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Grants and Funding: Extramural Programs (EP)

FAQ for NLM Independent Career Development Award for Biomedical Informatics (K22)

Q1: What is the purpose of the K22 award?

A: To provide assistance for informaticians who are establishing their first independent research programs in clinical informatics, public health informatics, bioinformatics or translational informatics. To activate the K22 award, a successful candidate must have been offered and accepted a tenure-track, full-time assistant professor position (or equivalent) at an eligible institution with the appropriate infrastructure to support the proposed research program and a history of external research funding. The institution need not be academic, but must provide comparable infrastructure and resources.

Q2: Who is eligible?

A: The K22 award is available to individuals with health professional or research degrees and formal postdoctoral training in biomedical informatics. To apply, a candidate must have completed two years or more of postdoctoral, mentored research or have been in an independent research position for less than two years at the time the application is submitted.

Q3: I have an MD and am working on a PhD. Can I use this award to support me while I finish my PhD?

A: No, the award is for those who have completed their education and are starting their careers as researchers/informaticians. See Q1 above for what is meant by starting their careers.

Q4: I have a PhD in Computer Sciences and 2 years of postdoctoral experience in software development. Can I apply for this award?

A: No, at least 2 years of postdoctoral training in biomedical informatics is required. The K99 Pathway to Independence award might meet your needs.

Q5: I have a PhD in Nursing, specializing in care for the dying. Can I apply?

A: That depends. The award is available only to those who are starting careers in informatics research. See Q1 above for the meaning of starting careers.

Q6: I haven't been hired yet; can I still apply?

A: Yes, the unique feature of the K-22 award is that individuals may apply without an independent faculty position, while they are still in a "mentored" position. Successful postdoctoral applicants will be given up to 12 months to accept an independent, preferably tenure-track, position at a sponsoring institution before an award can be activated. For postdoctoral applicants, the sponsoring institution for a K22 award can be their current institution or a new institution.

Q7: I just got a faculty position in a medical school. Can I apply?

A: Candidates already in their first independent research position in a biomedical informatics field relevant to the mission and/or research priorities of NLM may apply for this award in the first or second year of this position.

Q8: My teaching and clinical responsibilities take up 50% of my time. Can I apply for this support to cover the rest of my salary?

A: No. Recipients of this award must devote a minimum of 75 percent effort to the proposed research program. The remaining 25 percent effort can be divided among other clinical and teaching activities only if they are consistent with the program goals, i.e. the candidate's development into a research informatician. Under unusual and pressing circumstances, an awardee may submit a written request to the awarding component, requesting a reduction in professional effort below 75 percent. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis during the award period. In no case will it be permissible to work at a rate of less than 50 percent effort.

Q9: What is the salary ceiling for this award?

A: An NLM K22 award will provide a salary up to $85,000 plus fringe benefits. The total salary requested must be based on a full-time, 12-month staff appointment requiring the candidate to devote a minimum of 75 percent effort to conducting informatics research, with the remaining effort being devoted to activities related to the development of a successful research career. The salary must be consistent both with the established salary structure at the institution and with salaries actually provided by the institution from its own funds to other staff members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities in the department concerned.

Q10: What can I use the research and development funds for?

A: Up to $50,000 per year will be provided to cover the expenses of starting up a research program, including: (a) salaries for technical support, consultant costs, equipment, supplies; (b) travel to scientific meetings and training; (c) statistical services (including personnel and computing resources); and (d) other research-related expenses. Restrictions: Salary for mentors, secretarial and administrative assistance, etc. is NOT allowed. These funds cannot be used for tuition or course fees.

Q11: I work for a company now. Can I apply?

A: No, only domestic nonprofit, public or private institutions, such as medical, dental or nursing schools or other institutions of higher education may apply.

Q12: Who will review my application?

A: The NLM will assemble a group of reviewers with appropriate expertise.

Q13: What criteria will be used to evaluate my proposal?

A: The review criteria are as set out in section V.2 of the K22 funding opportunity announcement (FOA): Candidate, Career Development Plan, Research Plan, Consultants and Collaborators, Environment and Institutional Commitment to the Candidate. Please refer to the FOA for details.

Q14: What type of budget is required?

A: Use the SF424 (R&R) Detailed Budget component, as stated in the FOA in section IV.6.F., and follow the instructions in Part I.4.7 (R&R Budget Component) of the Application Guide.

Q15: Do I need a mentor for my K22 grant?

A: No, the K22 is meant to help you start your independent research career.

Q16: How much detail is required to review my mentored activity up to this point?

A: Provide sufficient detail to give reviewers a clear picture of your responsibilities and contributions to the work you have done.

Q17: How much detail is required to describe available resources?

A: In conjunction with your budget justification, this information gives reviewers evidence they need to feel confident that you have the resources you need to be successful. The amount of detail depends on the work you intend to undertake and on whether you have already identified the sponsoring organization.

Q18: How can I describe a research plan when I don't have the job yet?

A: The research plan should provide reviewers with the research question and approach you would use and the kinds of resources you would employ to test your hypothesis. It should not be specific to the resources available at your current institution unless you have already obtained a position there.

Q19: Should I continue the research I've been doing in my postdoctoral years?

A: Your K22 project should be a well-designed research project appropriate to launching your independent career, showing innovation and likely to set the stage for new research directions. The project should be relevant to the mission and/or research objectives of NLM. You should contact the NLM Program Officer listed on our NLM K22 Web page as appropriate to your informatics research area to address any questions on the relevance of your project.

Q20: If I am successful in getting an R01 grant before my K22 ends, what happens?

A: The level of your effort on the K22 will be adjusted to no less than 50 percent; the career award may also be adjusted to avoid budget overlap. See for more details. Please note that although NOT-OD-08-065 refers to "mentored" K22 award, this policy will also apply to NLM's K22 award.