimum of five (5) business days prior to the official K99 receipt date*.

Refer to the NINDS Training & Career Awards website Exit Disclaimer Policy for the following:

  • Link to the current NIH K99 Program Announcement
  • Official receipt dates for K99 applications
  • Link to the K99 application and instructions in

Questions concerning NINDS Intramural K99 applications should be directed to Caren Collins in the Office of the Scientific Director at or 301-435-2232.