The NIH Career Development Award Program (K award) provides salary and research support for a sustained period of "protected time" (3-5 years) to ensure a future class of well-trained scientists will become competitive for continue NIH (or equivalent) extramural research support.
NIH data show that individuals who received a K award were more likely to remain in research, publish in scientific or medical journals, and apply for and receive receive a subsequent NIH R01 grant. Success rates for K awards across institutes are much more favorable than for R01s and R21s at present.
Important elements of K awards that set the stage for a future competitive R01 application include: ability to accrue research experience through the collection of preliminary data, collaboration with a mentoring team, operational experience, and generating publications and presentations. A K award allows awardees to demonstrate new expertise and connect with new collaborators all of which are key elements of a strong R01 application.
Explore the NIH's K Kiosk site, which explains the types of K awards, lists eligibility criteria, and gives contacts at each institute who can answer your specific questions. Two podcasts about K awards are available, as well as details about funding rates and other strategic information.
BRSA can provide assistance with K applications. Example of assistance available includes interpretation of guidelines or contact with program officials by the Office of Sponsored Programs and other guidance by Karen Klein.