Sunday, August 24, 2008

Advice on applying for an NIH K99 Pathways to Independence Award

I was recently awarded an NIH K99 from NIGMS for my proposal entitled "Cooperation and conflict in microbial systems: sucrose metabolism in yeast". Although my application was successful, I made a number of mistakes that ended up being rather costly.

In brief, the K99/R00 program is a bridging grant designed to provide support for the final 1 - 2 years of a postdoc (K99 phase) and the first 3 years of a faculty position (R00 phase). The grant is worth $90,000/yr during the postdoctoral phase and $250,000/yr during the faculty phase (amounts include F&A overhead).

The biggest mistake that I made was to ask for only one year of postdoctoral funding. I was treating this as an estimate of how long I expected to be in my postdoc, but this request cannot be changed. This mistake was particularly bad because the transfer from K99 to R00 is supposed to be continuous, meaning that if you don't get a job in the year that you apply then you may not be able to claim the R00 phase of the award. So I would definitely suggest that everyone ask for two years of K99 funding.

On a related note, ask for full funding at all stages of the award. You will need the money and asking for less doesn't seem to get you any points for modesty.

The proposal is <= 25 pages, which must include a Career Development Section. The NIH takes this very seriously, so you should try to include everything that you can think of (expect to write five or more pages on this).

Your grant will be reviewed in depth by three people and then the entire review section will vote in order to give you a priority score (100 perfect and 500 very much not perfect). In case you are curious, I got a 149. I don't know what the cutoff was (or even if this is a well defined question), but I was certainly curious after I got my score what it might mean!

Another important point that I didn't realize when applying is that the NIH does not want you to have accepted (or even been offered) a faculty position at the time of the award, even if you plan on delaying your start date. This means that you probably cannot apply for faculty positions in the Fall and at the same time apply for a K99 in the November slot (which is not reviewed until ~ April of the next year).

One last piece of advice: Before applying call a program officer and ask for advice. They are generally happy to answer questions and they have seen many applications go through the entire process.

Good luck!

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59 Comments:

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Guohui said...

Hi Jeff, nice post! the experience on K99 is valuable. I was looking for a sample on a successful K99 as a reference for me to start, but can't even find one. if you do not mind, could you please share your application with me? I am in the field of lipid bilayer. to thank you, I can pay you for such a big favor. guohwu@gmail.com

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger Ade said...

Congrats Jeff.

I recently got a priority score of 122 for my K01 application. I am not sure how fundable this score is. I am waiting till Feb 2009 Council Meeting.

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger chserez said...

Hi Jeff
Thanks for the tips... I'm going to apply for a K99 this next fall and as Guohui, I'm also a little bit lost of how a k99 proposal should look like. I'm writting to the NIH to ask some tips too, but if you could be kind and send me a copy of your application, that would be awesome. I work at U of Michigan in the field of macrophage biology and lipid mediators
Thanks a bunch
my email: cserezan@med.umich.edu
Carlos

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger Kun said...

Hi, Jeff,

Congrats!

The post is very helpful. I really appreciate your generous help.
Thanks a lot and good wishes for your future career!

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Kun said...

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for your tips. I am a post-doc in NIH and going to apply K99 this year. Could you please share your application with me? I am in the field of immunology. Thanks. my email: ibbeast@hotmail.com

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Kun said...

Thank you very much!

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Kun said...

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for your tips. I am a post-doc in NIH and going to apply K99 this year. Could you please share your application with me? I am in the field of immunology. Thanks. my email: ibbeast@hotmail.com

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger mfind said...

Really good advice... especially the part about not applying for Faculty positions AND the award at the same time as this was what I was intending to do this year! I'll jump on the bandwagon and ask if there was a chance you would be willing to share your app. as a good jumping off point for my own application. I am in the field of organometallic chemistry and the NIGMS is the only center likely to fund my work. Thanks, Michael (Auschem1980@yahoo.com)

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger mfind said...

Really good advice... especially the part about not applying for Faculty positions AND the award at the same time as this was what I was intending to do this year! I'll jump on the bandwagon and ask if there was a chance you would be willing to share your app. as a good jumping off point for my own application. I am in the field of organometallic chemistry and the NIGMS is the only center likely to fund my work. Thanks, Michael (Auschem1980@yahoo.com)

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger mfind said...

