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Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP)

Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP)

Welcome to the Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP)! The National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched the EIAP with the support of the NCI Equity Council in 2021. EIAP is a trans-NCI program that aims to assist cancer researchers and clinician scientists to attain an R01 or R-type equivalent funding.

A pool of skilled cancer researchers and clinician-scientists is necessary for the cancer research field to flourish. The shift from junior investigator to established investigator status is crucial in this process. The EIAP strives to bolster expertise and offer guidance for the creation of a competitive R01 grant application. The program also provides access to mentoring and peer networks and fosters a community of up-and-coming established investigators from diverse backgrounds.

NCI is particularly interested in encouraging applications from individuals who have a strong interest in cancer or cancer health disparities research, who can commit to the program requirements, those who have previously applied, and individuals from diverse backgrounds including those from groups underrepresented in the cancer research workforce. For example, those from groups noted in the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031).

EIAP Overview

The EIAP is designed to assist eligible and qualified Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) and New Investigators (NIs) from institutions across the country in their professional and career development. Its goal is to facilitate the transition of junior investigators to established investigators while advancing NCI's dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The EIAP offers support in developing professional skills, constructing an R01 grant application, and connecting with mentors and peers to foster a diverse community of emerging established investigators.

Each year, the EIAP team selects 20 to 25 Scholars (depending on funding availability) and 50 Associates through a rigorous and competitive application and review process. Being designated as an EIAP Scholar or EIAP Associate is a great career development opportunity.

Cancer researchers and clinician-scientists who are keen on improving their grantsmanship abilities, building their peer network, having a dedicated mentor, and obtaining access to career development resources are invited to apply for the EIAP program. We welcome both new and resubmitted EIAP applications.

Is EIAP Right for Me?

Review the following statements to see whether EIAP is for you (see full eligibility criteria below):

  • I am a citizen or non-citizen national, or Permanent Resident of the United States.
  • I have never been a PI or MPI on an NIH R01 or equivalent grant before.
  • I am currently conducting cancer or cancer health disparity-related research.
  • I hold a junior investigator position at my institution and qualify as an ESI or NI.
  • My institution supports me in submitting an R01 application by October/November 2024.
  • I am prepared to work toward and submit an R01 application by October/November 2024.
  • The R01 that I am including in my EIAP application is not currently under review.
  • I am able to participate in all program activities.
Date (All times Eastern Time) Activity
February 6, 2024 Scholar Orientation
February 13, 2024, 1:00-4:30 pm Grant Writers' Seminar Day 1
February 14, 2024, 1:00-4:30 pm Grant Writers' Seminar Day 2
End of February-Early March 2024 Scholar 1 on 1 (more information to come)
March 20, 2024, 11:00 am Pre-Proposal Due (more information and guidance will be provided once the program starts)
April 4, 2024 EIAP Peer Networking Event
May 2, 2024 (Morning, TBD) Group Workshop Session
May 2 or 3, 2024 (Afternoon, TBD) One scheduled one-on-one session with a grant expert to discuss your pre-proposal
TBD Mentored Mock Review Orientation
May-June 2024 Scholar 1 on 1 (more information to come)
TBD Mentored Mock Review
July 24, 2024 Final Grant Proposal for Grantsmanship Review
August-September 2024 Scholar 1 on 1 (more information to come)
October/November 2024 Submit Grant Application

NCI values diversity and particularly encourages applicants from populations underrepresented in the cancer research workforce, as noted in the NIH’s Notice of Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031).

