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Frequently Asked Questions
NIH New and Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Policies
Initial Posting: January 12, 2009
Last Revised: January 3, 2012
Related NIH Staff FAQs Related NIH Staff FAQs      


    I. General Issues
    1. How does NIH describe a New Investigator?
    2. How does NIH describe an Early Stage Investigator (ESI)?
    3. What is the implication/significance of ESI versus NI? Since ESI is a subgroup of NI, what is the purpose of ESI?
    4. If I am an NI or ESI, how do I ensure that NIH recognizes me as such?
    5. How does NIH recognize New Investigators?
    6. How does NIH recognize ESIs?
    7. Who has the ability in the electronic system to update NI or ESI status?
    8. Is verification of degree completion date required and accomplished via a third party?
    9. How do I get an eRA Commons account?
    10. Which grant opportunities are available to ESIs?
    11. How can institutions assist NIH in its commitment to ESIs?
    12. Are there other special initiatives or programs for scientists just beginning their independent careers?
    13. I am a New Investigator/Early Stage Investigator (ESI), but this designation does not appear when I view the grant folder in the NIH Commons. How can I correct the information?

    II. Eligibility for Consideration as a New Investigator
    1. Am I ineligible for New Investigator status if I was the PD/PI for a (single-project) research award?
    2. How is my New Investigator status changed if I am part of a multi-project award?
    3. How is my New Investigator status changed if I am leading a subcontract to an NIH funded award?
    4. Are research contracts considered in determining New Investigator status?
    5. As the PD/PI of a separately awarded component of a multisite clinical trial, I believe that my role is not equivalent to an investigator who received substantial, competing NIH research grant support. Can I submit a request to re-instate my New Investigator status?
    6. Will receiving a grant from another Federal agency such as the National Science Foundation, or a private agency such as the American Cancer Society, change my status as a New Investigator?
    7. Are former recipients of R23 or R29 grants eligible for new investigator status?
    8. I submitted an application for an activity code that does not lead to loss of New Investigator status, but before award it was converted into an activity code that does lead to loss of NI status. Can I still be considered a New or Early Stage Investigator?
    9. I’m a New Investigator and I’ve agreed to be part of a multi-PI application, but the application is for a mechanism where I would lose my NI status. If the application is awarded, is there any way I can keep my NI status, especially if my role on the application is small?

    III. Eligibility For Consideration As An Early Stage Investigator
    1. In terms of qualification for the ESI designation, why are postdoctoral periods treated differently than medical residency periods, especially since residencies prepare for clinical research?
    2. Can individuals that are within 10 years of completing a mentored career development award be considered ESIs?
    3. I finished my Ph.D. in November but didn’t graduate until the spring. What date should I use for the date of my terminal research degree?
    4. Can medical specialty or subspecialty training be considered a part of medical residency?
    5. I performed two medical residencies. Which one will be considered the start of my 10 year ESI period?
    6. I earned a Masters of Business Administration after my Ph.D. Can my M.B.A. be considered my terminal research degree? What about an M.P.H?
    7. What if I did not complete a doctoral degree? What do I enter as my terminal degree?
    8. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to be considered a New or Early Stage Investigator?
    9. If I am a New or Early Stage Investigator, will all my research grant applications receive special consideration?
    10. I have ESI status but I plan to submit a Multiple PI application. Will my application be flagged as ESI?
    11. I had an R01 several years ago but have no R01 now. Can I be considered an ESI?
    12. May I apply from a foreign institution?
    13. Can investigators at small businesses be considered ESIs?
    14. Can investigators at government agencies, non-academic, and/ or for-profit organizations be considered ESIs?
    15. I am a scientist in the NIH Intramural Program. Can I be considered for ESI status?
    16. I’ve entered the date of my terminal research degree and/or the end of residency date. Where do I look to find my ESI status?

    IV. Extension Of Early Stage Investigator Status

      A. Extension Request Process

    1. How do I request an extension of my ESI status?
    2. When should I apply for an ESI extension?
    3. I worked part time for six months: 75% for two months; 25% for two months; 50% for 2 months. How should I calculate my request for an extension?
    4. Must the application for an extension come from or be endorsed by an institution?
    5. Is documentation required?
    6. Will NIH ask for more information to support my request for an extension?
    7. What is the maximum ESI extension that I can request?
    8. If I request and receive an extension and another issue comes up, can I ask for a second extension?
    9. How will I know if my extension has been granted?
    10. Can you provide a few clear samples of requests for extension of the ESI period?
    11. Why is there a limit of 300 words in the form to request an ESI extension?

      B. ESI Extensions Committee

    1. Who will make the decision about my request for an extension?
    2. How long will it take to get a response?
    3. Can I appeal the decision of the ESI Extension Committee?
    4. Can I talk to someone about my situation?

