Advancing Research Careers FAQs

ARC Program Description

The ARC Program is part of NIH's efforts to promote diversity within the biomedical research workforce and is designed as a structured program to enhance participation of trainees from diverse backgrounds, for example individuals from underrepresented groups (see Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity), as they transition from predoctoral research training to postdoctoral research and career development.

ARC has two components: an institutionally-focused research education cooperative agreement (UE5) and an individual predoctoral to postdoctoral career transition award (F99/K00) to enhance diversity. NIH encourages institutions to recruit prospective candidates from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical sciences for the F99/K00 NOFO (for examples, see Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity).

ARC F99/K00 Eligibility Information

By the time of award, you must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status).

You must have a baccalaureate degree and be currently enrolled as a student in a mentored, biomedical Ph.D. or equivalent research degree program (e.g., Dr.P.H., Sc.D.) at an U.S. institution, and should propose research relevant to the mission area of one or more participating NIH Institutes, Centers or Offices (see list in the Notice of Funding Opportunity).

By the time of award, you must have at least one, but no more than two, years remaining to complete your Ph.D. dissertation research training (F99 phase) before transitioning to mentored postdoctoral research training (K00 phase).

Note: For the purpose of the F99/K00 NOFO, NIH encourages institutions to recruit prospective candidates from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. The NIH's Notice of Interest in Diversity provides examples of groups that we know are numerically underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce, and is not eligibility criteria for the program. Consistent with existing NIH practice and applicable law, the race, ethnicity, or sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, or transgender status) of F99 candidates is not used to establish program eligibility, as part of the review criteria, or as a factor in making funding decisions.

No. DACA recipients are not eligible, as DACA does not confer lawful permanent resident status or a path to citizenship.

No. The ARC F99/K00 award may not be used to support studies leading to the M.D., D.D.S., or other clinical, health-professional degree (e.g., D.C., D.M.D., D.N.P., D.O., D.P.M., D.V.M., N.D., O.D., Au.D.). or dual-degree clinician scientist training programs (e.g., M.D./Ph.D., D.O./Ph.D., D.D.S./Ph.D., or D.V.M./Ph.D.). Predoctoral students who are matriculated in a combined MD/PhD or other dual-doctoral degree training program and who intend careers as physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists can apply to the Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Predoctoral NRSA for MD/ PhD and other Dual Degree Fellowships (F30).

The purpose of the ARC F99/K00 program is to support promising, late-stage graduate students from diverse backgrounds, for example those from underrepresented groups (see Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity), to transition into and succeed in mentored postdoctoral research positions.

Strong candidates will career goals that typically require postdoctoral training (such as, academic research and teaching at a range of institution types, industry or government research).

The application also asks candidates to include a statement, included as part of the application review, describing:

  • Any past or present leadership, mentoring and outreach activities to enhance participation of groups underrepresented in the biomedical research enterprise.
  • Planned activities during the award to develop or enhance skills in working effectively with scientists from diverse backgrounds and to promote inclusive and equitable scientific biomedical research environments.

Additionally, your institution (usually dean, department chair, or director of your graduate program) will have to provide a letter describing how your participation in ARC will further the goals of the fellowship program to promote diversity in health-related research. See the "Description of Candidate's Contribution to Program Goals" in Section IV of the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Candidates are encouraged to consider this information as they consider whether to apply to the ARC program, or other NIH fellowship opportunities.

By the time the ARC award is made, you must be at the dissertation research stage of training (that is passed your qualifying exam) and expect to require 1-2 years to complete your Ph.D. dissertation research training. The transition from the predoctoral phase to the postdoctoral phase is intended to be continuous in time and, except in unusual circumstances, the NIH will not extend nor provide more than two years of funding for the F99 phase.

Please note that an award will not be made until ~10 months after you submit your application (see the Key Dates section of the Notice of Funding Opportunity). Additionally, you may not be successful in your first application. The strongest candidates will propose a well-conceived plan for 1-2 years of substantive research training that will help them become competitive candidates for postdoctoral research positions. Merely repeating experiments and writing your dissertation will not provide a compelling research training plan.

ARC F99/K00 - Application/Award Information

Each candidate may submit one fellowship application to NIH at a time: An individual may not have two or more competing NIH individual fellowship applications pending review concurrently. A candidate for an ARC F99/K00 award may not simultaneously submit or have an application pending for any other PHS fellowship award (e.g., F31 or any other PHS award that duplicates any of the provisions of the F99/K00 award). Once your application has been reviewed, you must wait for the summary statement to be issued before you submit any other fellowship application or any application with substantial scientific overlap.

For example, if you submitted a F31 application for the April due date, you would not be able to submit an ARC application for the June due date; you would be able to submit an ARC application for the October due date.

