For those of us who are facing another year (or more) on the market - what's the deal with K awards? I am thinking about applying for one to extend my postdoctoral fellowship but confused about which one (K01, K99, etc.) to pursue. Has anyone gone for the new K99/R00 mechanism? It seems perfect for my situation (on a postdoc but hoping to start a tt job in the next few years) but I've heard these are really hard to get. What about the K01, K02, K03 awards - are any of these ineligible to postdocs? Also, when to apply? I am starting my 2nd (of 3) years on an NRSA, is now the time?
Date: 27 Jan 2011 18:15
Number of posts: 11
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I know some people who have gotten K awards. They are wonderful funding mechanisms, the K99/R00 is particularly exceptional in that it means that the school who hires you will get a big piece of the pie. Given two people of equal fit/qualification, the one who can automatically bring $$ will probably win out.
Although there are very few awards that get funded every year, I personally think that many fewer people apply for them (as compared to R32 NRSAs.
You're eligible to apply as a postdoc. It's rare to get funded on the first submission, I've been told to count on having to resubmit and go through another cycle. So I think it's smart to apply during your second year, to increase the chances that you actually secure funding before your NRSA runs out. (I am in my 3rd year of NRSA and am only now working on an application, which was a mistake to wait this long)
I hear the K99 is the hardest to get, but they're all quite hard. Another piece of advice I was given was, now that only one resubmission is allowed (used to be 2 resubmissions), it makes sense to spend a lot of time on your initial submission, even wait an extra cycle if you need to, get lots of people to read it, etc. to give yourself the best shot. Good luck!
K99s are hard to get because they are K99/R00 awards, so you will have some training but they have to also judge you as an R candidate. The goal of those awards is to get people to the R01 faster, so they are looking for candidates and research studies who can train for a couple of years, run an independent study a couple of years, and then be ready for R01.
I have a K99/R00 and am currently on the job market. It definitely helps although it seems that some people don't know exactly what they are yet (I had to explain it to many people!). I believe their success rates are slightly lower than other K awards and they are lower than NRSAs. Two important things to consider for potential applicants …
ONE is that you must transfer from trainee to faculty after the second year (or sooner) so there is some degree of gamble as to whether you will land your most desirable job in that time frame. I know someone who settled on a position he didn't really want because he was on the job market during a rough period but would have lost the grant if he did not take it.
Perhaps more important TWO is that the position you ultimately take must allow you to dedicate 75% of your effort to research during all 3 R00 years. The NIH is pretty strict on this. 75% research equates to approximately a 1 and 1 classroom teaching load. At many universities you can buy out of teaching or negotiate less using the money in this grant but not all schools allow people to decrease their teaching loads in this way. Other schools will not have this option - SLACs, R2s, etc may not allow you to reduce your teaching load this low. So, K99/R00 grants are limiting in terms of what types of schools one would ultimately work at.
That said, they are wonderful in how they support research and training, the POs are incredibly helpful, and it is a great bargaining chip when it comes to the job market.
Thanks for the great replies! So…sounds like the K99/R00 is an excellent option but hard to get and potentially restrictive in terms of timeline and choice of schools. What about the other Ks? I started reading about the K01 but got a bit confused because of the lines "…some ICs use the K01 award for individuals who propose to train in a new field or for individuals who have had a hiatus in their research career because of illness or pressing family circumstances. Other ICs utilize the K01 award to increase research workforce diversity by providing enhanced research career development opportunities." These situations don't apply to me. Also, NICHD, the institute funding my NRSA, only funds K01s in the areas of Medical Rehabilitation Medicine, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Population Research, none of which are exactly my specialty. So - are there other Ks to check out or is the K99 the best bet?
Relatedly, I know this is highly variable for different researchers, but is it better to go for a K or for one of the smaller/more exploratory Rs (R03, R21)? My postdoc project, which is just getting off the ground, involves neuroimaging and will require some additional funds beyond my NRSA allowance, but I could carry it out with either a K or with an R, and I'm wondering what makes the most sense from a career development perspective.
You might want to check with your institution because many do not allow postdocs to be PIs on grants - which would be required to apply for an R03 or R21. For the K awards they are considered "mentored" awards which means the mentor is technically the PI (although you are the one who sees the money).
If SLACs are of interest to you, I would advise against applying for the K99R00. In the application you have to describe your career objectives and if you describe SLACs I believe this will hurt your chances substantially because those positions are unlikely to support R00 activities (75% effort, resources for research, etc). They definitely do not want to fund anyone who they think will forfeit the award later. Program Officers would likely have good advice for you about which awards are best and I would suggest contacting them about your particular situation.
I should add that I'm really interested in SLACs, and a bit worried that a K99/R00 could actually be seen as a liability, in that SCs at SLACs might not expect applicants with K99/R00 awards would be interested in taking positions there (esp. if it would mean forfeiting the award).
One other thing to note about the K99 is that it is the only NIH postdoc grant for which non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply.
I have heard the K99/R00 is also biased slightly in that they seemingly prefer clinical folks. In speaking with past applicants it is also very important when writing the R portion to have specific job sites in mind as it helps the committee evaluate whether you are thinking realistically about necessary resources. It should also be noted that you are expected to compete for an R01 in the R phase of the grant, so you MUST submit an R01 (which usually requires extensive pilot data) within your first two years at your place of hire. All told, and to parrot what others have said, the K99/R00 is really tailored for people looking to transition into a position at an R1.
Are there K awards that would be a good fit for candidates who may/may not be headed to R1s, or is the K just not a good mechanism for all the SLAC- and R2-bound folks out there?