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NIH Unveils Plan to 'Leapfrog' Junior Investigators to Independent Research Programs

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health today said it plans to invest about $60 million over five years to aid junior investigators "leapfrog" over traditional post-doctoral training and move into independent academic positions at US universities directly after completing their graduate research degree.

In a statement, NIH said that although traditional post-doc training is appropriate for most new PhD and MD recipients, a pool of scientists have the skills and talent necessary to "flourish independently without the need for traditional post-doctoral training." In response, NIH has created the NIH Director's Early Independence Award program to help such junior investigators.

The program will support such researchers to start their own independent research programs within a year of completing their degree.

NIH plans to issue 10 awards in the fall of 2011. EIA recipients will receive up to $250,000 per year in direct costs for up to five years for research that complements and enhances a host institution's research program.

More information about the awards and how to apply for them is available here. The deadline for applying is Jan. 21, 2011.

According to NIH, recent trends have shown that the traditional scientific training period has gotten longer, delaying scientists who want to launch their independent research careers. "These hurdles can result in valuable time lost by scientists in pursuit of independent biomedical research and deter students as they consider possible careers in biomedical research," the institute said.

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