Really good advice... especially the part about not applying for Faculty positions AND the award at the same time as this was what I was intending to do this year! I'll jump on the bandwagon and ask if there was a chance you would be willing to share your app. as a good jumping off point for my own application. I am in the field of organometallic chemistry and the NIGMS is the only center likely to fund my work. Thanks, Michael (Auschem1980@yahoo.com)

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger T said...

Hey, I just saw this post. I am planning to apply for a K99 soon, could you please send me your application, as a sample of what a good funded application comprises will be immensely helpful. I would greattly appreciate it. tkesar@gmail.com
Thanks.

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger Rashmi said...

Hi Jeff
I am postdoc working on leukocyte biology and inflammation. I am in the process of writing a K99 and happened to see your grant. It would be immensely helpful if you could share your successful K99 with me, rashmisreeraj@yahoo.com

 
At 7:04 PM, Blogger Luisito said...

Jeff, or anyone, I'm getting ready to apply for the K99 grant for the Feb 2010 deadline, would it be possible for you (or anyone) to share their successfully funded application with me to see the typical format?

I would greatly appreciate it!
udbimpressed@gmail.com

 
At 2:49 AM, Blogger Dong said...

hi jeff,

very nice post, Could I get one copy of your successfully grant too .

my e-mail : oliverstoney@gmail.com

Thank you very much

 
At 2:49 AM, Blogger Dong said...

hi jeff,

very nice post, Could I get one copy of your successfully grant too .

my e-mail : oliverstoney@gmail.com

Thank you very much

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Damien said...

Hi Jeff,
I don't know if you still check this blog out but good job on receiving your K99 award (even if it has been more than a year ago).
I am planning on applying as well (2010) and like many other people I am looking for a funded application as a starting point. Would you mind sharing yours (or part of it) with me? That would be very generous of you. By the way, I work at Yale University on membrane proteins.
Thank you.

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger san said...

Hey Jeff!

I know your post is pretty old, but would it be possible for me to get a copy of your successful K99 application? I'm confused as to how much of it should have details about the K99 part and whether or not there should be any mention of the R00 part and details thereof. BTW, I'm a research scientist at Texas A&M looking to apply for a K99 soon. Email: ssanjivv@yahoo.com.

Thanks!

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Ritesh said...

Hi Jeff. Your post is very informative. Would it be possible for you to send me a copy of your K99 proposal. I just want to look at a successful proposal. I work in virology at Emory University. My email is rtandon3@gmail.com.

Thanks

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger Tad said...

Thanks for posting some good advice. It seems there is little about K99s. If you've been willing to share with the other posters maybe I'll at least ask if you could share with me if you feel willing.
tracyadamdenison@yahoo.com

I am in a new postdoc position studying cancer drug resistance. I would love to prepare a K99 application in the next few months.

 
At 10:51 PM, Blogger Li said...

Hi Jeff,

Congrats!

The post is very nice.
Thanks a lot and all the best wishes for your future career!

Could I get one copy of your document (shinemuty@gmail.com)
I really appreciate your generous help.

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger mahi said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the valuable advices. I am planning to submit K99 can you send me your as a model to take a look at thanks my email is thescientist003@gmail.com

 
At 2:51 PM, Blogger ivan y mariu said...

Hello Jeff:
One more asking for a K99 model to follow. I have already start with the writting but some guiding help would be very valuable.
Congrats for your grant and at this stage....I wish you an R01!!
mariu_herva@hotmail.com

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger Anjali Angelika said...

Congrats Jeff,

If you could kindly share your successful K99 as a model of the format, it would be very helpful. I am in the field of developmental biology and work at CNMC.

Thank you for your valuable advice.

Anjali

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger Face said...

Hey Jeff, thanks for the advice!! I'm applying for a K99 this year, and would LOVE to get my hands on a good reference. Would you be able to send me your (or part of your) winning grant? Thanks! Take care, and good luck with everything else. faisal.aldaye@gmail.com

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Hillarie said...

Hi Jeff,

I found your post, which seems very helpful, because I am planning to apply for the K99 in June 2010. I am not sure if you are still checking this, or if you did share your application with the others requesting it, but if you are, I would really appreciate the reference of a successful K99/R00. My email is hpwindish@gmail.com.
Thanks!

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Bya said...

Hi Jeff,
very informative post. i am applying for the K99/R00 this june 2010. i wonder if you can share your application with me? your help would be much appreciated. thanks! Bya (nc99163@yahoo.com)

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger feng said...

I am a postdoc researcher in Duke university. Your post is really helpful. I am currently working on apply for k99 for the fall 2010. Could you please share your application with me? My email address is ffeng23@gmail.com . Thanks and best.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Gantt said...

