Research Training & Career Development Frequently Asked Questions

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Getting Started

Start by answering the following questions, which would be posed to you if you contacted one of the NIDDK training program directors.

  • Are you an M.D. or a Ph.D.?

  • How long ago did you get your degree?

  • Do you want to do basic or clinical research? If clinical, will you be dealing with patients directly or indirectly?

  • What research experience do you have?

  • Where are you located?

  • Are you planning on staying there?

  • Do you have publications?

  • Is your CV up to date?

  • Where would you like to be, career-wise, 10 yrs from now?

Then go to our Eligibility by Career Level pages to look at the appropriate career stage information, or contact us.

The NIDDK supports many kinds of training awards, fellowships, and career development awards. For more information, visit the Training and Career Development page.

You can find a postdoctoral position by:

  • Doing a keyword search using the NIH RePORTer system to see who the NIDDK is currently supporting. Contact the principal investigators directly to see if they are amenable to having another postdoc in their lab. You can limit your search by state and also should limit it to “research grants.” If you are interested in a postdoctoral position in our intramural program, see our Training and Employment page.

The NIDDK offers both intramural and extramural funding opportunities. Support can be in the form of a training grant, where the principal investigator at an institution selects graduate students, medical students, or postdoctoral fellows for training, or in the form of individual fellowships or career development awards. For fellowships and career development awards, applicants identify a sponsor or mentor, complete an application, and have their university or medical school submit it to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on their behalf.

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to receive funding for a training grant, individual fellowship, or career development award, with the exception of the K99/R00. You may apply for an F32 or K award while you are in the process of becoming a permanent resident or citizen, if your institution allows it. R-series grants do not have this restriction.

Applications for diversity supplemental slots are accepted any time until July 1 of the year in which the slot would be awarded. Please visit the section on the Supplemental Slot Program for more information about the application process.

Changes During Award Period

Yes, as long as your project does not change substantially, the new institution will accept your grant, and the new institution can provide an environment, resources, and career development activities comparable to your current institution. To learn more, review the NIDDK instructions on requesting relocation (transfer) for F32 fellowships and K-series projects. You must contact your Research Training and Career Development program director prior to submitting the paperwork to discuss the move and to be assured that it will, or will not, be approved.

Yes, as long as you can identify a new mentor, your project does not change, and your department/division indicates it will still support you. You can keep your current mentor as a long-distance co-mentor as well. Be sure to discuss this change with your Research Training and Career Development program director, who will be the one to approve or disapprove the request.

The NIH allows you to receive the same benefits as anyone employed by your institution. If your local policy is to allow 8 weeks of paid maternity leave, you may draw salary from your K award during that 8-week period. If you wish to take more time off, you may take an unpaid leave of absence if your institution and mentor concur, and your project will still be viable after the leave. Discuss this option with your Research Training and Career Development program director, who is responsible for approving or disapproving your request.

The time you are gone may be added to the end of your funding period, so you will not lose it. For example, should you decide to take an additional 6 months of leave (with your institution’s and mentor’s concurrence), your office can extend the end date of your K award in the final year. This is called a no-cost extension.

T32 Awards

Possibly. First of all, a candidate for any National Research Service Award position must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Second, postdoctoral trainees with no clinical responsibilities (e.g., Ph.D. degree, M.D. degree with no U.S. board certification) and more than 5 years of postdoctoral research experience (i.e., stipend-level 6 or higher) must receive prior approval from the NIDDK before being appointed to an NIDDK training grant. We recommend that you send the trainee's biosketch to your Research Training and Career Development program director for consideration.

No, if you do not have approved pre-doctoral slots available in your T32, you may not appoint a pre-doctoral student.

While technically eligible, the T32 program is not intended to support advanced post-doctoral fellows.

K Awards

Yes, NIDDK uses the K01 to support the transition of Ph.D. investigators from postdoc to junior faculty.

  • If you are an M.D. and are doing basic research, apply for a K08.

  • If you are an M.D. doing clinical research where you interact directly with patients for your research (not just to fulfill your commitment to your department), apply for a K23.

