The NIH Director's Early Independence Award 2019 call for applications is closed. The previous call is below for your reference only.  This call for applications is scheduled to be updated in 2020 and the deadline is anticipated to be in June of 2020. Please check the ECOR website and your emails from MGH Research News for updates. Click here to sign up to receive MGH Research News.

NIH Director's Early Independence Award Program (DP5) 2022

MGH Internal Pre-proposal Deadline

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 – 5:00 PM



"The NIH Director's Early Independence Award provides an opportunity for exceptional junior scientists to accelerate their entry into an independent research career by forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period. Though most newly graduated doctoral-level researchers would benefit from post-doctoral training, a small number of outstanding junior investigators are capable of launching directly into an independent research career. The Early Independence Award is intended for these select junior investigators who have already established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and have demonstrated unusual scientific vision and maturity; typical post-doctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into independent research."

MGH is eligible to nominate two candidates for the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award.  Pre-proposals will be reviewed and assessed by the ECOR Subcommittee on Review of Research Proposals (SRRP). 




This award will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs. This award is limited to five years and funding will be effective in FY2023.




MGH Internal Pre-Proposal Deadline:  Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 5pm

Notification to MGH Candidate: Late July

NIH Letter of Intent Deadline: August 2, 2022

NIH Deadline: September 2, 2022 at 5pm




At the time of application:

  • Applicant must have a full-time primary appointment at MGH
  • There is no citizenship requirement for applicants. 
  • The applicant may not hold a DP5 and career development (K) award concurrently.

Time window for eligibility:  The "receipt date of the terminal doctoral degree or end of post-graduate clinical training of the PD/PI must be between June 1, 2021 and September 30, 2023. The degree receipt date is that which appears on the official transcript for the degree. The end of post-graduate clinical training includes residency and fellowship periods. The PD/PI must not have served as a post-doctoral fellow for more than twelve months before June 1, 2021.

At the time of award, either 1) the Early Independence investigator must have received a PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, Dr PH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW, PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution (it is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution to determine if a foreign doctoral degree is equivalent), or 2) an authorized official of the degree-granting or training institution must certify that all degree requirements have been met and that the receipt date of the degree (as will appear on the transcript) will be before September 30, 2023; in addition, an authorized official of the host institution must certify that the PD/PI will be able to conduct independent research at the institution at the time of the project start date."


Level of effort: "Individuals must commit at least 9.6 person-months each year (80% effort of a 12 -month appointment) to the Early Independence Award project in years 1-2 of the project period. In years 3-5, awardees may reduce effort toward the Early Independence Award project but must commit at least 9.6 person-months each year (i.e. 80% effort of a 12-month appointment) to independent research in general. General independent research includes the effort spent on the Early Independence Award project and any other independent research projects the awardee is working on."


Research independence at time of application: "Individuals are eligible only if they, at the time of application submission, do not have research independence. Lack of research independence is defined functionally rather than by position title. Eligible individuals must have all the following characteristics:

  • The candidate's "current research agenda is set through concurrence with mentors."
  • The candidate's "research is funded primarily through support to other investigators (mentored fellowships such as NIH F31 or F32 Fellowships or NSF Graduate Research Fellowships do not preclude eligibility)."
  • The candidate "does not have any space assigned directly by the institution for the conduct of his or her research."
  • The candidate, "according to institutional policy, cannot apply for an NIH R01 grant without special waiver or exemption from the institution."

Though candidates "must not be functionally independent at the time of application submission, they may become functionally independent prior to time of award and still retain eligibility for the award."

At Mass General Hospital we believe that because of diversity we excel.  Therefore, women and URM candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.



The MGH internal preliminary application must include the following 5 items:  

Project Title

2. Research Proposal (2-3 pages)

  • Brief description of the project with an emphasis on how appropriate experience, training, and skills obtained will enable you to conduct highly innovative research
  • Brief description of your current scientific environment and how it will foster independent research and contribute to the probability of success

3. Biosketch of the applicant in NIH format (not a CV).  Click here for a sample NIH biosketch.

4. Other Support, a list of other current and pending support sources, in the NIH format.  If the applicant does not have other current or pending support sources, please indicate “none” when applicable.  Click here for a sample Other Support list in the NIH format.

5.  Unit, Service, or Department Chief letter of recommendation (address letters to ECOR Review Committee). The letter must describe the applicant's qualities that support the applicant's claim to possess the scientific, leadership and management skills necessary to conduct successful, completely independent research. When possible, give specific examples that illustrate these qualities. (2 pages max).




  • Use margins of 0.5 inches or greater
  • Use 11pt font size or greater.
  • Upload PDF documents only.  Limit characters to A-Z and 0-9 when naming PDF documents.  Do not use periods, commas or dashes in the file name.




ECOR accepts all applications online via the MGRI Online Grant Management Portal.  The system has been designed to allow users to:

  • Create a personal profile, which will auto-populate your future ECOR applications
  • Assign a delegate to submit applications on your behalf (optional)
  • View current calls and apply to open opportunities 
  • Save and edit current applications in progress
  • Submit completed applications.

Instructions for Applying Online:

1.        Create your account: Log in using your Partners credentials and fill-out the profile information.

2.        Complete the application: Once your profile is complete, you will automatically progress through the online application. If you cannot complete the application at one time, “save” the application and return to it at a later time to finish. Before submitting your application, you will have the ability to make changes to the application.

3.        Submit your application: Once you have completed the application click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the page. Once you submit it, you will not be able to make further changes unless you send a request to ECOR (note that once the deadline passes, requests to make changes will not be accepted).


Useful tips:

  • To avoid losing your work, remember to save frequently
  • You can only upload PDF documents
  • If you previously created a profile, please ensure your information is current prior to submitting an application.

  Click 'Apply' below to begin the application.




If you have any questions, please email ECOR.

To review the NIH RFA guidelines, please click here.