      C. Reasons for ESI Extension Requests

    1. What is the definition of disability?
    2. I have a chronic illness that generally impairs my ability to work full time. Am I eligible for an extension? If so, how long can this extension last?
    3. I had a hiatus in my research career to take care of family members. Can I request an extension in my ESI status?
    4. I had a delay in my research due to a flood in our animal facility that resulted in the loss of a valuable mutant mouse colony. May I request an extension of the time equivalent to the time required to replace my experimental mouse colony and restart my research career?
    5. I spent 4 years conducting research in industry before taking my first academic position. Can I request an extension of my ESI to account for time out of academia?
    6. Can I request an extension to cover time away from research while I was employed in a different industry (such as telecommunications), in the government (in extramural grants administration, or working in private medical practice?
    7. I was unemployed for 2 years after my terminal research degree. Can I request an extension of my ESI period to cover this time away from research?
    8. I spent time in a research staff associate position and was not permitted to apply for NIH grant support. Can I request an extension of my ESI period to cover this time away from research?
    9. I spent several years as a clinical fellow after my MD and my residency before I started my research training. Can I extend my ESI status?
    10. Is there an expected amount of time for requests for extensions due to parental leave?
    11. Can I request an extension for changing research fields?
    12. Can I request an extension for clinical responsibilities associated with a faculty appointment or private practice?
    13. Because I am part of a dual-career couple, I took a less than ideal research position so that I could remain in the same city as my spouse. Can I request an extension for this time period?
    14. My military spouse and I lived in a remote location where my spouse was stationed. Because this location was so remote, I was not able to obtain employment. Can I request an extension for this time away from research?
    15. How much information should I submit to justify an extension request for a chronic illness or family issue that resulted in low productivity?
    16. I decided to stay home for six years until my child reached school age. During that time I had sporadic part time work related to my scientific interests. May I request an extension of 72 months?
    17. I have an M.D. and I performed a fellowship following my degree that included research and clinical periods. Can I request an extension for the full fellowship period?
    18. Is time spent performing clinical service payback eligible for an extension?
    19. May I submit an extension request if I had a hiatus from research because I had to fulfill teaching requirements as a condition of my student loan?
    20. I had to attain a visa before I could begin working in a research position in the United States. May I submit an extension request for time spent waiting for the visa to process? What if my home country requires that I maintain residency before applying for the visa – does this waiting period before applying qualify for an extension?
    21. Does receipt of a Career Development (K) award enable me to request an extension of the ESI period?
    22. May I submit an extension request for the time I spent in training as part of my NIH research career development (K) award?
    23. I am a new PD/PI and it took a year from when I started my academic position until my lab was ready to use. May I submit an extension request for time spent waiting for my lab to be constructed?
    24. Does receipt of a tenure clock extension from my university qualify me for an ESI extension?
    25. How should I submit my request for a hiatus due to active military service?
    26. Does time spent preparing for and taking Board certifications qualify as a reason to request an extension?
    27. May I submit an extension request for completion of a non-degree educational program for which I received a certificate?
    28. May I submit an extension request for didactic training that occurred during my postdoctoral training period?

    V. Identifying Applications from NIs and ESIs
    1. I am an ESI and I am planning to submit a research grant application jointly with two other investigators. Will my ESI status ensure special consideration for our application?
    2. How are applications from ESIs identified in the review process?
    3. I requested and was granted an ESI extension after submitting my R01 or DP2 application and my ESI status on the application is not correct. How can I change it?
    4. When is NI status calculated for an application?
    5. When does a PI lose NI status?
    6. According to my eRA commons profile, my ESI status expires June 2012. Does this mean my ESI status will expire on the first or last of June?

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    I. General Issues
    1. How does NIH describe a New Investigator?

      New Investigator is an NIH research grant applicant who has not yet competed successfully for a substantial, NIH research grant. For example, a Program Director/ Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has previously received a competing NIH R01 research grant is no longer considered a New Investigator. However, a PD/PI who has received a small grant (R03) or an Exploratory, Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) retains his or her status as a New Investigator. For a complete list of NIH grants that do not disqualify a PD/PI from being considered a New Investigator, visit http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/new_investigators/resources.htm.

    2. How does NIH describe an Early Stage Investigator (ESI)?

      An ESI, or Early Stage Investigator, is a New Investigator who has completed his or her terminal research degree or medical residency—whichever date is later—within the past 10 years and has not yet been awarded a substantial, competing NIH research grant. The dates that start the period of classification as an Early Stage investigator are entered in the investigators eRA Commons Profile (https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/).  Under certain circumstances an extension to the ESI period may be granted.

    3. What is the implication/significance of ESI versus NI? Since ESI is a subgroup of NI, what is the purpose of ESI?

      A New Investigator (NI) is an NIH research grant applicant who has not yet competed successfully for a substantial, competing NIH research grant. An Early Stage Investigator (ESI) is a new investigator who has completed his or her terminal research degree or medical residency—whichever date is later—within the past 10 years and has not yet competed successfully for a substantial, competing NIH research grant. The ESI designation helps to differentiate between established and early-career investigators, and helps NIH meet the goal of accelerating the transition to an independent scientific career. It is expected that ESIs will constitute the majority of funded NIs.

