Overview--Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Status

An Early Stage Investigator (ESI) is a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who meets the following qualifications:

  • Completed terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years, and
  • Has not previously successfully competed as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award.

ESI applications with meritorious scores will be prioritized for funding by the institute or center receiving the application.

Some ESIs will experience a lapse in their research or research training or periods of less than full-time effort during the 10-year ESI period. To accommodate such lapses, NIH will consider requests to extend the ESI period, on a case by case basis at the sole discretion of NIH.

Investigators should consult the FAQs, Section IV, Extension of Early State Investigator Status prior to submitting a request.

Extensions may be granted for the following reasons as described in NOT-OD-09-034:

  • Childbirth
  • Family Care Responsibilities
  • Clinical Loan Repayment Requirements
  • Disability or Illness
  • Active Duty Military Service
  • Natural or Other Disaster
  • Public Health Emergency
  • Other

Investigators can submit a request via an ESI Extension Request button in the Education section of the Personal Profile in eRA Commons. The PI must provide a justification for requesting the extension. NOTE: ESI buttons and information do NOT appear until and unless you click the Edit link for the Education pane.

NOTE:  Only the PD/PI can request the ESI extension. Although filling out the Personal Profile can be delegated by the PI, the request for ESI extension cannot be delegated.

The information described in the request for ESI extension will be considered confidential and will be maintained under the Privacy Act record system SORN, 09-25-0036, “Extramural Awards”. The individual submitting a request for ESI extension is responsible for providing true, accurate, and complete information.

See also:

Determining Your ESI Status

How to Access the Link for Requesting an ESI Extension

Complete and Submit the ESI Extension Request Form