An Investigator (1 and 2) is a NIH employee who is a tenure-track scientist selected by a Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) –approved national search. A tenure-track position represents a commitment by an Institute or Center (IC) of independent resources, including salary, operating budget, personnel, and space. Investigators are required to have regular outside, expert reviews by Boards of Scientific Counselors (BSC). Based on these and other reviews (assessing the productivity and quality of work), resources may be adjusted up or down by the IC.
The NIH tenure-track program is a six-year track (eight years for those performing clinical or epidemiological research), or earlier by special exception, where funding is provided for the entire employment period. An additional year is provided for family reasons without the need for DDIR approval. By written agreement between the Laboratory or Branch Chief and the Scientific Director (SD), and with the candidate’s consent, an exceptional candidate may be evaluated for tenure prior to this time period elapsing.
The Investigator 2 designation is reserved for individuals who not only fulfill the definition above, but also possess the following HHS-required scientific and/or clinical criteria:
- Recognition as a national or international expert in the field, such as: specific experience (e.g., a superlative review by the BSC, evidence of competitive outside grant support, board certification if clinical), invited manuscripts and/or presentations; receipt of honors and awards or other recognition for noteworthy performance of contributions to the field
- Original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance in the field
- Leadership in the field
- Special knowledge and skills of benefit to the NIH
As part of an effort to attract and retain top-level candidates for a variety of different scientific disciplines, the NIH has established two recruitment programs:
- Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator: a trans-NIH effort to attract a diverse group of talented early-career scientists pursuing interests across the biomedical research spectrum.
- NIH Lasker Clinical Research Scholars: an unprecedented "intramural–extramural" partnership between the IRP and the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation to fund top-notch physician-scientists for up to 11 years.
An Investigator (1 and 2) is a Full-Time Equivalent Employment (FTE) position.
In creating a tenure-track position, the Scientific Director must solicit recommendations from senior Institute scientists, Special Interest Groups (SIGs), IC Promotion and Tenure Review Panels, and/or the BSC. The tenure-track position (as well as the national search process and committee) must be approved by the DDIR. Once a suitable candidate has been selected, the DDIR must approve the appointment. Additional information regarding the search and selection process can be found in the Tenure-Track Overview.
Investigator 1 appointments at the NIH are made using Title 42(g). By exception from the DDIR, individuals who are already in another federal appointment mechanism (Title 5 or Commissioned Corps) may be approved to remain in that system as an Investigator; the tenure-track length would remain the same.
Investigator 2 appointments are made using Title 42(f), and defined as indefinite within the caveats stipulated by the tenure-track policy. Investigator 2 appointments are made following peer review and recommendation by the Title 42(f) Peer Review Committee (T42FPRC) and approval by the DDIR. This committee is often chaired by the DDIR.
Depending on salary level and other pay components proposed, review and approval for either and Investigator 1 or 2 is required from both the IC Title 42 Standing Committee and the NIH Compensation Committee (NCC). Please consult the Title 42 Pay Model for additional information.
For Investigators that require clinical credentialing, an additional approval must be received from the Director, CC (or delegate) after recommendation by the Clinical Center (CC) Credentials Committee and the Medical Executive Committee (MEC). For further information, please contact the Office of Credentialing Services, Clinical Center (OCS/CC) at email@example.com or 301-496-5937.
Check Sheets / Checklists
Below are the check sheets and checklists that have been developed and approved by the DDIR for the Investigator designation.
Individual ICs may have additional requirements, check sheets, and/or checklists. Please contact your Administrative Officer (AO) or HR Specialist for additional guidance. For examples of IC-specific check sheets and checklists, please visit:
Intramural scientists at the NIH, as is true for all scientists, should be committed to the responsible use of scientific tools and methods to seek new knowledge. While the general principles of scientific methodologies are universal, their detailed application may differ in various scientific disciplines and circumstances. All research staff in the Intramural Research Program should maintain exemplary standards of intellectual honesty in formulating, conducting, presenting, and reviewing research, as befits the leadership role of the NIH.
