Early Stage and Early Established Investigators

The NIH offers several designations that support early career scientists.

Learn more on the NIH's website.

The Early Stage Investigator and Early Established Investigator is identified by their eRA Commons profile. Investigators should confirm that the details of their profile are correct, including identifying terminal degree. This is especially important for those with doctorate-level degrees who later received masters-level degrees (e.g. MPH, MSCR).

Early Stage and Early Established Investigator Policies and FAQs page

An ESI is a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award. A list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered an ESI can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/policy/early-investigators/list-smaller-grants.htm. ESIs are encouraged to enter the date of their terminal research degree or the end date of their post-graduate clinical training in their eRA Commons profile to ensure their correct identification.

Meritorious R01-equivalent applications with ESI PD/PIs will be prioritized for funding. By providing funding priority for ESIs, NIH intends to encourage funding applications that involve researchers earlier in their career.

Please refer to NOT-OD-17-101 for additional details.

Extensions for ESI status

  • NOT-OD-18-235 effective immediately, NIH will approve an ESI extension of one year for childbirth within the ESI period. PDs/PIs must provide the child’s date of birth in the extension request justification on the NIH Extension portal
  • More information on specific instances and the process for requesting extensions, see FAQ

An EEI is a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01-equivalent research award as an ESI.

A meritorious application with a designated PD/PI EEI may be prioritized for funding if:

  1. The EEI lost or is at risk for losing all NIH research support if not funded by competing awards this year, OR
  2. The EEI is supported by only one active award.

Please refer to NOT-OD-17-101 for additional details.