Listen to the Big Dog

Thanks, Bill Clinton, for reminding me of arithmetic. I was planning to submit a K99 this October while also doing a full job search. I was thinking either the K99 comes through and I do a mentored phase of about 6 weeks (though I think some institutes have a minimum, it’s not in the PA), or it comes through and I don’t get a job, but I’m better positioned for next year.

But, feeling overwhelmed with doing the emotional arithmetic of doing an NIH application while applying for jobs, finishing 2 papers, and dealing with a raft of other ongoing bullshit, I realized that there is no reason to do it this cycle. If I get a job this year, it won’t be because I submitted a K99. And if the search does not seem to be going well or it at least slows down, I can apply for one of the next two cycles, and if it works out it will help me next year. And I’ll have at least one more paper and better preliminary data. 

Then there is this: if I don’t get anything this year, right now I’m pretty sure I am not capable of doing a 6th year of postdoctoring or a 2nd year on the job market. I’m done.

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8 Comments on “Listen to the Big Dog”

  1. gerty-z says:

    If you are applying for jobs you may be too far along for the K99 thing to be a real option. It used to be easier to do something like a 6-wk “mentored” phase, but now the NIH (all of the institutes, as far as I can tell) demand that you do at least a full year of mentored phase work. Otherwise it is not really a career development/training award. If you only need 6 wk of mentoring, why do you need more training? There are ways to try to play the system but this seems to be getting harder from when I got my award. If you really do want to apply for a K99 you also have to be careful that you aren’t too far into your pd to be eligible. IIRC, you only get 5 yr past your PhD or else you have to get special permission to apply. At least that is how it used to be. It might be worth it to focus on your job search and getting papers out. Good luck!

  2. rxnm says:

    Thanks for the advice. I just hit the 4yr mark in my postdoc. I had seen some mentions of the 1-year minimum on a couple of institute sites but couldn’t finding anything in the PA. I think I am at a good place scientifically for this — 1 big project done, and starting new screens/assays that 1) would be much easier to do in my current lab than in a new one and would benefit from some of my PI’s expertise 2) should produce a lot of future possible directions. That said, I’m really not feeling that postdoc year 6 after a failed job search is going to be on the menu next summer.

  3. jbashir says:

    If you are just starting your 5th year I think you are ok for being eligible. I think it’s no more than 5 years postdoc experience by the application date.

    I’m pretty much in same situation. Starting year 4 of postdoc. K99 app under review. 2nd year of job search. Fun times.

  4. rxnm says:

    Damn it! The competition is reading this? I better stop posting job listings….

  5. biochembelle says:

    Fairly far along, the PA defines “proposed period of support (1-2 years as a mentored candidate followed by up to 3 years as an independent scientist)”.

    As mentioned by Gerty & Bashir, eligibility is defined as 5 yrs from date of completion of PhD on date of submission. That goes for initial submission and resubmission. But IIRC, Doc Becca mentioned someone who contacted PO and received permission to resubmit, even though he’d passed the 5 yr mark b/t A0 and A1.

    Despite occasional gun-jumping enthusiasm/optimism, my PI preaches that the most costly submission is the ‘early’ one, e.g. time crunch for prep, before manuscripts out… Publications are the currency of academia, both for grants & job apps, so I think it probably is better to get them knocked out before adding to the pile. (I’m in similar situation, minus the job apps this year.)

    Have you looked at other K mechs in your field? Depending on institute, K01 (or eq) can provide a hefty boost to salary, also good for job apps since typically funds go w you, and is not subject to 5-yr limit. (Based on my explorations, ICs backing K99 and those backing other non-clinical Ks do not overlap.)

  6. rxnm says:

    Hmmm… what date do they use for determining the 5 years? There was about 10 months between my PhD award date and starting my postdoc, which becomes critical if I will apply after this cycle.

    The way it is worded, the 5 years should start on the day you start your postdoc: “have more than five years of related postdoctoral research training at time of initial application or resubmission.” One could also nitpick, if you changed fields, about “related” training. I guess this would be best to discuss with PO?

    I had also been told that the “1-2” years was kind of a suggestion. I’ve only found 1 institute that specifies a hard minimum.

    Looking at other Ks, but not finding a fit yet… thanks for the comments.

  7. Dave says:

    You would need some kind of faculty position to be eligible for a K01 app. The K99 is the only K open to you as far as I know. I thought they used the date of PhD completion as the “clock starter”.

  8. jbashir says:

    You don’t need to be TT faculty to have a K01. It’s possible you need some sort of letter of support from your university stating you are “independent” or something like that. I know postdocs with K01s. Very senior postdocs with a ton of support, but postdocs.

    I’m totally not your competition. I think our job app overlap might be one or two jobs.


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