Requesting an Extension of the Early Stage Investigator Period

Early stage investigators (ESI) who have experienced a lapse in their research or research training during the 10-year ESI period can request an extension of their ESI eligibility. Generally, the period of extension is equivalent to the time away.

The policy notice NOT-OD-09-034 describes policies and procedures for investigators who wish to request an extension of the NIH-defined Early Stage Investigator (ESI) classification period.  These policies were developed to encourage early transition to independence.  

General Principles for Extending the Period of ESI Status

In general, ESI status will be applied to New Investigators who have had less than 10 years of research or research training experience after the completion of their terminal research degree or medical residency.  Some new investigators will experience a lapse in their research or research training or they will experience periods of less than full-time effort during the 10 year ESI period.  In order to accommodate such lapses, the NIH will consider requests to extend the ESI period for reasons that can include medical concerns, disability, family care responsibilities, extended periods of clinical training, natural disasters, and active duty military service.    In general, the NIH will extend the period of ESI status for a period equivalent to the time away from research or research training.  Extensions related to periods of part-time status normally will be prorated to reflect the actual time away from research and normally will be considered only when the appointment is reduced by 50% or more for a sustained period of time.    

Factors considered a basis for an Extended Period of ESI eligibility

  • Family Care Responsibilities
  • Extended Periods of Clinical Training
  • Extended Periods of Additional (non-degree) Research Training
  • Disability or Illness
  • Active Duty Military Service
  • Clinical Loan Repayment Requirements
  • Natural or Other Disaster

Process for Requesting an Extension

New Investigators who wish to request an extension of ESI eligibility will be able to find a web-form on January 17, 2009.  A link to the WebForm will be provided on the New and Early Stage Investigator Webpage at  Once a request for extension has been completed and transmitted to the NIH, it will be considered by the NIH ESI Extensions Committee composed of senior-level NIH staff.  It is possible that this committee will request additional material to document the hiatus in research effort.  Once all material is received, the request generally will be processed within two weeks.  After a determination is made by the NIH ESI Extensions Committee, the requestor will be notified of the decision by email.  If the ESI status period is extended, the revised end date of the ESI period will be displayed in the requestor’s eRA Commons profile.

Visit the NIH Early Stage Investigator Policies: Requesting an Extension of the ESI Period Notice for full information.