    4. If I am an NI or ESI, how do I ensure that NIH recognizes me as such?

      Software within the eRA Commons will check first for New Investigator status based on the individual’s previous award history. For individuals identified as New Investigators, the software will calculate the ten year window of ESI status based on the date of the terminal research degree or the residency end date entered in the investigator’s Profile. To ensure that NIH recognizes your ESI status, you must update your eRA Commons profile to reflect the date of completion of your terminal research degree or the end of your residency.

    5. How does NIH recognize New Investigators?

      A New Investigator is identified in the NIH eRA Commons by searching for evidence of previous substantial research grant awards. For a complete list of NIH grants that do not disqualify a PD/PI from being considered a New Investigator, visit http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/new_investigators/resources.htm.

    6. How does NIH recognize ESIs?

      ESIs are identified in the eRA Commons (https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/) based on information entered about degree conferral date or the end of residency date, whichever is most recent.

    7. Who has the ability in the electronic system to update NI or ESI status?

      NI and ESI status is determined automatically by the functionality built into eRA Commons, based on the investigator’s record of receiving NIH grants and the date of their terminal degree and/or completion of medical residency. If an extension to the ESI 10-year period is granted by the ESI Extensions Committee, the eRA Commons account is updated by NIH staff.

    8. Is verification of degree completion date required and accomplished via a third party?

      Degree and medical residency completion dates are provided by the applicant. Applicants are expected to provide true, accurate, and complete information and to produce documentation when requested. (Making false statements to the federal government can result in severe penalties).

    9. How do I get an eRA Commons account?

      Institutions must be registered with the NIH eRA Commons before faculty and staff can take advantage of electronic submission and retrieval of grant information. Only an individual with signing authority for the institution in grant related matters can register an institution. This individual is designated the “Signing Official.”

      For most institutions, the Signing Official is located in the institution’s Office of Sponsored Research or its equivalent. Researchers should work through their institution’s Office of Sponsored Research or its equivalent to establish their own eRA Commons account. If you are unable to identify your institution’s Signing Official, please contact the NIH eRA Commons Help Desk at commons@od.nih.gov

      Please note that an investigator will have a single Commons account and unique Commons ID for their entire career. Investigators will be affiliated with different institutions during their careers and may be affiliated with more than one institution at a given time.

    10. Which grant opportunities are available to ESIs?

      In general, all grant opportunities are open to New and Early Stage investigators. You can find all NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) at http://grants.nih.gov. New investigators and ESIs may respond to specific Requests for Applications (RFAs) or Program Announcements (PAs) Including “Parent” FOAs such as R01 Parent: PA-07-070. Other parent announcements can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/parent_announcements.htm. Please note, however, that ESI status will be considered only on applications for traditional research grants (R01s) and the NIH Directors New Innovator Awards (DP2s). Only ESIs may apply for DP2s.

    11. How can institutions assist NIH in its commitment to ESIs?

      Institutions function as partners to the NIH in their ability to identify and attract biomedical researchers of the highest caliber. We urge institutions to continue to look for ways to reduce the duration of graduate and postdoctoral training; to enable new investigators to move quickly to research independence; and to compete successfully for extramural funding.

    12. Are there other special initiatives or programs for scientists just beginning their independent careers?

      A number of opportunities are highlighted on the New and Early Stage Investigator Website at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm. Two NIH-wide awards of particular note include the Pathway to Independence Award (K99-R00) and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2). The Pathway to Independence Award provides support as a postdoctoral scholar transitions from a training position to a faculty position. The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (DP2) is designed to stimulate applications for grants to support highly innovative research approaches. Applicants for DP2s must follow the eligibility guidelines in the announcement.

      The New and Early Stage Investigator Website includes links to New Investigator pages at each of the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs). IC websites frequently include a description of IC specific policies and initiatives for scientists at the beginning of their independent careers.

    13. I am a New Investigator/Early Stage Investigator (ESI), but this designation does not appear when I view the grant folder in the NIH Commons. How can I correct the information?

      The parameters for identifying New Investigators are described in the definition of New Investigator that appears on the New Investigator Webpage. The first step in making sure that you are correctly designated as a New or Early Stage Investigator is to go into your NIH Commons Profile and make sure the degree completion and/or the end of residency date has been correctly entered. If the Profile screens indicate that you are a New Investigator or an ESI, that information should be correctly assigned to any R01 or DP2 application that you submit in the future (until you are no longer eligible). If you believe that your ESI eligibility window needs to be extended because of a lapse in your research or research training, you can request an extension using the instructions on the New Investigator Webpage. If you have already submitted an application that doesn't reflect your current New Investigator or ESI status, you can send a note to the helpdesk to request a correction of the new PI/ESI status for the submitted application.


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    II. Eligibility for Consideration as a New Investigator
    1. Am I ineligible for New Investigator status if I was the PD/PI for a (single-project) research award?

      New Investigator status is only applicable if you have not yet competed successfully for a substantial NIH independent research award. For a list of awards that are excluded from consideration as “independent research,” see the Definition of New Investigator.

    2. How is my New Investigator status changed if I am part of a multi-project award?

      If the new investigator is assigned a PD/PI role for the overall multi-project application, the individual will lose their NI status when the award is made.  If the new investigator is the lead of a project or core, but not the PD/PI for the overall application, the individual will retain NI status when the award is made.

