This report evaluates the Research Career Development Award (RCDA) program of the National Institutes of Health. It describes how Initial Review Groups (IRGs) select candidates to receive an RCDA, and how the careers and accomplishments of RCDA recipients differ from those of other researchers, and it attempts to determine whether these differences are attributable to the impact of the RCDA program. The major effect of the program is an increase in the rate of research participation. Although the RCDA program supports persons who will become outstanding researchers, it is not because it "creates" them, but because the IRGs are able to target them. In recent years, however, the program has not consistently awarded grants to researchers in the intended career stage — that is, to those with limited career experience.
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