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2023 NIH -OITE Postbac Enrichment Program (OITE-PEP)

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Program Description

The OITE-PEP application is now closed. 

The OITE-sponsored Postbac Enrichment Program (OITE-PEP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers competitive funding to trainees at the postbaccalaureate level interested in learning about the breadth of biomedical research. At the NIH "biomedical sciences" includes everything from behavioral and social sciences and health disparities, through biology and chemistry, to physics, mathematical modeling, computational biology, data science, and biostatistics. OITE-PEP fellows will spend one to two years working on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland side-by-side with some of the world's leading scientists, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. During their tenure at NIH, fellows will be matched with mentors in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP). They will be immersed in a culture of biomedical science and will explore important elements of the basic, translational, and clinical research enterprise. (To get an idea of the types of research conducted in the 24 Institutes and Centers that make up the Intramural NIH, visit In addition to performing full-time research, fellows will:

  • Participate in an in-depth orientation to familiarize themselves with NIH organization and research culture, learn about resources and activities available to enrich the training experience, and build community as a cohort.
  • Participate in a leadership and professional development program focused on self-exploration, building resilience and wellness, understanding conflict, finding mentors, and understanding emotional intelligence.
  • Receive one-on-one mentorship to ensure a successful research training experience that focuses both on the fellow’s research and career/professional goals.
  • Engage with the broader NIH community by presenting their research at the NIH Postbac Poster Day.
  • Establish an individualized development plan to take advantage of the many workshops and activities offered for NIH postbacs. These include lectures such as, "Going to Graduate School" and "Going to Medical School", communication skills workshops, and the NIH Graduate & Professional School Fair.
  • Have the option to participate in the NIH Academy, which offers current NIH postbacs the opportunity to learn about health disparities and what is being done to address them.

During their time at NIH, scholars will receive a monthly stipend and Transhare benefits for travel within the Metro DC area (Transhare is a transportation subsidy provided to individuals who agree to use any form of public transportation and not their car to get to work.). Health insurance (individual or family coverage) will also be provided.


The OITE-PEP is designed to encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences to perform biomedical research at the NIH while developing their scientific, leadership, and professional skills in preparation for careers in health care and biomedical research. OITE-PEP fellows should be committed to pursuing a career in biomedical science and be planning to attend graduate and/or professional (medical/dental/pharmacy/nursing, etc.) school. NIH encourages applications from students in all science disciplines.

Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been underrepresented in health-related sciences; Students with disabilities; students who are Pell Grant-eligible; students who are enrolled in Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); students who identify as LGBTQ; and individuals disadvantaged by circumstances that have negatively impacted their educational opportunities, including recent natural disasters, are encouraged to apply.

In addition, OITE-PEP fellows must meet all the eligibility criteria for the NIH Postbac Program (determine whether you are eligible). They must:

  1. Be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and
  2. Meet one of the following criteria
  • Be college graduates who received their bachelor's degrees less than THREE years prior to the date they begin the program (regardless of whether they subsequently completed a master's degree), OR
  • Be individuals who are more than 3 years past the receipt of their bachelor's degree but received a master's degree less than SIX MONTHS before they begin the program, OR
  • Be individuals who meet criterion (1) and/or (2) who have been accepted into graduate, other doctoral, or medical school programs and who have written permission from their school to delay entrance for up to one year to pursue a biomedical research project at the NIH.
  1. Pass a Federal Background Check:
    In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a Federal background check, using Standard Form-85 (read SF-85). NOTE: Section 14 of the form asks, “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?” The question pertains to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.

Application Process

Applicants should complete both the standard NIH Postbac IRTA application AND the OITE-Postbac Enrichment Program application. The OITE-PEP application includes a letter of interest discussing your reasons for applying specifically to the OITE-PEP, your research and career goals, and how participating in this program will enrich your training and educational experience at NIH.

NOTE: References included in the standard NIH Postbac IRTA application are sufficient; applicants do not need to be submit separate references for the OITE-PEP specific application.

The application is now closed. Both, the OITE-PEP and the NIH Postbac IRTA applications, including reference letters, must be completed by the application due date for applicants to be considered for the program. 

Note: Current postbacs are not eligible to apply nor are applicants who have already secured a postbac position.

All applicants will be notified of their status by January 27th, 2023. Potential candidates must be available for a brief virtual interview in early-mid February 2023 prior to final selections and will be notified of final decision by February 27th, 2023. 

How the Program Works

The selection committee will review applications to the OITE-Postbac Enrichment Program and select the final cohort. All applicants will be informed of the committee's decisions by January 27th, 2023. Semi-finalists will be invited for a virtual interview the week of February 6-10th, 2023. After interviews, final decision will be made by February 27th, 2023. Program staff will help match individuals who are selected to a research group that best aligns with their research interests. Applicants should NOT contact NIH intramural scientists during the application and selection process to placements on their own. Please note that the process securing a research group as OITE-PEP fellow differs from the general NIH Postbac Program.

All participants must be available to start their positions on July 10th, 2023 including attendance to mandatory orientation.

Postbac IRTAs are full-time positions; postbacs are expected to devote a minimum of 40 hours per week to their projects and training. Students should not, therefore, expect to take courses during the daytime. Furthermore, they should not make plans for evening coursework or volunteer activities before speaking to program staff.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although you use the standard NIH IRTA Postbac application to apply for OITE-PEP (in addition to the program specific application), eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and program curricula differ (view a Postbac program comparison chart). Please read the program descriptions carefully to determine which will best fit your needs.