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Career Development Awards

Posted on January 14, 2008

F. Xavier Castellanos (bio) explains how career development awards make entry-level researchers attractive to institutions.

 

The first two years are really a demonstration that one has the drive, the ability, and the mentors to put this together, and it takes at least that long to put together a proposal that then gets reviewed along with all the other grants and always goes through at least two stages, sometimes three, before it's funded. And so then once that's funded, the NIH says that the government will pay 75 to 100% of that person's salary for five years, which makes them a very good bet for a medical school to say, "Okay, well, then we'll give them the space, and we'll give them the support because this is someone that has a chance of making it further."

And so that's the next phase, and so if someone has a K Award, they have to have at least three-quarters of their time available for their research and their research training, and there's all kinds of federal regulations and laws and all of that about that.

So even with all the support, it's only a minority of individuals who go from that K Award to then going to the next step of getting the really competitive sort of open-weight-class grants, the R01s, and then getting the next R01, and so on and so forth. So it's a funnel that continually winnows down the pole, and it's so challenging, which is going back to the idea that it has to be something that someone needs to do. That's essential. It's not sufficient, but it's essential, and if that's the case, then it starts with finding the time.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in September 2007.

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