Within the NIH IRP, the ethical conduct of researchers is governed by the following three disciplines:
Ethics information may also be available through your specific IC. Please contact your Ethics Counselor for additional guidance.
Pay / Compensation
Pay and compensation for Title 42 appointed Investigators is based on the Title 42 Pay Model. Depending on salary level and other pay components proposed, review and approval is required from both the IC Title 42 Standing Committee and the NIH Compensation Committee (NCC).
Recruitment Process / Appointment Mechanisms
Recruitment of Investigator 1 candidates is made via Title 42(g) while Investigator 2 candidates is made via Title 42(f). Both require a DDIR-approved national search that has been requested by a SD (or IC Director), after consultation with Lab/Branch Chief and Senior Investigators in the IC and/or the BSC or other advisory group. Additional information regarding the search and selection process can be found in the Tenure-Track Overview.
In addition to the aforementioned process, the NIH has established two additional recruitment programs as part of an effort to attract and retain top-level candidates for a variety of different scientific disciplines:
- Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator: a trans-NIH effort to attract a diverse group of talented early-career scientists pursuing interests across the biomedical research spectrum. The Stadtman search seeks to identify talent through a broad search that can focus on specific areas of science or enable the candidates to bring their ideas to the NIH. Applicants are asked to describe their research, and—if we like what we see—we try to create a tenure-track position in one of our Institutes or Centers to match that talent. For additional information and application details, please visit the Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator page as part of the IRP Web site.
- NIH Lasker Clinical Research Scholars: an unprecedented "intramural–extramural" partnership between the IRP and the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation to fund top-notch physician-scientists for up to 11 years. The Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program combines a five to seven-year period of independent research as an NIH Principal Investigator with the opportunity to then either remain at the NIH as a tenured Senior Investigator or apply for up to four years of extramural financial support at a university or other external research institution. For additional information, please visit the Lasker Clinical Research Scholar page as part of the IRP Web site.
For additional information regarding search processes and appointment mechanisms, please visit:
- Search Process for Senior Investigators, Tenure-Track Investigators, Senior Clinicians and Senior Scientists
- Intramural Professional Designations and Appointment Mechanisms Matrix
Below is a sample memo and offer letter that has been developed and approved by the DDIR for the Investigator designation:
- Sample Conditional Offer Letter for Tenure-Track or Tenure-Eligible Investigators
- OIR Resources Agreement
Investigator 1s are on a time-limited, renewable appointments. The initial appointment should be made for no less than three years. Renewal periods are granted based on progress in the tenure-track, up to the maximum appropriate tenure-track length. Extensions beyond the appropriate tenure-track length must be approved by the DDIR.
Investigator 2 appointments are made using Title 42(f), and defined as indefinite within the caveats stipulated by the tenure-track policy
The BSC will conduct formal reviews of the investigators research approximately every three years. The review team will recommend that the candidate be:
- Continued in the tenure track;
- Dropped from the track; or
- Considered for evaluation for tenure
Tenure-track Investigators are granted independent resources (salary, operating budget, personnel, and space) by their Institute. The amount of research support, however, must depend on the quality of science as determined by the BSC and other reviews. All Investigators are required to have regular outside, expert reviews by BSC (approximately every three years). Based on these and other reviews (assessing the productivity and quality of work), resources may be adjusted up or down by the IC.
To be continued in the tenure-track program, a candidate must demonstrate continued research progress consistent with the programmatic and research goals defined in the Tenure-Track Policy and in the Criteria for Tenure. The pace of this progress should be sufficient such that, if continued, the candidate would be expected to receive tenure after 6/7 years (8/9 years for those performing clinical or epidemiological research), or earlier.
The BSC will conduct formal reviews of the Investigator’s research approximately every three years. The review team will recommend that the candidate be: 1) continued in the tenure track, 2) dropped from the track, or 3) considered for evaluation for tenure. If the BSC review or the IC’s tenure committee (Policy on IC Tenure Review Committees) does not support the nomination for tenure, the candidate should be notified at once and given a terminal year to look for another employment opportunity.
The page was last updated on Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 1:24pm