Yes, but you will have to terminate the F31 before the ARC F99/K00 can be awarded.

No. ARC F99 scholars will be assigned to ARC UE5 sites by the NIH.

No, NRSA time limits are not applicable to ARC. However, candidates are expected to transition to postdoctoral research training within two years of being awarded an ARC F99.

Please consult the list of specific NIH Institute and Center research training areas (found under “Program Considerations”) in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. We strongly suggest that you email the relevant Scientific/Research Contact(s) (found in Section VII of the Notice of Funding Opportunity) with a specific aims page and biosketch to assess appropriateness of the proposal.

If your research falls within the mission of an NIH Institute that is not participating in ARC, go to the NIH F99/K00 Fellowship Page and click on "View Current Funding Opportunities" to see the full list of F99/K00 funding announcements.

Information on the ARC UE5 programs will be posted on the ARC program website once they are established. We expect this information to be available by the third receipt date (February 2025). For applications prior to this receipt date, consult the ARC UE5 Notice of Funding Opportunity and describe a plan for integrating the skills development and mentoring activities into the Training Goals and Objectives.

No. It is not a requirement to have a first-authored predoctoral publication to apply.

There are many ways to demonstrate productivity before a manuscript is formally published, including preprints which can be included in the biosketch section of applications (see NOT-OD-17-050 on Reporting Preprints and Other Interim Research Products).

The entire application, including the candidate's background and goals, research training plan, and sponsor statement are considered by reviewers.

The primary sponsor can be an independent investigator at any career stage, including an early-stage investigator.

Regardless of career stage, the primary sponsor must demonstrate a commitment to ensuring the candidate receives tailored training that will facilitate their skills development and career advancement. The candidate and sponsor(s) should work together to develop a specific and effective training plan that will promote these objectives. The application should describe how the training environment is well suited for the development of the candidate. Including additional co-sponsors and mentors can contribute to a strong research training plan, regardless of the career stage of the primary sponsor.

There is not an expectation that the dissertation research project contains the candidate's original ideas, although the wording of the research training plan must be the candidate's. Doctoral students typically begin graduate research under close supervision and direction while working on a project that is part of the research program of the sponsor. During the training, the candidate will acquire skills and knowledge and often will propose next steps in the research with increasing self-direction. Occasionally, the research training project will propose aims, collaborators, technical approaches new to the sponsor's research program. In these cases, the fellowship application should describe how the fellow will achieve them given the research training environment and resources.

It is important to demonstrate that the sponsor's research training environment has adequate resources to support the proposed research training plan. These resources can come from a variety of sources, including other federal agencies, societies or foundations, or institutional funds.

NIH will not fund a predoctoral candidate who currently holds another fellowship award that essentially duplicates the support that would be received under the ARC award.

If the candidate successfully competes for and ARC F99 award, they would need to relinquish the other fellowship before starting the ARC award.

A Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan is not needed for the original ARC F99/K00 application, as the NIH DMS policy ​does not apply to fellowships. ARC scholars will submit a DMS plan with their K00 transition application (see Section VI. of the ARC F99/K00 Notice of Funding Opportunity).

Yes, you will complete a budget for both phases when submitting your initial application. Later, when you complete your K00 transition application you will submit an updated budget for the K00 phase.

Any changes will be communicated in the "related notices" section of the NOFO.

No! During the F99 phase, students are expected to complete their doctoral degree, identify postdoctoral research mentor(s) distinct from their predoctoral sponsor(s), and work with these mentors to develop a postdoctoral research project. The UE5 grantees will provide programming that will help with this process.

You should include a plan for identifying potential postdoc mentors and describe the mentor qualifications and attributes you will prioritize in the "Training Goals and Objectives" section of your application. If you have already identified a postdoctoral research mentor, you can describe them in this section.

Unless you are sure of your plans, we recommend that you ask for the full 2 years of funding for the F99 phase and three years of funding for the K00 phase.

ARC F99/K00 - Review Information

Each F99/K00 application will be reviewed within the Institute, Center, or Office (ICO) to which it has been assigned (for list of participating ICOs, see the Notice of Funding Opportunity). At NIGMS, we plan to review applications in a Special Emphasis Panel.

Yes. The Scientific Review Officers of participating ICOs will ensure that reviewers have the relevant expertise to review the application. Please bear in mind that each panel will likely have scientists from a variety disciplines. It is important to write your application so that reviewers outside of your field will understand the significance and approach of your proposed research training plan and your training goals and objectives. The roster will be published at least 30 days prior to the review meeting at pubroster.

Please see the Notice of Funding Opportunity under "Key Dates". Generally, applications undergo scientific merit review ~5 months after the due date, and the earliest start date is ~10 months after the due date.