EIAP Selection Criteria

Individuals considered for the Scholar position are chosen based on their junior investigator status and the quality of their application materials. Applications are scored on a 1-9 scale (EIAP reviewers use the standard NIH Scoring Guidelines for Trainees) and the scores are compiled across reviewers. Those scoring in the highest tier are invited to be Scholars, and those scoring in the next highest tier are invited to be Associates (if they have not previously been an Associate). Those not scoring in the two highest tiers are welcome to apply again for the next cohort. The scoring criteria are:

  • Research Experience and Accomplishments
  • Training and Professional Accomplishments
  • Institution Support
  • Draft R01 Proposal
  • Letters of Reference

Program Components

Scholars are expected to participate in the following virtual program components:

  • A Grant Writing Workshop (2 half days with a free copy of Grantsmanship Workbook included)
  • Individual consultations with a nationally renowned NIH grants expert
  • Mentored Mock Review (MMR) session
  • Engagement with a volunteer mentor
  • Individualized consultation with EIAP team members
  • Engagement with a grant writing expert to review and help refine the Scholar’s R01 in preparation for submission in October/November
  • Career development workshops and webinars
  • Continued engagement with EIAP team members beyond the Scholar’s program period to provide support in the Scholar’s path to success

Associates are expected to participate in the following virtual program components:

  • A Grant Writing Workshop (2 half days with free copy of Grantsmanship Workbook included)
  • Mentored Mock Review (MMR) session
  • Career development workshops and webinars

The application period opens on October 2, 2023 and closes on November 1, 2023. Applicants should expect to be informed of their status based on the timeline below. The target start date is February 13, 2024. 

Early Investigator Advancement Program 2023-2024 Timeline

Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP) Timeline
CRCHD Scholars at the 2019 Professional Development Workshop & Mock Review

The EIAP Experience

Build your grant preparation skills and prepare an R01 grant application! As an EIAP Scholar, you will be guided through the grant-writing process from drafting your Specific Aims section through submission. You will also gain important insights into the process of NIH review committees. To start the program, you will take part in a two, half-day grant writing virtual seminar. Then, you will participate in a hands-on workshop which includes individual meetings to review and revise your Specific Aims section of your application prior to submission. Your full R01 application draft will be reviewed by a grantsmanship expert, and you will receive detailed, written feedback. Finally, you will participate in a mock review to gain insight into how R01 applications are reviewed by an NIH review committee. Valuable examples of NIH-funded R01 applications, summary statements, sharing plans, leadership plans, and more can be accessed on the NIH Grants & Funding site.

Connect with mentors and grow your professional network! As an EIAP Scholar, you will have the opportunity to connect with multiple mentors, including established investigators, scientists in different sectors, as well as near-peer and peer mentors. Activities will be held for each EIAP cohort to encourage peer mentoring and community building.

Learn and grow through a professional and career development webinar series! EIAP scholars will have access to a series of focused webinars important to aspiring researchers. These webinars may include, for example, research priorities at NCI, components and key elements of a grant proposal, how to be a proactive mentee, establishing and growing a research group, post-award grant managemen, and other relevant topics.

Apply to EIAP

Application Requirements

To apply to the NCI Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP), the following documents should be prepared. Fully completed applications are due by 11:59 pm (in your time zone) on November 1, 2023. Additional details about how to submit your application will be provided on this webpage when the application period opens on October 2, 2023.

