Skip to Content

Postdoctoral Training in the NIH Intramural Research Program: Postdoctoral Research Training Awards (IRTAs) and Visiting Fellows

 

Program Description:


Postdoctoral training in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) provides the opportunity for recent doctoral degree recipients to enhance their research skills in the resource-rich National Institutes of Health (NIH) environment, which consists of more than 1200 laboratories/research projects located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD and the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; and Detroit, MI. Trainees pursue basic, translational, and clinical research free from the demands of obtaining grants and teaching, although opportunities to do both are available.

At the NIH, postdocs work in a highly collaborative research environment with leading scientists and clinicians.  They share the NIH campus with the largest translational research hospital in the nation.  They explore areas such as bioinformatics, biophysics, epidemiology, immunology, cell and molecular biology, neuroscience, health sciences, structural biology, sensory and communication neuroscience, molecular pathology, biobehavioral research, and developmental biology.

The postdoctoral community at the NIH is large (approximately 3,100 strong) and vibrant. Trainees come from across the U.S. and around the world, with large contingents from the People's Republic of China, India, Korea, Japan, and various European countries. Support for international postdocs is provided by the NIH Division of International Services.

Announcements of some currently available postdoctoral positions are posted online. Given the large size of the NIH postdoctoral program, new positions become available daily. Additionally, some postdoctoral positions are not posted; information on such positions can be obtained by contacting the PIs directly.

Eligibility:


To be eligible for postdoctoral training in the NIH IRP, individuals must hold a doctoral degree (PhD, MD, DDS, or the equivalent) and have no more than five years of relevant research experience since receipt of their most recent doctoral degree. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are appointed to Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Awards (IRTAs); citizens of other nations are appointed as Visiting Fellows.

Background Check:


All fellowship offers are contingent on your ability to successfully pass a federal background check, which is required for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems. As part of the clearance process, you will be asked questions about a variety of topics including your citizenship, criminal history, and other personal information.  One specific question you will be asked is “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?”  This question pertains to the use of controlled substances or drugs as defined under federal law. Please be aware that while marijuana may be legal or decriminalized within your home jurisdiction it remains illegal under U.S. federal law.  The use, possession, supply, or manufacture of marijuana may preclude you from obtaining the necessary clearances to participate in NIH intramural training programs, even if you were initially offered a position. If you have questions about this policy or would like guidance on the clearance process, please reach out to oite@nih.gov (please put “Eligibility Inquiry” in the subject line).   

Stipend and Benefits:


The stipends for postdoctoral trainees at the NIH are adjusted yearly; with supplements for prior experience, multiple degrees, and expertise in areas of current interest to the NIH such as mathematics, engineering, chemistry, and bioinformatics. For details, see the Trainee Stipends page. Note that stipends for Postdoc IRTAs and Visiting Fellows are identical. Benefits include health insurance for the trainee and his/her family, and support for coursework related to the trainee's research and travel to meetings is often available. In addition, the NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom) and the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) sponsor a wide range of career development and social activities. The OITE includes an Office of Postdoctoral Services, a Career Services Center and Career Library.

Application Procedure:


As is generally the case, potential applicants for postdoctoral positions are encouraged to contact NIH investigators with whom they would like to work directly, regardless of whether a position has been posted or not. You can find a YouTube video entitled Finding an NIH Mentor on the OITE YouTube page.