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Postbaccalaureate Programs at the NIH

NIH postbac programs provide you with a full-time biomedical research experience.  It is our hope that many of you will decide to include research as an important component of your future career, and we hope you will all leave with a deep understanding of how scientific investigation works and what it entails.  Although research should be your first priority during your stay at the NIH, we encourage you to find the time to participate in career development activities and reach out to the community around you.

Postbacs at the NIH include

  • Postbac Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) recipients (CRTAs or Cancer Research Training Award recipients in the National Cancer Institute),
  • Technical IRTAs, and
  • UGSP payback scholars who have just received their bachelor's degrees

Altogether, the NIH is home to more than 600 postbacs, all of whom are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  Postbacs at the NIH come from most states in the Union and the District of Columbia as well as from Puerto Rico.

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) works with the Training Offices in the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) to ensure that the postbac experience is as rewarding as possible.  We aim to help all NIH trainees become creative leaders in the biomedical research community.  In addition to participating in the training activities offered by your IC, please be certain to take advantage of OITE career and professional development activities and the OITE Career Services Center.  A big part of our job is helping you prepare for the next stage in your career.  We can assist you with applying to graduate or professional school, mock interviews, and evaluating career options.  We can also help with educational loan deferments.

The Office of Postbaccalaureate and Summer Research Programs  (PSRP) in OITE is specifically responsible for postbacs.  When you first arrive at the NIH

  • be sure to attend an OITE postbac orientation session;
  • read the new 2012 Postbac Handbook on your IPad or Kindle or download the PDF;
  • create an "NIH Trainee/Fellow" account for yourself on the OITE Web site so that you can register for events with a single click of your mouse, make appointments with career counselors, and access the Alumni Database;
  • make certain you are included on the official postbac listserv (OITE-POSTBACS) and consider joining the Club PCR listserv (read more about available listservs/sign up);
  • visit the Postbac Compiled page weekly to see events and news especially relevant to you;
  • check out our new online resources that can help you with things like keeping a lab notebook, attending a scientific meeting, writing professional e-mail, and lab math;  and
  • come Building 2 to meet OITE staff, and drop by your IC Training Office to meet your Training Director.

The NIH Academy is a program dedicated to educating trainees about health disparities.  Health disparities are defined as significant differences between one population and another regarding rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality.  All current NIH postbacs interested in learning about the research being done to eliminate health disparities are eligible to apply to the NIH Academy. The NIH Academy engages NIH postbacs in journal clubs, seminars, expert led discussions, and community outreach all centered on health disparities in vulnerable populations.  As a member of the NIH Academy you will gain an understanding of the various determinants of health and disease in vulnerable populations.  For email updates please register your interest in the NIH Academy here.

If you are interested in planning community outreach and social events for postbacs, we can help you link up with the NIH Postbac Committee.  (NOTE: access to the Postbac Committee Web pages is restricted to NIH postbacs and staff.  To access the pages, you must first login to the OITE Web site using your "NIH Trainee/Fellow" account.)   The Postbac Committee includes postbacs from each NIH IC that has an intramural research program. The committee sponsors a wide variety of events and services including: 

  • The Postbac Seminar Series: Held monthly, the seminar series offers postbacs the opportunity to gain experience in scientific public speaking by presenting their research to a group of their peers.  Speakers are solicited in the fall via an announcment sent to  Postbac-L.  Seminars are listed under Upcoming Events.
  • Community Service Activities: Postbacs work with other NIH trainees to coordinate a bi-monthly blood drive for the NIH Blood Bank, feeding the homeless, and other outreach activities.
  • Social Activities: These include periodic All-Postbac Lunches, and other social gatherings.

If you are interested in being involved in the Postbac Committee, please contact Dr. Pat Sokolove.

Activities offered by the PSRP include scientific skills workshops;  workshops devoted to getting to graduate school and getting to medical school; and brown bag career exploration lunches.  Keep your eyes open for two major annual events specifically for postbacs: Postbac Poster Day, held in conjunction with the Spring Research Festival, which will allow you to share the results of your research with the NIH community and the Graduate & Professional School Fair, in the summer, which is attended by representatives of more than 100 institutions from across the U.S.