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NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards (DP5)

Request for Nominations

The NIH Director’s DP5 Early Independence Award (RFA-RM-19-008) provides an opportunity for exceptional graduate students and clinical fellows to forgo the traditional post-doctoral training period and move directly into an independent faculty-level position. The MUSC Office of Research Development invites faculty advisors from all MUSC Colleges, Departments, and Divisions to nominate promising junior scientists for this limited-submission program.


Competitive candidates (either U.S. or non-U.S. citizens) will have a strong record of research productivity, leadership accomplishments, and compelling rationale for early independence. DP5 Principal Investigators (PIs) must have completed their doctoral degree or clinical training (includes residency and fellowship) between June 1, 2018 and Sept 30, 2020. Importantly, the PI may not be functionally independent at the time of application submission (see Section 3.1 of the FOA for details).

Nomination Timeline

MUSC may submit two applications for this award. Faculty advisors should submit nomination materials to Dr. Alexis Nagel ( in the Office of Research Development by Friday, June 7, 2019, 5 p.m. Candidates will be notified no later than June 24, 2019 regarding the final decision. The ORD is able to offer support to the chosen candidate for proposal development.

Nomination Packet

DP5 candidates are required to have significant institutional commitment, including the support of their department to conduct full-time independent research. Please submit a combined PDF document including:

  1. Candidate biosketch
  2. Specific Aims (see NIH FOA for specific format)
  3. Nominator Letter. Must Include:
  • Faculty nominator name, title, department, email
  • Candidate name, title, department, email
  • A short description of the PIs proposed research and how this is distinct from the research of the candidate’s primary mentor.
  • Details regarding the appointment of the DP5 PI and institutional resource commitments to the candidate (e.g., lab space, equipment, and/or administrative support). Confirm the PI will be able to devote at least 80% effort to independent research activities for all years of the DP5 project period.
  • Signatures of both the faculty nominator and the Department Chair or Division Chief of the candidate’s target Department.

Sponsor Deadlines

The NIH letter of intent deadline is August 13, 2019. The deadline for the NIH application is September 13, 2019. For additional information, please visit the NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Research Webpage.