Last summer, we reported that in fiscal year 2020 NIH supported 1,412 early-stage investigators (ESIs) as first-time Principal Investigators on R01-equivalent awards. This all-time high was seen after several years of steady growth in the number of ESIs supported since implementing NIH’s Next Generation Researchers Initiative five years ago. Today, we take a look specifically at how ESIs and other targeted groups fared last fiscal year.
There has been a lot of focus on early stage investigator (ESI) extension requests in the community recently. And we certainly understand why. The experience of the COVID-19 public health emergency has brought into sharp focus that the effects of the pandemic on careers and life in general may continue for years to come. This fact has led us to revisit our approach to granting ESI extension requests.
Take a few minutes and join us for this NIH All About Grants podcast mini-series on Early Stage Investigators (ESIs). In part 1 of this two-part conversation, we touch on NIH’s interest in supporting ESIs, who is and is not an ESI, the benefits afforded to ESIs, and more. We discuss extending one’s ESI status in part 2.
Can I Request an Extension to My ESI Period for an Event That Occurred During a Timeframe That Includes a Previous Extension?
Some investigators experience a lapse in their research or research training or experience periods of less than full-time effort during the 10-year ESI period. The NIH considers requests to extend the ESI period for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care, and more. However, the ESI Extension Committee will only consider requests for events that occur within the initial 10 years from receipt of terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later.
Since launching in 2017, NIH’s Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) is continuing to address longstanding challenges faced by researchers trying to embark upon and sustain independent research careers as well as to promote the stability and diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Today, we are sharing data on our progress towards increased support for ESIs and other targeted groups.
Yes. Be sure to describe the nature of the disruption to your research in your ESI extension request. We suggest you submit the request once you know how much research time was lost, unless your upcoming application deadline is imminent and an ESI extension is urgently needed. In this case you would be able to submit another extension once you know the full extent of the time lost. Check out this handy chart that breaks down what can or cannot impact your ESI status.
NIH recognizes that a lot can happen to interrupt the 4-year K99 eligibility window. Since one of the most popular reasons for extension requests involve childbirth, NIH will approve an extension of one year for childbirth, consistent with the NIH Extension Policy for Early Stage Investigator Status (ESI), effective immediately. Men, those adopting children, and same-sex partners of individuals giving birth can also apply for an extension.
NIH recognizes that a lot can happen to interrupt the ten-year eligibility window of your Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status, such as family care responsibilities, military service, medical concerns, and more. While you may currently request an extension of that ten-year period by completing an Extension Request Form, the process for requesting an extension of ESI status will soon be moving to the eRA Commons.
Looking for answers to your questions on our Early Stage Investigator (ESI) policy? Check out the following highlighted frequently asked questions (FAQ) for information on how NIH defines and reviews ESI applications to promote the growth and stability of the biomedical research workforce.
We appreciate the many thoughtful comments posted to the blog about working together to improve NIH funding support for early- and mid-career investigators to stabilize the biomedical workforce and research enterprise using a measure called the Grant Support Index (GSI). Some clear themes have emerged, including: ….