    3. How is my New Investigator status changed if I am leading a subcontract to an NIH funded award?

      The lead for a subcontract to a funded NIH award will not lose New Investigator status upon award, as long as they are not the PD/PI role on the overall application.

    4. Are research contracts considered in determining New Investigator status?

      No, NIH only considers successful competition for major grant and cooperative agreement awards (as described in the New Investigator definition), not contracts, in determining New Investigator status.

    5. I was assigned to lead a research project as the Principal Investigator during the non-competing phase of an NIH R01 grant because the previous PI became disabled. Can I still be considered a New Investigator?

      Yes. Only those who have previously competed successfully as PI on a significant independent NIH research grant are excluded from consideration as a New Investigator. If you are in this situation but a subsequent R01 you have submitted does not have New Investigator status you will need to contact the NIH eRA Commons Help Desk at commons@od.nih.gov.

    6. As the PD/PI of a separately awarded component of a multisite clinical trial, I believe that my role is not equivalent to an investigator who received substantial, competing NIH research grant support. Can I submit a request to re-instate my New Investigator status?

      Yes, under certain circumstances. Investigators who are PD/PIs on subject accrual sites that are part of U01 or U10 multisite patient-oriented investigation remain eligible for new investigator status if the following qualifications are met: (1) the participation of the investigator on the subject accrual site in the overall U01 or U10 award must be limited to recruiting subjects and following pre-established protocols; (2) the funding of the subject accrual site must not exceed $150,000 in direct costs; and (3) investigators requesting this consideration must provide a letter from the Coordinating Site U01 or U10 Principal Investigator that affirms the level of participation of the subject accrual site investigators is limited. Although this is not technically a request for an ESI extension, investigators are asked to use the ESI extension request for this purpose.

    7. Will receiving a grant from another Federal agency such as the National Science Foundation, or a private agency such as the American Cancer Society, change my status as a New Investigator?

      No, New Investigator status is determined solely by your NIH award  history (as described in the New Investigator definition).

    8. Are former recipients of R23 or R29 grants eligible for new investigator status?

      No. Both R23 and R29 awards are considered significant NIH research support, and recipients will be disqualified from being considered a new investigator.

    9. I submitted an application for an activity code that does not lead to loss of New Investigator status, but before award it was converted into an activity code that does lead to loss of NI status. Can I still be considered a New or Early Stage Investigator?

      Yes, you can. Please provide the relevant details to the ESI e-mailbox (esi_extensions@mail.nih.gov) to have your status corrected.

    10. I’m a New Investigator and I’ve agreed to be part of a multi-PI application, but the application is for a mechanism where I would lose my NI status. If the application is awarded, is there any way I can keep my NI status, especially if my role on the application is small?

      If the application is awarded, you will no longer be considered a New Investigator, no matter how big or small your role is compared to the other PIs. Investigators should carefully consider and discuss their options with their mentors before they agree to be part of a multi-PI application that would lead to a loss in NI status. New Investigator status will not be restored simply because PIs didn’t realize that they would lose New Investigator status.


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    III. Eligibility For Consideration As An Early Stage Investigator
    1. In terms of qualification for the ESI designation, why are postdoctoral periods treated differently than medical residency periods, especially since residencies prepare for clinical research?

      The 10-year ESI period was designed to allow for a consistent time period of research activities among applicants. While postdoctoral periods generally are devoted to research and research training activities, medical residency periods generally are not.

    2. Can individuals that are within 10 years of completing a mentored career development award be considered ESIs?

      Individuals that are within 10 years of completing a mentored career development award are only considered ESIs if they are also NIs who are within 10 years of completing their terminal research degree or medical residency.

    3. I finished my Ph.D. in November but didn’t graduate until the spring. What date should I use for the date of my terminal research degree?

      The formal date of receipt of your Ph.D. is the date the degree was conferred, as indicated on your diploma and/or transcript. That date determines the beginning of your 10 year window as an Early Stage Investigator.

    4. Can medical specialty or subspecialty training be considered a part of medical residency?

      No. The clinical fellowship training in a medical specialty or subspecialty in the years that follow the internship/residency period is not considered a part of residency for the purpose of this policy. Often the clinical fellowship period will consist of a mixture of clinical and research training. The time spent in research training will be considered as applicable toward the 10 years of research and research training that characterizes the period of ESI status. The time spent in clinical fellowship training and the associated clinical care that is unrelated to research will be considered favorably in a request for extension of the ESI period.

    5. I performed two medical residencies. Which one will be considered the start of my 10 year ESI period?

      The ending date of the second residency is considered the start date of your 10 year ESI period.

    6. I earned a Masters of Business Administration after my Ph.D. Can my M.B.A. be considered my terminal research degree? What about an M.P.H?

      Generally, an M.B.A. or an M.F.A. and similar degrees are not considered research degrees. If you have such a degree after your Ph.D. or M.D., please indicate that this is not your terminal research degree. However, some types of research Master’s degrees (like M.S. or M.P.H) can be considered terminal if they mark the beginning of a period of research or research training or the new degree substantially expands or advances an individual’s skills within a field related to the NIH mission. For example, an M.P.H. or a comparable research degree earned after the medical degree may initiate a period of research and should be listed as the terminal research degree even when it follows a degree like the Ph.D.. The conferral date for the terminal research degree will mark the beginning of the ESI status period.

