The K99 funding mechanism through NIH includes 2 years of mentored research (postdoc phase) followed by the R00 (independent PI phase) for 3 years. Based on the verbage of the grant, it appears geared towards existing postdocs (not just graduated PhD students).

I am currently a postdoc with a mentor who is a basic scientist (mentor is high-caliber and great, no issues there). However, my career goals have always been to enter the clinical space and perform clinical research, a near impossible task at my current institution. A neighboring prestigious university has a very strong clinical research focus with numerous PIs and post doc opportunities. My question is this, how unusual is it for a K99 applicant to propose to do their postdoc with a different mentor rather than their current mentor? It seems that most continue with their current mentor, but have a more independent role per the verbage of the grant (e.g. the data they generate is no longer owned by the mentor). I wonder if others with k99 experience (awardee/mentor) can speak to this?

Thank you, Rami

  • Different institutes within NIH have different norms and expectations. Thus suggest to reach out to program officer of target institute for a 15 min phone call (call is better as they may not be able to put everything into writing). Anecdotally, bringing in an additional mentor is no problem for some institutes in NIH, but there may be different options for you.
    – tsttst
    Aug 21 at 1:54
  • Surely every institute is a bit different, but having co-mentors is pretty standard. You could have your current mentor and have a new clinical research mentor. It’s not like the NIH is paying them, so it’s all about the support you will receive. My K08 co-mentor is not even in the same time zone, so I don’t think a different institution would be that big of a barrier. Remember, however, that the institution is the one entering the contract with the NIH, so trying to take the K99 portion with you is a lot of paperwork and requires your institution’s and the NIH’s approval.
    – Ian
    Aug 21 at 2:56
  • Thanks for the insights, the problem arises in that after speaking with an MD clinical scientist there, the liability insurance does not cover individuals at my current institution, only theirs. So my primary institution will likely need to be this new one, not my current.
    – Rami N.
    Aug 21 at 12:05


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