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A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Posted on January 15, 2009

Valerie Maholmes (bio) talks to early career researchers about funding.


I would encourage early-career, mid-career senior investigators to develop a relationship with the program staff at NICHD and any NIH institute. It's important to develop that relationship for a couple of reasons. One, we would certainly be inclined to inform you of the new initiatives that are coming forward to make sure that you're signed up for those listserves, so that as new program announcements or requests for applications as we call them, as they become available, and as they are relevant to your particular area of research, then we can make sure that you're pointed in the right direction, and that you can get that information as it comes hot off the press.

But also in developing that relationship, it helps us to know where the field is headed. So it's a mutually beneficial kind of relationship. We certainly tell you about the opportunities that are available, but those opportunities that are available come to be available because we learn from the field where the science is headed; what some of the emerging questions are; what some of the emerging innovations in science might be; the new technologies, new methodological approaches; and those sorts of things.

So, for new investigators, there certainly are the career development awards for individuals who are, later in their post-doctoral training, they might consider the K99 mechanism. It's a relatively new mechanism that is available to individuals who are in the latter part of their post-doctoral experience, and who need a year or two of training and, so that they can then move to their institution with funding. Kind of like a mini-RO1, and they can take that funding with them to their new institution and begin doing their research.

So it's really, I think, a very unique mechanism that brings together the career development award and a research award, so that there can be a smooth transition from the mentored portion of the career development into independence, because the goal for us is to help individuals move from a mentored stage to an independent research career, and that K99 is a really unique mechanism that will allow them to do that.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 Leadership Training Institute in Bethesda, MD.


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