    7. What if I did not complete a doctoral degree? What do I enter as my terminal degree?

      Individuals without a doctoral degree should enter their highest research degree, which could be a Masters or a Bachelors degree in some cases.

    8. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to be considered a New or Early Stage Investigator?

      No. There are no citizenship or residency requirements for ESI (or New Investigator) status.

    9. If I am a New or Early Stage Investigator, will all my research grant applications receive special consideration?

      No. Only applications for R01 and DP2 research grants will receive special consideration.

    10. I have ESI status but I plan to submit a Multiple PI application. Will my application be flagged as ESI?

      As with applications from New Investigators (see the Definition of New Investigator at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm), a multiple PD/PI R01 application will be flagged as an ESI application only if all the listed PD/PIs have ESI status at the time of submission.

    11. I had an R01 several years ago but have no R01 now. Can I be considered an ESI?

      No. If you have competed successfully for a substantial NIH grant at any time in your career, you will no longer be considered a New Investigator and therefore you will not be considered an Early Stage Investigator.

    12. May I apply from a foreign institution?

      Yes. ESI status is associated with individual investigators and the advantages offered are designed to accelerate the transition to independence. They can apply to investigators in foreign settings as well as domestic settings. Applicants from foreign institutions may find the FAQs available at http://fic.nih.gov/Grants/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx useful.

    13. Can investigators at small businesses be considered ESIs?

      Yes, but the advantages of ESI status apply only to applicants for traditional NIH research grants (R01s) and NIH Director’s New Innovator Grants (DP2s). The advantages of New and Early Stage Investigator status do not apply to SBIR and STTR grants reserved for small businesses. Information on SBIR and STTR can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir.htm.

    14. Can investigators at government agencies, non-academic, and/ or for-profit organizations be considered ESIs?

      Yes. Applicants from any organization with an eRA institutional registration can complete the degree date and residency date fields in their eRA Commons Profile for classification as an ESI. PD/PIs should work through their institution’s Office of Sponsored Research or its equivalent to establish an eRA Commons account. If you are unable to identify your institution’s Signing Official, please contact the NIH eRA Commons Help Desk at commons@od.nih.gov.

    15. I am a scientist in the NIH Intramural Program. Can I be considered for ESI status?

      With the exception of certain Roadmap programs and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), NIH Intramural scientists are not permitted to apply for extramural grants while associated with the NIH Intramural Program. Those considering transitioning to an extramural position should consult NIH policies for information about changing affiliation and preparing grant applications. (see http://www1.od.nih.gov/oir/sourcebook/ethic-conduct/fund-irp-erp-3-00.htm).

    16. I’ve entered the date of my terminal research degree and/or the end of residency date. Where do I look to find my ESI status?

      Once you have entered the date of your terminal research degree and/or your end of residency date on the Degree/Residency Page of your eRA Commons Profile, your ESI status and the End of Eligibility Date will be displayed. See screenshot.


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    IV. Extension Of Early Stage Investigator Status

      A. Extension Request Process

    1. How do I request an extension of my ESI status?

      A form for requesting an extension of ESI status is provided at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/esi_extension_add.htm. Submitting the completed form will generate an email to the NIH ESI Extensions Committee requesting an extension of the ESI status period. This form must be used to apply for an ESI extension. The policies and procedures for requesting an extension of the period of ESI status are detailed at NOT-OD-09-034. If an extension is granted a new ESI end date will appear in eRA Commons and you will be sent email notification of the change.

    2. When should I apply for an ESI extension?

      You may apply for an extension of the ESI period at any time after the eRA Commons has calculated and displayed your ESI status. PD/PIs are encouraged to update their degree and residency information and when necessary to request extensions well in advance of the due date for any planned R01 application. Early establishment of ESI status will avoid ambiguity about the ESI classification of submitted applications. Extra steps are required and must be initiated by the PD/PI  to reclassify an application after it has been received and assigned. This page includes specific information on the required steps. What time units will be considered in a request?

      Terminal scientific degrees and residency completion dates will be reported as month and year. Similarly, requests for extension should be made in whole months. Rounding up to the next whole month is permissible. For example, if the time away from research is 6 months and 3 weeks, a request of 7 months is appropriate.

    3. I worked part time for six months: 75% for two months; 25% for two months; 50% for 2 months. How should I calculate my request for an extension?

      Prepare a table as shown below, but do not submit it with the initial request. You will be able to submit the table on an email subsequent to the initial request. The key issues which should be included are the time period (for example January 2012 through March 2012), the % time working, the % time away from research, and the reason for the hiatus as described in NOT-OD-09-043.