Congratulations on the award. One of the folks in our lab is considering applying for a K99 - could you share a copy of your proposal? - gantt at itsa.ucsf.edu

 
At 3:24 PM, Blogger ken88 said...

Congrats Jeff,
This is very good post and thank you.

I am a postdoc researcher in university of Virginia. Your post is really helpful. I am currently working on apply for k99 for the fall 2010. Could you please share your application with me? My email address is lizp67dd@gmail.com

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger JIMMY said...

Hi Jeff,

I am working on my k99 application, and I am looking for a sample. If you don't mind, could you please share your application with me. Thank you so much !! yengimi@yahoo.com

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger jian said...

Hi, Jeff,

Great post on K99 application. I am planning to apply this fall. Would you mind to share your application with me? I need a successful sample. I am working on mouse spermatogenesis
. Thank you very much.
uklexington@gmail.com

 
At 6:17 PM, Blogger ab said...

Hi Jeff,
Hearty Congratulations and all the best for a very successful career ahead. ..You advice is very helpful, I am planning to apply for K99 this fall. I am currently a postdoc at UNC, Cell biology dept. Like others i have a huge favor to ask you. If you can please let me look at your successful application. It will be wonderful you can kindly send me a copy of your application. my email id is anjubheda@gmail.com. Thanks a lot.

 
At 2:06 PM, Blogger Osh said...

Hi Jeff,

Big congrats! Thank you very much for sharing your experience on the web. It is very generous of you to do that.

I feel weird asking but I would really appreciate if you referred me to a place in which I can access a template/sample of a successful application. My area is developmental psychology. My email is assafoshri@Rochester.edu
Best,
AO

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger z said...

hi jeff,

very nice post, Could you send a copy of your successfully grant to me?

my e-mail : zbl0201@gmail.com

Thank you very much

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Hema said...

Congrats Jeff,

Nice post. I know its a pretty old one. I am working as a postdoc at UCSD. My area of research is mechanotransduction in osteoblasts. I am planning to apply for the K99 award this fall. I would appreciate very much if you can send me a copy of your grant application.
Thank you
Hema
hemar@ucsd.edu

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Hema said...

Congrats Jeff,

Nice post. I know its a pretty old one. I am working as a postdoc at UCSD. I plan on applying for the K award this fall. I work in the area of mechanotransduction in osteoblasts. I would appreciate very much if you can send me a copy of your grant application.
Thank you
Hema
hemar@ucsd.edu

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Pim said...

Hi Jeff,

I know this is an old post but it is very helpful. Thank you.
I am going to apply for the K99/R00 from NIDCR for tooth development project.

If you do not mind, may I have a copy of your K99 application as an example ? I am on my third year of postdoctoral training.
My email is Orapin.Horst@ucsf.edu
Thank you.

 
At 12:09 AM, Blogger Simon said...

Great post! I too would really like to see a sample, mostly I'm unclear on how long certain sections should be.

Thank you,
Simon

 
At 1:52 AM, Blogger magda ulrich P said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for this post. I am currently working on a K99 application and your experience is valuable. I am certainly going to follow you advice.
I was actually looking for an example of a successful application and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind sending me yours at Polywagner@gmail.com? I see that other people have asked you already. Yours might be the only available sample of a succesful K99 application on the web!
Thanks a million!

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger Mohan said...

Hey Jeff,
First my congratulations to you. I have few Questions as every has, what is an ideal year for a post doc to apply for the grant? I am almost completing my 3rd year of post doc and anticipating my first publication soon, so do you think it is early for me. Does this grant get revised or not (I think it doesn't as much as I have read, need a confirmation on that or it all depends upon the score). Can you also send me the copy of your successful grant at "msaturnjosh@gmail.com".

thanks

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger herbert said...

HI Jeff, thanks for post mate. I am working as postdoc at Emory. I noticed that there has been a number of requests for a sample. Will it possible to have a sample.
ludas12@gmail.com

Thanks mate

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Hello Jeff - thanks for for advice and congrats on the funding. I am a 3rd postdoc working on protein kinase scaffold complexes and planning on submitting a K99 this June. I'd love to see a copy on your application, if you'd be willing to share it, and to reciprocate if you'd be interested in anything from me. Best wishes and thanks again.
jcopps@ucsd.edu

 
At 6:37 PM, Blogger ronkenator said...

