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Postdoctoral Programs at the NIH

Postdocs at the NIH include

  • Postdoc Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) recipients (CRTAs or Cancer Research Training Award recipients in the National Cancer Institute),
  • Visiting Fellows,
  • Clinical Fellows,
  • Research Fellows, and
  • Postdocs in several other small training programs housed at the NIH. 

Regardless of what you are called, you all have in common the recent completion of a PhD, an MD, or an equivalent doctoral degree; a commitment to a temporary biomedical research experience in the NIH Intramural Research Program; and the opportunity to be a contributing member of the scientific community at the NIH.  Although research should be your first priority during your stay at the NIH, we encourage you to make the time to develop your communication skills and participate in career/professional development activities that will help prepare you for success as a biomedical scientist. You should begin preparing for your career as soon as you arrive at the NIH and be certain to use your time well.

Altogether, the NIH is home to about 4000 postdocs.  Just under 40% of our postdocs are U.S. citizens or permanent residents; the rest come from countries around the world, with the largest populations coming from the People's Republic of China, India, Korea, Japan, and Europe.

 The Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) works with the Training Offices in the Institutes and Centers to ensure that your postdoctoral 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 of the OITE Career Services Center.  We can also help with educational loan deferments.

The Office of Postdoctoral Services (OPS) in OITE is specifically responsible for postdocs.  When you first arrive at the NIH

  • be sure to attend a postdoc orientation session;
  • 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 postdoc listserv (OITE-POSTDOCS); read more about available listservs/sign up;
  • visit the Postdoc Compiled page weekly to see events and news targeted specifically to you; and
  • come to Building 2 to meet OITE staff, and drop by your IC Training Office to meet your Training Director.

Activities offered by the OITE and OPS include

Keep your eye out for two major annual events for postdocs and graduate students at the NIH: the NIH Career Symposium, a full day of panels focusing of career options in the sciences, both at and away from the bench, and the International Opportunities EXPO, which brings together representatives of international funding agencies, embassies, and global corporations to discuss scientific opportunities abroad.

The Career Symposium and the International EXPO are the result of highly successful collaborations between the OITE, the NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom), and the Graduate Student Council and the OITE and the Visiting Fellows Subcommittee of FelCom, respectively.  These collaborations greatly expand the programming that we can offer while providing postdocs and graduate students with leadership opportunities. 

Last, but certainly not least, having a community with which to share the NIH experience is often a large part of feeling comfortable here. The NIH is home to many organized communities. Take a moment to check them out.