      Time Period % time working % time away from research % time away from other work activities Reason for hiatus
      November and December 2009 75% 20% 5% Final months of pregnancy; worked part-time
      January and February 2010 25% 75% none Birth of child and first month
      March and April 2010 50% 50% none Stayed home part-time to care for child

    4. Must the application for an extension come from or be endorsed by an institution?

      No, ESI status applies to an individual and requests for extensions are submitted by individuals. It is not necessary to send the request to an institutional official. The individual submitting the request for ESI extension is responsible for providing true, accurate, and complete information.

    5. Is documentation required?

      No. NIH will not request any specific documentation at the time of submitting a request for extension. It will be useful, however, to explicitly describe your time away from research in months and years along with the reason for and the nature of the hiatus. It is possible, that the NIH will request documentation to support your request to better establish a reasonable extension period.

    6. Will NIH ask for more information to support my request for an extension?

      In some cases, NIH may ask for additional information or clarification regarding a request.

    7. What is the maximum ESI extension that I can request?

      120 months. Although most extension requests are for periods less than 24 months, one can request an extension to account for lapses at any time during the ten year research or research training period (120 months) that occurred after the terminal research degree or the completion of medical residency. Those lapses, as indicated in NOT-OD-09-034, must be related to family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, extended periods of additional didactic instruction, disability, illness, active duty military service, loan repayment, natural disasters or comparable disruptive factors. All extension requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the Extension Committee may ask for additional supporting information.

    8. If I request and receive an extension and another issue comes up, can I ask for a second extension?

      Yes. You may request a second extension if a second period away from research or research training occurred within ten years of your terminal research degree or within ten years of completing your medical residency.

    9. How will I know if my extension has been granted?

      You will receive an email response at the email address designated in your eRA Commons account. In addition, the ESI indicator in your eRA Commons Account will change and the end date of your ESI status period will be modified to reflect the extension granted.

    10. Can you provide a few clear samples of requests for extension of the ESI period?

      a. I was enrolled for twelve months in the clinical portion of my Cardiology Fellowship from July 2000 to July 2001. In addition, I had a child and spent 6 months away from research between the period of May 2002 and October 2002. In total, I’m requesting that my ESI status be extended 1 year and six months. According to the eRA Commons the ten year period of my ESI status will end on July 2010. I’m requesting that it be extended until January 2012.

      b. My Ph.D. was granted in November 1999. In August of 2002, my postdoctoral appointment was interrupted and delayed by injuries sustained in a car accident. I was in the hospital and away from the lab for two months until the end of September and then worked only half time for 6 months between October 2002 and March 2003. I’m requesting a 5 month extension of my ESI period. That would extend my ESI period from November 2009 until April 2010.

    11. Why is there a limit of 300 words in the form to request an ESI extension?

      In the form for requesting an extension in the ESI period, we limit the reason for the request because time and experience with past requests has demonstrated that the rationale for a request can be explained clearly in 300 words.  Please be brief but clear, and remember that the most important information is the time away from research for each reason in your extension request.


      B. ESI Extensions Committee

    1. Who will make the decision about my request for an extension?

      An ESI Extensions Committee composed of senior NIH extramural review and program staff evaluates the requests for extensions and makes decisions. The Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center for Scientific Review is responsible for coordinating the committee.

    2. How long will it take to get a response?

      In most cases it is expected that a decision will be made within two weeks. If there are large numbers of requests for extensions or if there are unanswered questions after the first request, the process and the decision may take longer.

    3. Can I appeal the decision of the ESI Extension Committee?

      Decisions of the ESI Extension Committee are not appealable.

    4. Can I talk to someone about my situation?

      Yes.  Please direct any concerns you may have to the mailbox for ESI inquiries (ESINIH@od.nih.gov).  If you feel it is necessary to discuss a special situation, please indicate that in your email, and someone will call you.


      C. Reasons for ESI Extension Requests

    1. What is the definition of disability?

      NIH defines disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

    2. I have a chronic illness that generally impairs my ability to work full time. Am I eligible for an extension? If so, how long can this extension last?

      A chronic illness (mental or physical) could be a valid reason to request an ESI extension. You should prorate the request. For example if the chronic illness led to working only 80% time over a 5 year period within the ESI eligible time frame, you should request a one year extension.

    3. I had a hiatus in my research career to take care of family members. Can I request an extension in my ESI status?

      Yes. Once the date of the terminal research degree and/or the date of residency completion have been entered in the eRA commons, the data system will calculate the end date of ESI status. If there has been a lapse in your research or research training during the ten year period after your terminal research degree or the end of medical residency you can request an extension. In general, the NIH will consider requests to extend the ESI period for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, and active duty military service. Any such request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    4. I had a delay in my research due to a flood in our animal facility that resulted in the loss of a valuable mutant mouse colony. May I request an extension of the time equivalent to the time required to replace my experimental mouse colony and restart my research career?

      Yes. A request for an extension of the ESI period can be based on natural disasters and other catastrophic events that led to a lab shutdown, relocation, or the need to rebuild resources required for your research. This can include a hurricane, fire, flood, earthquake or occurrences like an infection in an animal colony. In your extension request, please indicate the nature of the disaster and the actual time lost until you restarted your research or research training. As with other requested extensions, such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the Extension Committee may ask for additional supporting information. The policies and procedures for requesting an extension of the period of ESI status are detailed at NOT-OD-09-034.