  • If you are a Ph.D. or a nonboard-eligible M.D., apply for a K01.

  • If you are a nonbiomedically trained Ph.D. (e.g., mathematics, organic chemistry, etc.) moving into biomedical research, apply for a K25.

The NIDDK does not support the K02 award for more senior scientists. Our overview of all K awards offered by the NIDDK outlines the conditions of each award.

A K-award mentor advises a candidate on scientific and career issues and is an advocate at the institutional level. Since a K award often does not pay the full cost of salary and research support, the mentor, along with the department/institution, is expected to ensure that the awardee has the protected time and resources needed to complete the research project as well as career development plans outlined in the funded application. The project for the awardee should be one that will allow the candidate to distinguish his or her career from the mentor’s (e.g., it cannot be one of the aims from the mentor’s R01 grant). The awardee should be free to take the project should he or she leave the institution.

Yes. Our K awards overview outlines this information in an easy-to-read format.

Yes, it is possible to transfer an active K award. The current institution must relinquish the award and the new institution must apply for the award as a change-of-institution application. Full details on the process can be found here.

No. The NIDDK does not support K awards outside the United States.

Yes. “new investigator” refers to your R01 status. The NIH does not consider K awards independent grants, since you have a mentor. Therefore, you are still a “new investigator” when you apply for your first R01.


Yes. Whether or not you can draw salary from both the K and R depends on how many years are left on your K award. If you are in the final 2 years of your K, you not only may keep both awards, but you can draw a salary from both if it makes sense to do so. If your salary is more than $100,000, and the amount we award on the K does not equal a true 75 percent of your salary, we can reduce your effort on the K without reducing the amount of the award. This way, you can make up the difference with an appropriate percent effort of salary on the R. The total of your effort on the K and the R must not fall below 75 percent, with the K effort remaining at a minimum of 50 percent. This policy can be found in NIH GPS.

Yes, but the NIDDK will only award an individual K award for the number of years that will give you a total of 6 years of support on the K12 and the individual K.

No. The PI of any K award cannot change.

Loans Payback and Payment

Yes, as long as at the time the loan repayment contract would be issued, you have 2 remaining years of research time. In other words, if you are appointed to a training grant in July and apply for loan repayment in December, you should have 2 years of research training remaining as of July of the following year. For new applications, loan repayment contracts are for 2 years, not 1.

Payback means you should stay on a postdoctoral training grant or individual postdoctoral fellowship, or any combination of the two, for 2 full years.

Predoctoral support, limited to 5 years, does not incur a payback obligation. This includes both individual predoctoral fellowships and training grant (T32) support, or any combination of the two.

Every postdoctoral NRSA fellow (T32, F32, or any combination) incurs an obligation to ‘pay back’ the first 12 months of NRSA support. Months 13 and beyond are the usual ‘pay back’. This policy is in place because studies have shown that postdocs who engage in 2 or more years of research once they obtain their degree are more likely to pursue a research career.

At the time that you are appointed to a training grant, or activate your individual fellowship award, you will be required to sign a payback agreement. Should you not complete 24 months of NRSA support, you will have to verify that you are engaged in bona fide research or other specified activities, for a minimum of 20 hours a week for a period that completes your service obligation. Should you be unwilling to complete your payback service obligation, the government will expect to receive monetary compensation, with interest, for the NRSA support you have received.

NIDDK does not supply 'scholarships', but we support the training of predoctoral students on institutional training grants and via individual fellowships (F31PA-11-112).

Not usually. The NIDDK supports predoctoral training, not graduate work leading to a master’s degree. The exception would be for a physician or Ph.D. supported by a grant (such as an F32 or K award) that would allow tuition payment for a master’s degree or, for diversity students, a T32 diversity supplement.

NIH sets stipend levels, beginning at the 0 level of experience, i.e. in the year following completion of a doctoral degree. A trainee must complete a full year of postdoctoral training to receive the next higher stipend level. For example, if a trainee has received 18 months of training, he or she would receive the level-one stipend and remain at that level the entire year. Upon reappointment, the individual would receive the level-two stipend.

Last Reviewed November 2023