Level of education

K12 Scholars must possess a PhD in a clinical discipline, MD, PharmD or comparable doctoral degree. Applications from highly qualified clinicians, such as doctoral nurses, clinical psychologists, social workers, and dentists, are encouraged.


Eligible applicants must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States, or have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence and have in their possession an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-551) or other legal verification of admission for permanent residence. Non-citizen nationals are persons born in lands that are not States but are under U.S. sovereignty, jurisdiction, or administration (e.g., American Samoa). Individuals on visas are not eligible.

Career level

Individuals applying to the K12 Program should be at an early stage of their career. The K12 Program expects applicants to be postdoctoral level trainees or early junior faculty level trainees who plan to conduct, or are conducting, clinical research in substance use and substance use disorder.

The K12 award is not intended for individuals making mid-career changes into clinical research.

Faculty appointment

At the time of application to the K12 Program, individuals do not have to have a faculty appointment. However, if selected as a K12 Scholar, a faculty appointment is required prior to beginning the program.

Professional effort

K12 Scholars must devote at least 75% professional effort to the program. All appointments are for one year with the potential for additional years of funding with satisfactory progress.

Mentor support

K12 scholars must have the support of two mentors. These mentors must be approved by the Program.

Research project

All applicants must be conducting clinical, translational research focused on substance use and substance use disorder. Clinical research is defined as patient-oriented research, that is, research conducted with human subjects or on material of human origin such as tissues, specimens and cognitive phenomena, for which an investigator or colleague directly interacts with human subjects. Translation is defined by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) as the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individual and the public – from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes. More information on the translational spectrum may be found on the NCATS website.

Principal Investigator status

The applicant cannot have had a previous mentored career development award, and cannot be a current or former PI on NIH research project grants or equivalent non-PHS peer-reviewed research grants over $100,000 in annual direct costs.

Federal salary support

Applicants may not obtain salary support from other federal grants.

The expected amount of time any one Scholar will spend in the K12 program is two years. For additional time in the program Scholars would need to justify the need for further mentored research training or training in a team context.