I’ve just finished an IC-specific study section that reviewed K awards and R03s.
A few thoughts on how K99/R00’s get reviewed.
Of the different components, its clear that the Research Plan is most important, certainly more than others., However, a bad training plan can sink the score even if research is rated “1”. Rule of thumb if you are writing one: Excellence in everything, but some things need to be more excellent than others. The quality of the mentors clearly ways heavily and can carry the “environment” part of the score.
Things that we were explicitly told is that the applicant needs to have a transition plan from K to R phase. It isn’t enough to say “it will flow naturally”- it needs to show how the work will transition from one place to another, from one career stage to another, and how the mentor sees it.
More technical concerns: the applicant needs to be senior postdoc, not for initial phases of postdoc training. But… applicant must justify training in the k-years. Its not good enough to say that “I will finish up a project I’ve already started”. Finally, at least at this IC, the qualification for application is going from 5 years post terminal degree to 4 years post terminal degree. However, if there is time off between degree and start of first postdoc, then the start of the job will be counted as the starting point.