    5. I spent 4 years conducting research in industry before taking my first academic position. Can I request an extension of my ESI to account for time out of academia?

      No. There is no distinction between research or research training time spent in industry and comparable time spent in academia.

    6. Can I request an extension to cover time away from research while I was employed in a different industry (such as telecommunications), in the government (in extramural grants administration, or working in private medical practice?

      No. If the time away from research is a career choice and is not related to medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, natural disasters, active duty military service or comparable factors it will not be considered as the basis for an extension request.

    7. I was unemployed for 2 years after my terminal research degree. Can I request an extension of my ESI period to cover this time away from research?

      Generally, no. Requests for an extension of ESI eligibility related to a period of unemployment will not be granted unless the unemployment period is a direct result of medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, natural disasters, or comparable factors.

    8. I spent time in a research staff associate position and was not permitted to apply for NIH grant support. Can I request an extension of my ESI period to cover this time away from research?

      No. Institutional restrictions on the ability to apply for external research support cannot be used as the basis for an extension request.

    9. I spent several years as a clinical fellow after my MD and my residency before I started my research training. Can I extend my ESI status?

      Probably.  Individuals who have engaged in clinical training after the doctorate or after the completion of an internship/residency can request an extension of the ESI period equivalent to the time away from research.  For example, an MD degree holder who undertook a clinical fellowship after the residency period may ask for an extension of ESI status equivalent to the duration of clinical training leading to qualification in a medical specialty or subspecialty.  Periods of the fellowship, however, that were devoted to research will count against the 10 year ESI period and should not be included in the request for extension.  All such extension requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The policies and procedures for requesting an extension of the period of ESI status are detailed at NOT-OD-09-034.

    10. Is there an expected amount of time for requests for extensions due to parental leave?

      While NIH generally receives requests for extensions due to parental leave of 3 to 6 months, we recognize that experiences differ. The ESI Extension Committee will consider longer and has approved extensions on a case by case basis that correspond to the time away from research.

    11. Can I request an extension for changing research fields?

      Changing research fields is generally not a valid reason for an extension to the ESI period.

    12. Can I request an extension for clinical responsibilities associated with a faculty appointment or private practice?

      No, clinical responsibilities associated with faculty appointment or other position are generally not eligible for an extension of the ESI period.

    13. Because I am part of a dual-career couple, I took a less than ideal research position so that I could remain in the same city as my spouse. Can I request an extension for this time period?

      Time spent in a research position, even if the position is less than ideal, is not a valid reason for extension of the ESI period.

    14. My military spouse and I lived in a remote location where my spouse was stationed. Because this location was so remote, I was not able to obtain employment. Can I request an extension for this time away from research?

      If the remote location was a place where employment options were extremely limited, the ESI extension committee will consider your request. All requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the extension committee may request additional supporting information.

    15. How much information should I submit to justify an extension request for a chronic illness or family issue that resulted in low productivity?

      Extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and detailed information is extremely helpful to appropriately evaluate the request. While you are not obligated to provide medical or personal details, the committee appreciates specific information whenever possible, such as the amount of time that your illness or family issue caused you to remain away from research.

    16. I decided to stay home for six years until my child reached school age. During that time I had sporadic part time work related to my scientific interests. May I request an extension of 72 months?

      The ESI Extension Committee regards this situation as a personal life choice and generally does not approve an extension beyond a reasonable parental leave period. If there are special circumstances (a child with disabilities or an illness for example) this should be described in an ESI extension request and will be evaluated.

    17. I have an M.D. and I performed a fellowship following my degree that included research and clinical periods. Can I request an extension for the full fellowship period?

      In a fellowship, only the time spent performing clinical duties is eligible for an extension. Time spent performing research is not eligible. Please be specific in your request, and provide the time periods when you performed clinical duties.

    18. I am preparing an R01 application for a receipt date next summer. Should I let the committee know my plans to submit so that they will feel an urgency to approve my extension?

      No. It is not appropriate to ask for an extension of a certain period of time so that you can submit your application by a certain date. As with all requests for extensions, you must explicitly describe your time away from research along with the reason for and the nature of the hiatus.

    19. Is time spent performing clinical service payback eligible for an extension?

      Generally, non-research, service payback time is eligible for an extension. All requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the extension committee may request additional supporting information.

    20. May I submit an extension request if I had a hiatus from research because I had to fulfill teaching requirements as a condition of my student loan?

      Generally, requests for non-research, payback time are eligible for extensions. Note that time spent in research while fulfilling the payback obligation should not be included in the time requested.

    21. My employer paid for my graduate education with the condition that I pay back the obligation by working for them in a non-research position for a certain number of years. May I submit an extension request for this type of service payback obligation?

      Time spent fulfilling a payback obligation to an employer is generally acceptable. Note that time spent in research while fulfilling the payback obligation should not be included in the time requested.

    22. I had to attain a visa before I could begin working in a research position in the United States. May I submit an extension request for time spent waiting for the visa to process? What if my home country requires that I maintain residency before applying for the visa – does this waiting period before applying qualify for an extension?

