K Awards and Effort Reporting

K Awards are Career Development Awards to support biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences.

K Awards are issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and provide support for intensive development experiences in one of the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. They provide up to five years of funding to enable faculty to develop careers as outstanding teacher-scholars and achieve independent research funding.

K awards typically require a 75% commitment of full-time professional effort with a salary based on a full-time, 12-month staff appointment. Each participating NIH Institute or Center has specific eligibility criteria and award provisions. Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements (PAs) must be reviewed carefully to ensure compliance with salary limitations and effort commitments.

Determining Full-Time Professional Effort for K Awards

On August 3, 2004, the NIH issued a policy announcing that the criteria for estimating and reporting effort on K awards should be consistent with other NIH funding mechanisms. Previously, NIH defined the basis for effort commitment to K awards as encompassing the entirety of an investigator's professional commitments, both within and outside the application institution. This definition has been problematic for institutions. In response to this concern, NIH issued the policy, which indicates that a career award recipient meets the required commitment of total professional effort as long as:

  • the individual has a full-time appointment with the applicant organization;
  • the minimum percentage of the candidate's commitment required for the proposed career award experience is covered by that appointment.

Sharing K Award Effort with Effort on Another Federal Project

For competing applications submitted for February 1, 2004 and later: Mentored career award recipients (in the last two years of career award support) are encouraged by the NIH to obtain funding from NIH either as:

  • Principal Investigator on a competing research grant award or cooperative agreement
  • Project leader on a competing multi-project award

At the time the research grant is awarded, the effort required on the career award may be:

  • reduced to no less than 50 percent; and
  • replaced by effort from the research award so that the total level of research commitment remains at 75 percent or more for the duration of the mentored career award.

This reduction must be approved by the NIH. This policy applies to the following mentored career award mechanisms:

  • K01
  • K07 (developmental only)
  • K08
  • K22
  • K23
  • K25
  • Individuals mentored through institutional K12 awards

Visit the NIH K Kiosk for more information about NIH Career Development Awards.