Career Development Awards FAQs (K25)

NIGMS limits the K25 award to individuals with little or no biological research experience or training who hold independent positions in physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science or engineering equivalent to a tenure-track faculty position. Awards at the postdoctoral level may be made for especially talented individuals with doctoral degrees in physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science, or engineering who wish to enter the field of systems biology.

Individuals who are interested in postdoctoral positions and do not fit these criteria are encouraged to apply for a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award individual postdoctoral fellowship.

As noted in the K25 award announcement, a potential applicant whose research topic falls within the mission of NIGMS is urged to contact Dr. Michael Sesma prior to applying to determine whether s/he is eligible for the award.

Among the many anticipated questions are:

The best way is by email to To facilitate the discussion, include a brief description of the project you wish to pursue, the name of the potential mentor, and your resume.

Most likely. Tenure track is an indication of a certain level of independence. The same considerations would also apply to someone from industry.

If you would be able to submit a credible R01 (research project grant) application to NIH, you can assume you know more than a "little biology."

Some areas of chemistry require extensive training in mathematics and physics; other areas do not. We would certainly welcome applicants with extensive training in mathematics and physics and who have a research career that required this training.

The term "systems biology" means different things to different people. One explanation is that systems biology aims for a systems-level understanding of biological systems that takes into account complex interactions of gene, protein and cell elements. Since the term is subject to different interpretations, potential applicants for whom this definition is critical should discuss their situation with the program contact Dr. Sesma.

Many well-established areas of biomedical research, such as biophysics, have had a history of attracting individuals with excellent quantitative training. Because systems biology is growing rapidly, NIGMS feels that there is a special unmet need that justifies the exception.

We would define the term as meaning individuals who would be competitive for individual postdoctoral fellowship awards from agencies that normally support their respective fields.