  • Cover Letter: Submit a signed cover letter (no longer than 2 pages, single spaced) that includes:
    • Name
    • Email Address
    • Current institution
    • Statement that you are a citizen, non-citizen national, or legal permanent resident of the United States. Do not send documentation with your application.
    • Statement indicating you have not previously received NIH R01 or equivalent funding as a Principal Investigator.
    • Statement indicating preparedness to submit an R01 (which includes a draft R01) by October/November 2024 (see the "Draft R01" bullet below for full details). 
    • Statement indicating whether you are an Early Stage Investigator or New Investigator.
    • Your immediate and long-term career goals.
    • Indication if you belong to one or more of the groups that are underrepresented in the cancer research workforce, such as individuals from racial and ethnic groups including Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders; individuals with disabilities; and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Note: EIAP strongly encourages applications from underrepresented scientists in alignment with the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity. This information will not be used to determine your eligibility for an EIAP award.
    • Statement of contributions to enhancing diversity in the cancer research workforce.
    • Cancer research type (i.e., basic, translational, behavioral/population, or clinical) and site (e.g., lung, brain, skin) if appropriate.
    • If applicable, indicate if your research directly aims to impact cancer health disparities.
    • Please let us know how you heard about EIAP.
    • Please let us know what you are looking for in a mentor (e.g., qualities, areas of research, etc.)
    • Additional information you feel is relevant.
  • Draft R01: Your draft R01 (as a separate PDF file) should include:
    • Project Summary/Abstract (1 page)
    • Specific Aims (1 page)
    • Research Strategy (no more than 12 pages including significance, innovation, approach, which includes research design, justification, expected outcomes and/or impact)
    • Statement indicating plan to submit IRB approval if applicable.
    • Bibliography
    • R01 must comply with NIH standards where otherwise not specified
  • Institution Letter: Provide a letter from appropriate institution leadership in support of your intentions to submit an R01 application by October/November 2024. This letter should include reference to support, equipment, and other physical resources available that will be adequate to support an R01 application. Additionally, the letter should provide a statement with regard to current mentoring support.
  • NIH Biosketch: Please refer to the NIH for guidance and an appropriate template.
  • References: Provde two letters of reference from individuals who can comment on your potential as an R01 investigator. Letters should be on institutional letterhead and signed.

EIAP Eligibility

To be eligible for the EIAP:

  • Applicants must be citizens, non-citizen nationals or Permanent Residents of the United States.
  • Applicants must be Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators who are currently actively conducting cancer research or cancer-related research.
  • Applicants have not previously competed successfully for NIH R01 or R01 equivalent funding.
  • An applicant must be holding a current position at an institution that is eligible for an R01 application and is supportive of the applicant’s plans to submit an R01 application by October/November 2024.

NCI is particularly interested in encouraging applications from individuals who are from groups identified in NIH’s Notice of Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031) as underrepresented in the cancer research workforce, such as:

  1. Individuals from racial and ethnic groups who have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data at and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in the cancer research workforce: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in NIH programs to enhance diversity. For more information on racial and ethnic categories and definitions, see the OMB Revisions to the Standards for Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (
  2. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. See NSF data at
  3. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:
    1. Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Definition:
    2. Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families (Definition:
    3. Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years (Definition:
    4. Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (see
    5. Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants (Definition:
    6. Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child (Definition:
    7. Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer (, or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas (qualifying zip codes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 need be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.

      Students from low socioeconomic (SES) status backgrounds have been shown to obtain bachelor’s and advanced degrees at significantly lower rates than students from middle and high SES groups (see, and are subsequently less likely to be represented in the cancer research workforce. For background see Department of Education data at;;
  4. Literature shows that women from the above backgrounds (categories A, B, and C) face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields. (See, e.g., From the NIH: A Systems Approach to Increasing the Diversity of Biomedical Research Workforce

    Women have been shown to be underrepresented in doctorate-granting research institutions at senior faculty levels in most cancer research-relevant disciplines, and may also be underrepresented at other faculty levels in some scientific disciplines (See data from the National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, special report available at, especially Table 9-23, describing science, engineering, and health doctorate holders employed in universities and 4-year colleges by broad occupation, sex, years since doctorate, and faculty rank).

    Upon review of NSF data, and scientific discipline or field related data, NIH encourages institutions to consider women for faculty-level, diversity-targeted programs to address faculty recruitment, appointment, retention, or advancement.

Other Considerations

NCI encourages applications from scientists who participated in the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities' (CRCHD) Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE), CRCHD's Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE), NIH's National Research Mentoring Network, the NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative, and/or the NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program.


You are encouraged to pose your questions to EIAP program staff. Please contact JoBeth McCarthy and Dr. Maria Jamela (Jay) Revilleza at

  • Updated:

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