K99/R00 Eligibility clarification explicitly justifies exceptions for parental/family/etc. leave

This is good to see formalized:


It states:

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

K99 applicants must have no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research experience at the time of the initial or the subsequent resubmission or revision application, and must be in mentored, postdoctoral training positions to be eligible to apply to the K99/R00 program. If an applicant achieves independence (i.e., any faculty or non-mentored research position) before a K99 award is made, neither the K99 award, nor the R00 award, will be issued.

Parental leave or other well-justified leave for pressing personal or family situations of generally less than 12 months duration (e.g., family care responsibilities, disability or illness, active military duty) is not included in the 4-year eligibility limit. In addition, time spent conducting postgraduate clinical training that does not involve research is not considered as part of the 4-year research training eligibility limit. Only time dedicated to research activities would count toward the 4-year limit.

Additional clarifications are provided under Frequently Asked Questions. Potential candidates are encouraged to discuss their individual situation with an NIH Institute or Center Scientific Program Contact before applying.

I hope this will help some postdocs with the conversations they have with their POs on this.

6 thoughts on “K99/R00 Eligibility clarification explicitly justifies exceptions for parental/family/etc. leave

  1. Yes, but this isn't the crux, is it? The problem in eligibility isn't really the 6-8 weeks leave you get for having a child, it's the ~year of diminished productivity that follows. It's quite clear from this notice that you are only given an extension by the duration of leave time, not by a year the way you might for a tenure clock.

    • Oh believe me, I know. But just the fact that they are officially stating this will help make it less PO-dependent than it currently is.

  2. @DJMH: Can one get a year extension of the tenure clock for family care responsibilities that don't involve having children? Because I have never understood how this is fair. Or how we're all supposed to pretend the some people are pulling their weight at work after coming back from maternity leave when they clearly aren't. But I guess admitting that having a child makes you less productive -- even if you argue that it's only for a limited amount of time -- is just totally not allowed.

    So we should make special accommodations for people with kids (and not anyone else) and at the same time pretend that there is no need to accommodate anything, because these folks are just as productive as they were pre-kids. Talk about wanting it both ways....

    • This is a much larger argument than just this policy statement from NIH, but generally your beef seems to be with somebody other than most working moms because I don't know anybody who has had a kid, come back, and tried to pretend or claim they weren't affected. It's also institution-dependent, because yes, you can get a year of tenure clock extension for reasons other than childbirth at many (maybe even most?) universities--you just have to request it, and the main difference is that some institutions have a policy that granting those requests is automatic if it's for having a kid (no matter which parent you are, and for adoption as well as childbirth), while some institutions have it go through the same full review that each tenure clock extension request goes through (which usually involves your department, the college, and the provost). Besides that, however, the eligibility period for the K99 is a different animal: it's during the postdoctoral training period when all, ALL productivity is based on the hands of the person in question (not a whole research team the way it is for tenure), so the number of experiments that can be performed is directly affected. And also, the four year period was relatively recently instated and is already skating on the edge of impossible for many people regardless of their parental status, because of field-related differences in publication rates (chemists can easily publish a paper in a high impact journal every 6-9 months, whereas biologists who depend on developing animal models might take 3-4 years for one paper and have it go through a year or more's worth of additional experimentation for reviewer-requested revisions). Reviewers are supposed to take into account things like potential lost productivity for personal events (that's what the Personal Statement is for, and other family care responsibilities or medical issues are fair game there)--but if you're cut off from even submitting the application because of things that would qualify for FMLA leave, you can't even get to that point.

      I'm not really sure where this statement comes from: "But I guess admitting that having a child makes you less productive -- even if you argue that it's only for a limited amount of time -- is just totally not allowed." Accommodations are generally supposed to be inclusive of anybody who has substantial hardship during these career periods, so if you've had a bad experience, it may have been specific to your environment because my observation is that good environments are very reasonable about FMLA-related (not necessarily just kid-related) stuff like this. I'm sorry if that's the case, but you're blaming the wrong people if you're saying it's the fault of the people who have had the kids.

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