Each ICO will make funding decisions consistent with their priorities and missions.

NIGMS does not have a "payline" or strict cutoff in scores that it will fund. Staff will carefully consider the study section and advisory council recommendations, including the scores and language in the summary statement.

Additionally, as stated in the Notice of Funding Opportunity, the following will be considered in making funding decisions, consistent with applicable law:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
  • Contributions to portfolio breadth.
  • Appropriate career stage of F99 candidate.

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Although this NOFO does not allow resubmissions, candidates who are not successful on the initial competition, and would still have at least one year of PhD research training at the time of award, are strongly encouraged to apply again with a New application. New applications cannot include an Introduction section or refer directly to scores or comments from the previous review, but can utilize constructive feedback received from the summary statement.

ARC F99/K00 - Post-Award Information

NIH staff (i.e., ARC F99/K00 program officers) assign scholars based on a range of factors including the type of research they are conducting and their career interests, as well as the capacity for the UE5 awardees to serve additional scholars. All UE5 awardees will provide comparable and high-quality professional development activities.

The Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) is due 2 months before the beginning date of the next budget period and must include information describing the current year's progress as well as the research and training plans for the coming year.

Please follow up with the relevant scientific research contact listed in the Notice of Award to discuss any concerns.

NIGMS understands that your plans may change from what is proposed for the K00 phase at the time of your initial application. As long as the research remains within the mission of the NIH, such changes will not generally limit your ability to receive the K00.

ARC F99/K00 - Transition

No. To initiate the K00 phase of the grant, individuals must have:

  • successfully completed their Ph.D.;
  • been offered and accepted a full-time postdoctoral position; and
  • submitted a K00 transition application (see next question).

Note: The transition from the predoctoral phase to the postdoctoral phase is intended to be continuous in time and, except in unusual circumstances, the NIH will not extend the F99 phase beyond the 2-year limit.

Each participating NIH Institute and Center has its own process. Contact the program officer and grants management official for your F99 award to discuss the transition process and timeline. General instructions are found in "Section VI. Award Administration Information" of the ARC F99/K00 Notice of Funding Opportunity (see "Transition to the Postdoctoral Career Development K00 Phase").

General UE5 Questions

The ARC UE5 is different from the MOSAIC UE5 in that they support scholars at different stages of their training. The ARC UE5 awardees provide ARC F99/K00 scholars with professional skills and the appropriate mentoring and networks to allow them to transition into and succeed in postdoctoral research and career development opportunities, positioning them to advance in impactful careers in the biomedical research workforce that typically require postdoctoral training. The MOSAIC UE5 awardees support educational activities that equip MOSAIC K99/R00 scholars with professional skills and provide them with the appropriate mentoring and professional networks to allow them to transition into, advance, and succeed in independent, tenure-track or equivalent research-intensive faculty positions.

Yes! Higher Education Institutions as well as Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education (e.g., scientific societies) are eligible to apply.

Applications are encouraged from organizations that have:

  • Experience serving to enhance scientific communication and networking among early-career biomedical researchers;
  • An established record of providing professional development and networking activities for future biomedical researchers; and
  • A demonstrated commitment to enhancing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.

Yes. Multiple organizations can partner for an ARC UE5 application, with one organization serving as the Primary Performance Site Location. If multiple organizations partner, follow all instructions for Consortium/Contractual Arrangements in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Yes, we plan to review all UE5 applications in an NIGMS SEP.

Yes, that is a possibility. NIGMS will help facilitate the change for the scholar if it is necessary.

Each F99/K00 scholar will have an approved plan to fulfill NIH requirements for Instruction in the RCR through training at their home institution. Each UE5 site is also expected to carry out instruction in RCR that is complementary to training that the scholars are already receiving. The plan should be appropriate and reasonable for the nature and duration of the proposed activities.

The matching process will depend on what UE5 sites are funded and whether they propose a particular area of focus. Many factors including research area, alignment between the scholar's needs and the UE5's focus and geographic location may be considered.

No, career mentors and advisory committee members do not need to be listed as key personnel. If career mentors have been identified, their biosketches may be included as a single attachment. The personal statement should describe a commitment to mentoring as well as promoting diverse, inclusive, safe, and supportive environments. You do not need to include biosketches for advisory committee members. Please note that you should not name advisory committee members unless you have already asked them; this is to limit possible conflicts of interest during the review process.

Follow the research (R) instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits for UE5 applications. Any additions or modifications to these instructions will be described in Section IV of the Notice of Funding Opportunity. For example, the Specific Aims attachment is limited to 1 page; the Research Education Program Plan is limited to 25 pages and should include all of the bulleted topics listed under "Research Strategy" in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.