Technical Intramural Research Training Award (Technical IRTA)
Program Description: The NIH Technical IRTA Program (CRTA, Cancer Research Training Award in the National Cancer Institute) is designed to produce a cadre of highly trained research support personnel. College graduates and individuals who hold a master's degree spend two years (possibly three) mastering the latest and most advanced techniques for basic and/or applied research working in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and 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.
You can identify NIH investigators with projects that interest you by searching the NIH Intramural Annual Reports. Use the text search feature to find project descriptions that contain the key words you enter. You can then find contact information for the investigators in the NIH Enterprise Directory.
Each Technical IRTA has a scientific "home" in the NIH Institute or Center (IC) of his/her principal investigator (PI). The IC manages all of the administrative details of the IRTA appointment and the IC training office provides a variety of scientific and career enrichment activities.
Technical IRTA/CRTAs are considered part of the larger postbac community at the NIH, along with Postbac IRTA/CRTAs, members of the NIH Academy, and other recent college graduates. The NIH-wide Office of Intramural Training & Education sponsors a wide range of career and professional development activities for postbacs, including skills workshops on topics such as oral and poster presentations and reading a scientific paper; workshops on getting to graduate school and getting to professional school; career exploration sessions; a Graduate & Professional School Fair; and Postbac Poster Day. The NIH provides a wealth of additional scientific seminars. The Postbac Committee plans social and community outreach activities.
Eligibility: U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have graduated from an accredited college or university in the U.S. with a bachelor's or master's degree are eligible to apply to the Technical IRTA program.
Stipend and Benefits: The stipends for trainees are adjusted yearly; the level depends on prior experience. For details, see the Trainee Stipends page. The cost of health insurance for the Technical IRTA/CRTA and his/her family is covered. In addition, each Technical IRTA is expected to complete two courses related to the training experience per year at a local academic institution and one practical BIO-TRAC course offered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences at the NIH every six months. The hiring Institute or Center will fund this training.
Application Procedure: Prospective candidates must apply online. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply three to six months before they wish to begin their training at the NIH. The program has no fixed start date. The application requires submission of
- a curriculum vitae or resume,
- a list of coursework and grades,
- a cover letter describing the applicant's research interests and career goals,
- and the names and contact information for three references.
Candidates may specify the Institute or Center, scientific methodologies or disease/organ systems that interest them.
Selection: Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis year round by scientists in the Institutes and Centers of the NIH. Individual scientists select their own Technical IRTAs and provide the funding to support them; there is no centralized selection process. For suggestions on how to increase your chances of being offered a position, please read the Technical IRTA Program Frequently Asked Questions. You can find a YouTube video entitled Finding an NIH Mentor, which demonstrates how to use NIH investigator databases, on the OITE YouTube page.
Candidates will be informed of their selection by the hiring Institute. Successful candidates will be required to submit the following documentation to their Institute or Center prior to beginning their training:
- Official high school, college, or graduate school transcripts
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. U.S. citizens may submit a copy of their birth certificate or passport. Permanent residents will need to provide a copy of their alien registration card.
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Advice to Applicants
- Web site for Current Postbacs
- read the Postbac Handbook on your IPad or Kindle or download the PDF
- IC Training Offices/Training Directors
- Postbac Poster Day Program (2014)
- NIH Scientific Interest Groups (SIGS)
- NED, the NIH Enterprise Directory (contains contact information for NIH investigators)
- Intramural Investigator Database