I too am looking for a sample of a successful application. If you don't mind sharing, rmo1@rice.edu

thanks in advance!

-r

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger PeiChun said...

Hello Jeff,
thanks for the advice! Could you please share your application with me?
I was also looking for a sample on a successful K99 as a reference. I'm a little bit lost of how a K99 proposal should look like. My research area is robotics, gait rehabilitation and stroke.

Best wishes in your career and thanks again.

Pei-Chun
carillonkao@gmail.com

 
At 8:30 PM, Blogger neuron1980 said...

Hi Jeff

What an extremely valuable post. I am pretty sure that all of us reading your post appreciate you taking the time and being honest with us with your experience applying for a NIH K99 award.

Like many above, I too would be extremely appreciative if you would be willing send your application to me as well. My email is iswear99@hotmail.com

Much appreciated

Neil

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Yan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Yan said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the great post. I am in the field of neuroscience and plan to apply a K99 soon. Could you please share your successful application as my reference. Thanks. My email: yanyang2007@gmail.com

 
At 10:46 AM, Blogger Natia said...

I am a postdoc researcher at University of Louisville. Your post is really helpful. I am currently working on apply for k99 . Could you please share your application with me? My email address is natia8010@yahoo.com

Thank you!

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger RaNjEeT said...

Hi Jeff,
One more postdoc looking for a successful application. :-)

I have already started working on my K99/R00 application. I was looking for an example of a successful application and I was wondering if you could send me yours at ranjeet@tamu.edu?

Thank you for all the information. I really appreciate your help.
-Ranjeet

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger NewWorldOrder said...

Hi Jeff, it is really a very nice post and more informative. I am working currently on my K99 application. However, i would like to see the template/format of successful application. If you do not mind, could you please send me (sivavet@gmail.com) the model application. It will be really great! Thank you very much and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR-2012. Siva

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger tlcall01 said...

Would you be willing to share a sample of your proposal for others starting out in this area? I work at Miami University in Ohio and have had a few folks look at the K mechanism, but we've never had any K awards here to help guide them. callahtl@muohio.edu

 
At 1:58 AM, Blogger Edita said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2:02 AM, Blogger Edita said...

Dear Jeff,
Thank you for the infomative post!
I am 4+ year postdoc working on cancer cell signaling networks, although my mentor works in very different field (alcohol research and liver regeneration). Our 8 years of continuous NIH funding has ended, and I am going to lose the job in 3 months. I still have some time until June to write and submit K99/R01, but i really fear the unknown, and would so much appreciate if you could send me your applications as a reference material. I wish you successful career further and inspiring research results!

My email is: aksedita@gmail.com

Edita

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger taps said...

Dear Jeff,
Thanks for the post. Could you please share your grant application with me (troysarkar@gmail.com).
Thanks,
Taps

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Hariharasudhan Cd said...

Jeff,
Thanks for the tips that are usually not mentioned in any career development seminars from NIH (2 yr post doc funding is better). Can you please send me a sample proposal so that I know how to compose mine. I can send you my specific aims (related to NIBIB), if you are curious about my interests.
My email is harih2s@gmail.com
Thanks and good luck
Hari

 
At 11:17 PM, Blogger Moondog99 said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks so much for posting about your K99 experience! I've noticed a number of people have asked to view your K99 application as an example and I'd like to do the same. No pressure if you are uncomfortable sending it out--There is one other prof that I'll ask. Seeing an example would be so helpful. I work in the field of neural regenerative medicine. Thanks for your consideration! (rmooney@coh.org)
Best Regards, Rachael

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Arison329 said...

Like so many before me, I am commenting to ask for a glimpse at your K99 submission. I assist with the packaging of grant submissions and this particluar grant doesn't come through our office very often. It would be a huge help, but I understand if you are unable to help.
Thank you very much for your blog post.

dowdell.alison@mayo.edu

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger Mioara Larion said...

Hi Jeff,

I looks like everyone wants your successful application to know how to write a good proposal. It is rare for many such a success!

Is it possible to share it though?
If not, could you tell me how much preliminary data you had? Also how many sponsors you gathered? Were your letters from outside the university?
please share with me any information you can at mitzularion@yahoo.com

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger Antonio D'Amore said...

Hi everyone,
I have two simple questions:

1) can you estimate what is an acceptable number of papers for a successful candidate? How many first authors and how many papers in total?

2) how important is showing that you previously managed research money and/or received another grant founded by a non US research Institution?

Thanks

Antonio

 

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