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Special Leave Guidelines for Recipients of NHLBI Mentored Career Awards (K01, K08, K22, K23, K25)

This document summarizes NIH and NHLBI policies for situations where a recipient of an NHLBI mentored career development award wishes to take leave to train at another institution, take a leave of absence during the award period, or train at a lower level of effort for a longer period of time.

Leave to Another Institution

Leave to another institution, including a foreign laboratory, may be permitted if the proposed experience is directly related to the purpose of the award. Only local, institutional approval is required if such leave does not exceed 3 months. For longer periods, prior written approval of the NHLBI is required. To obtain prior approval, the award recipient must submit a letter to the NHLBI describing the plan, countersigned by his/her mentor, advisory committee (if applicable), and the appropriate institutional official. A copy of a letter or other evidence from the institution where the leave is to be taken must be submitted to assure that satisfactory arrangements have been made. Support from the career award will continue during such leave.

Leave of Absence or Reduction of Effort

The NHLBI recognizes that in certain circumstances (e.g., medical conditions, disability, personal or family situations such as child or elder care), an NHLBI mentored career award recipient may wish to take a period of leave, or request a reduction in professional effort below the minimum 75 percent. Following are options to accommodate special needs.

1. Leave of Absence During Award Period

Grantees are allowed a one-time, up to 12-month extension of a budget period without prior approval of the NHLBI. The extension is without additional funds, and may be made either at the end of the current funding year or at the end of the project period. Such leave may not exceed 12 months in a given budget period. The period of leave would be without grant support, and it would not reduce the total number of months of program support for which the individual is eligible. To receive the leave/extension, an awardee must submit a letter informing the NHLBI of the need for a period of leave, which would include the start date of the leave, and return to active status date (at least 75% effort) on the career award. The letter must be countersigned by the mentor and by an institutional business official. Any subsequent request(s) for a period of leave needs the prior approval of the NHLBI.

2. Reduction in Effort

Under circumstances such as those listed above, the NHLBI will consider requests for reduced levels of effort as long as the original goals of the career award can still be met. The awardee may submit a request in writing including a statement of need for the reduced effort, and a revised plan and timetable by which the original goals will be accomplished. The request should be countersigned by the recipient's mentor and by a business official. During the period of reduced effort, the salary and other costs supported by the award will be reduced accordingly. The time lost through the reduction in effort should be made up by requesting a no-cost extension at the end of the current funding year or end of the project period. During the no-cost extension, any funds remaining in the grant can be used as originally approved (e.g., salary, supplies). Generally, the awardee will not be permitted to work at a rate of less than 50 percent effort. Under no circumstances will approval be given for a reduced effort to accommodate other sources of funding, job opportunities, or clinical practice.

3. Integration of Research Training with Clinical Training

The mentored career award can be integrated with the requirements for clinical subspeciality training, and differing approaches for doing so may be proposed. The career award plan may include an interruption in grant support to allow for continued clinical training. For example, individuals may propose a program encompassing up to a 12-month hiatus to allow for completion of subspeciality training, followed by continuation of the research career development program. A hiatus of up to 24 months would be considered only under unusual circumstances with strong and compelling justification. Award support is not provided during periods of interruption; periods of leave do not reduce the total number of months of support.

December 2002

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