Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group


NIH and its stakeholder community have for many years been concerned about the long-term stability of the biomedical research enterprise. Too many researchers vying for limited resources has led to a hypercompetitive environment in which many highly meritorious applications go unfunded. The current environment is particularly challenging for many early- and mid-career investigators.

Over the last several years, NIH has taken numerous steps to balance, strengthen, and stabilize the biomedical research workforce. However, these measures have only taken us so far. To ensure the long-term stability and strength of the U.S. biomedical research enterprise, the pool of NIH-funded researchers must be balanced such that the greatest number of early-stage (ESI)1 and early-established (EEI)2, 3 investigators are enabled to tackle tough research questions to improve the health of all Americans.

To address this challenging issue, NIH has proposed the Next Generation Researchers Initiative (Next Gen): a bold, focused approach to bolster support to ESIs and EEIs through specific funding and evaluation efforts.


The ACD Working Group on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative (ACD Next Gen WG) will provide advice on the development, implementation, and analysis of the Next Gen policy to increase the number of NIH-funded ESIs and EEIs and stabilize the career trajectory of scientists. Consistent with this charge, the ACD Next Gen WG will:

  • Advise NIH leadership on the development of a trans-NIH Next Gen policy;
  • Review independent assessments to identify evidence-based metrics for research productivity, and determine the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress;
  • Provide advice and recommendations on approaches for developing or enhancing NIH funding mechanisms aimed at ESIs and EEIs;
  • Propose recommendations for tracking and assessing funding decisions for ESIs and EEIs with fundable scores to ensure the Next Gen is effectively implemented in all areas of research;
  • Assure alignment of recommendations for the opportunities and needs of ESIs and EEIs with the work of other ACD and internal NIH WGs regarding the demographics of workforce, age, sex, ethnic/racial diversity, MDs vs. PhDs;
  • Review analyses to assess the impact of the Next Gen policy on the overall NIH scientific portfolio and workforce trends.

In carrying out its charge, the working group will need to engage individuals at every career stage, as well as research institutions and other stakeholders, to ensure that the Next Gen policy is effective in its goal of providing long-term stability and strength to the U.S. biomedical research enterprise.



  • Christine Curran, PhD
    Associate Professor
    Biological Sciences
    Northern Kentucky University
  • Amicia Elliott, PhD
    Postdoctoral PRAT Fellow
    National Institute of Mental Health/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  • Gary Gibbons, MD
    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • Linda Griffith, PhD
    S.E.T.I. Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering
    Director, Center for Gynepathology Research
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Pamela Kreeger, PhD
    Associate Professor
    Vilas Associate
    Biomedical Engineering
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Cell and Regenerative Biology
    University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Michael Lauer, MD
    Deputy Director for Extramural Research
  • Michael Levitt, PhD
    Structural Biology and Computer Science
    Member, Bio-X
    Stanford University
  • Jon Lorsch, PhD
    National Institute for General Medical Sciences
  • Stephani Page, PhD
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Timothy Reddy, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
    Duke University
  • Juan Pablo Ruiz
    NIH Oxford Scholar
    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • Elba E. Serrano, PhD
    Regents Professor
    Department of Biology
    College of Arts and Sciences
    New Mexico State University
  • Christina Stallings, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Molecular Microbiology
    Washington University School of Medicine
  • Bruce Weinberg, PhD
    The Ohio State University


  • Jose Florez, MD, PhD
    Chief, Diabetes Unit
    Investigator, Center for Genomic Medicine
    Massachusetts General Hospital
    Associate Professor
    Harvard Medical School
    Institute Member
    Broad Institute
  • Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD
    Principal Deputy Director


  • Nicole J. Garbarini, PhD
    Immediate Office of the Director


  1. An ESI is a Program Director / Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award.
  2. An EEI is a PD/PI who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01 equivalent research award as an ESI. A meritorious application with a designated PD/PI EEI may be prioritized for funding if: The EEI lost or is at risk for losing all NIH research support if not funded by competing awards this year, OR The EEI is supported by only one active award.
  3. As described in NIH Guide NOT-OD-18-214, NIH will not use the EEI definition. It will continue to prioritize funding for Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) and, pending the deliberations of this working group, will employ the interim strategy of considering support for "at risk investigators" (investigators with meritoriously-scored applications who would not have major NIH research funding if the application under consideration is not awarded and who do not have significant research support from other sources).

This page last reviewed on August 31, 2017