Principal Investigators Association

NIH Career Development K Awards Manual


NIH Career Development
K Award Mentor Manual

Overview -
Career Development Awards (CDAs), also known as the K awards, are designed to support the career development of advanced or senior postdoctoral fellows and faculty-level candidates. Most of these awards support individuals after they have completed their training and are in the process of transitioning to a faculty position.
These awards are divided into two classes of awards; mentored, where a senior faculty member enters into a formal agreement to provide advice and guidance to the applicant, and non-mentored, where no such formal agreement is required. The NIH’s intent for CDA programs are to support candidates to conduct their research independently and are competitive for major grant support; such as an R01.
There are currently 15 different activity codes within the CDA program that a scientist with a research or health professional doctorate may consider.  Within those programs there are three main types of awards, which are covered within this manual: mentored, non-mentored and pathway to independence.
Within this 244-page manual we will examine examples from funded applications with direct, how-to advice that will guide you through the CDA application process from start to finish.
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  • John W. Ludlow, Ph.D, began his academic faculty career at the University of Rochester (NY) in 1991, with appointments in the department of biochemistry at the medical school and the university’s cancer research center. During this time he maintained an independently funded research laboratory training graduate students and post doctoral fellows in the area of tumor suppressor gene expression, protein structure, and function. Funding for his laboratory came from a variety of sources, including the NIH, the American Cancer Society, and private foundations. Dr. Ludlow began working in the commercial biotechnology sector in 2000, developing and managing research and pre-clinical programs for cell therapy and tissue engineered products, where he has continued to compete in, and advise on, multiple NIH award programs.


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