Extensions for Early Career Scientists Whose Career Trajectories Have Been Significantly Impacted by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with extensive mitigation measures, has adversely affected progress in many biomedical research settings. Evidence from multiple sources, including a survey NIH issued to its supported extramural research workforce last fall, indicates legitimate concerns about career trajectory for early career scientists, including those with caretaker responsibilities. An article by Dr. Erin Gibson and her colleagues argued for a “reset” with focus on early career investigators. One point I took away from this paper is that a reset does not necessarily mean for us to go “back to normal” after the pandemic is over, because that time may have favored certain investigators and disfavored others (something I reflected on in this video and this blog).

Hearing your concerns, NIH issued a Guide Notice last week detailing our approach to support early career scientists whose career trajectories may have been significantly affected by the pandemic as funding will allow). Specifically, NIH is providing an opportunity for recipients in their last year of NIH Fellowship (“F”) and NIH Career Development (“K”) awards who have been impacted by COVID-19 to request extensions. Such extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis, within the existing constraints of available funding. We encourage you to read the Guide Notice and if appropriate reach out to NIH staff as directed.
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Extension Policy for K99/R00 Eligibility

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. Continue reading