      No. Time spent waiting to process a visa or time spent in the home country before applying for a visa is not eligible for an extension.

    23. Does receipt of a Career Development (K) award enable me to request an extension of the ESI period?

      No. Receipt of a K award is not considered to be a lapse in the research or research training period.

    24. May I submit an extension request for the time I spent in training as part of my NIH research career development (K) award?

      Any time spent in research or research training counts toward the ten year ESI status period, so this would not be a valid request for an extension.

    25. I am a new PD/PI and it took a year from when I started my academic position until my lab was ready to use. May I submit an extension request for time spent waiting for my lab to be constructed?

      Generally, no. Investigators generally use such time to advance their research, such as performing experiments in colleagues’ labs to keep their research going, and/or writing publications or grant applications that are directly relevant to their research. If you feel there are extraordinary circumstances involved, please explain in your request.

    26. Does receipt of a tenure clock extension from my university qualify me for an ESI extension?

      No. The tenure clock is not related to ESI status. ESI status may be extended for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, and active duty military service. It is possible that these same circumstances may have prompted the tenure clock extension, but changes in the tenure clock will not be considered as a reason for extension of ESI status.

    27. How should I submit my request for a hiatus due to active military service?

      You should indicate the time you spent in non-research, active military service. Note that time spent in research while in active military service should not be included in the time requested.

    28. Does time spent preparing for and taking Board certifications qualify as a reason to request an extension?

      No.  Even if required by your Institution, the time spent acquiring Board certifications is not eligible for an extension.

    29. May I submit an extension request for completion of a non-degree educational program for which I received a certificate?

      NIH generally considers extension requests only for periods of time away from research.  If your certificate program involved a defined period of non-research activities that limited research time, then you may submit a request. Please include the details of the certificate program, including the course work, requirements including non-research activities, and duration.  Also be sure to include details on the time away from research that occurred as a result of your participation in the certificate program.

    30. May I submit an extension request for didactic training that occurred during my postdoctoral training period?

      Postdoctoral training is not time away from research, and therefore is not considered a valid reason for an extension.  In addition, didactic training that is expected in a standard postdoctoral position (such as attending lab meetings, presenting or attending conferences, or participating in the occasional university course) should not be considered grounds for an extension. 


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    V. Identifying Applications from NIs and ESIs
    1. I am an ESI and I am planning to submit a research grant application jointly with two other investigators. Will my ESI status ensure special consideration for our application?

      A multiple PD/PI grant application will be flagged for ESI status if all Principal Investigators listed are ESIs. The policy for ESIs on multiple PD/PI applications is parallel to the situation for New Investigators (see the Definition of New Investigator at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm.

    2. How are applications from ESIs identified in the review process?

      The ESI status of the PD/PI(s), on any R01 or DP2 application will be determined at the time of submission. If the PD/PI(s) on the application is/are classified as ESI on the date the application is successfully submitted to Grants.gov, the application will be flagged as ESI and will receive special consideration during the review and funding process. If the application status does not correctly reflect the ESI status on the day of submission, contact ESINIH@od.nih.gov.

    3. I requested and was granted an ESI extension after submitting my R01 or DP2 application and my ESI status on the application is not correct. How can I change it?

      Go into your NIH eRA Commons Profile and make sure that your end of ESI status has been changed; this normally occurs a few days after you receive an email regarding the granting of your request. Then contact the NIH Commons Help Desk at http://ithelpdesk.nih.gov/eRA/ and ask them to ensure that your corrected ESI status is correctly associated with your application.

    4. When is NI status calculated for an application?

      The NI status for an application is calculated based on investigator status on the date the application is successfully submitted to NIH. The application will reflect the NI status regardless of whether the investigator loses NI status because of a substantial award after the submission date. Any NI application will be grouped with other NI applications during peer review. NI status will be reassessed for any pending application after peer review and prior to consideration for award.

    5. When does a PI lose NI status?

      The PI will lose NI status immediately upon receipt of any substantial NIH research grant.

    6. According to my eRA commons profile, my ESI status expires June 2012. Does this mean my ESI status will expire on the first or last of June?

      The official date of expiration is the end of the indicated month; in the example, the expiration date would be June 30, 2012.

    7. I submitted an application within my ESI eligibility window, which ends this month. I plan to submit a resubmission version of this application at the next receipt date, which will be after my eligibility expires. Will my resubmission application be ESI-eligible?

      For individuals who are still New Investigators at the time of resubmission of the A1 application, there is a 13 month period during which the New Investigator can submit the A1 resubmission application to retain ESI status.  That is, if an original application is flagged as an ESI application and it is resubmitted as an amended application (A1) within 13 months after the submission date of the original application, it will retain its ESI status even if your eligibility period has expired. However, if the resubmission application (A1) is submitted more than 13 months after the submission date of the original application, the ESI status and New Investigator status will be recalculated based on the submission date of the resubmission application.  In addition, if you are no longer a New Investigator at the time of submitting the A1 resubmission (because you successfully competed for a significant NIH research award as described in the New Investigator definition), then you cannot have ESI status.


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This page last updated on January 3, 2012
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