Early Career Grant Programs

The Early Career Grant Programs (formerly known as the K Club and Path to Independence Programs) are designed to help junior faculty prepare NIH Career Development Awards (K Series) and prepare their first NIH R01s.  The program is offered three times per year to coincide with the NIH  application submission deadlines, and consists of structured reviews and feedback on grant applications by experienced faculty.



How to Apply

Interested junior faculty members must apply to participate.  Selection for participation will be determined based on grant writing readiness, and preference will be made for faculty members in the School of Medicine.  Applicants must provide a completed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both the applicant and his or her Mentor.  Additionally, applicants must provide a brief summary of their proposal and a draft of their Specific Aims Page.  Late applications will not be considered.  

Applications are reviewed and you will be notified of acceptance.

Program Timeline

Below is a general outline of the program schedule.  At the close of each registration period, participants will be contacted about scheduling the exact dates for their specific workshops. The program is time intensive; applicants should preemptively lighten their schedule to allow ample time for writing a successful grant application.  


If your NIH grant is due on...




Registration Period September January May
Specific Aims Workshops October February June
Significance-Innovation Session November March July
Career Development Session December April August


If you are preparing a grant that falls under the HIV-grant deadline cycle, please contact the Office for Research Mentoring before applying for the program, so we can discuss the best possible resource for your application.  The current program best serves those applying under the traditional deadline schedule.

Specific Aims Workshop

In these workshops, small groups of applicants will meet to review the specific aims of their application, with the objective of making them as concise and clear as possible. The Specific Aims page should be an executive summary of the whole grant. It needs to be written extremely well, because it is the one part of the grant that the majority of the study section will read. It is also used internally by NIH grant officials for making decisions about the grants to support among those whose scores fall within the fundable range. 

Program participants should bring an electronic copy of an updated specific aims page to this workshop.

Significance/Innovation Session

Dr. Joanna Downer will provide a informative lecture on strategies for writing the significance and innovation section.  Several times for drop in service will be provided and a combination of senior facilitators, and research development office staff will be available to review and assist with revision of this section.

Program participants should bring an electronic copy of an updated significance & innovation page to the writing islands.

Career Development Plan Workshops

Fifty percent of the impact score of a K award application is based on the career development plan. Therefore, it is essential that each investigator personalizes their career plans to match their research goals. Several drop in sessions for 1:1 review and feedback about career development plans will be scheduled. Mentors will be senior faculty members who have either reviewed K awards or mentored several successful K applicants.


Questions about the K Club?  Contact our office at resmen@dm.duke.edu.