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ORISE Senior Fellow

The ORISE Senior Fellow Program provides opportunities for experienced scientists who wish to make major changes in the direction of their research careers or who wish to broaden their scientific background by acquiring new research capabilities. These awards enable individuals with ten or more years of relevant research experience beyond the doctorate, who have progressed to an independent position, to take time from regular professional responsibilities for the purpose of receiving training to increase their scientific capabilities. The program allows faculty members and visiting scientists with opportunities to:

  • Continue their research training/education
  • Enhance their professional development in very specific research areas
  • Become familiar with the research areas of NIH
  • Interest their students in future employment in fields related to the NIH mission

As a result of these training appointments, new knowledge and technology are introduced into programs at academic institutions and other research facilities.

Generally, ORISE candidates possess the following qualifications:

  • Applicants for the position must be at least ten years beyond the qualifying doctoral degree, which includes a Ph.D., M.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.V.M., O.D., D.P.M., Sc.D., Eng.D., N.D., D.C., Dr. P.H., D.N.S., Pharm. D., D.S.W., Psy.D., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution, and must have had ten or more subsequent years of relevant research or professional experience.
  • Since the purpose of the ORISE Senior Fellowship is re-training, individuals who have been at NIH as a Postdoctoral Fellow (Intramural Research Training Award [IRTA] or Visiting Fellow), or as a Research Fellow or Clinical Fellow (Title 42 (g)), regardless of mechanism of support, are not eligible to apply or be appointed within two years of such previous appointment.
  • Before submitting an application, an individual must arrange for acceptance by an Intramural NIH sponsor. The applicant's sponsor should be an active investigator in the area of the proposed research who will directly supervise the candidate's research during the period of the fellowship. The sponsor must document the availability of staff, research support, and facilities for high-quality research training.
  • For Non-U.S. citizens. a valid visa status that allows them to participate in the program will be eligible for appointments. ORAU is designated by the U.S. Information Agency as sponsor of Exchange Visitor Program P-1-2822. ORAU can sponsor foreign nationals in the Exchange Visitor Program as Research Scholars (J-1 visa), who become subject to the 2-year home country residency requirement.

The ORISE Senior Fellow Program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) through an Interagency Agreement (IAA) with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ORISE in managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities under DOE contract number DE-AC05-06OR23100. In turn, the NIH Institute or Center (IC) executes an IAA with ORISE.

An ORISE Senior Fellow is a non-Full-Time Equivalent Employment (FTE) position. All ORISE Senior Fellow appointments should be entered into NED using the “Postdoctoral Fellow (Senior/ORISE Senior Fellow)” Intramural Professional Designation (IPD).

Approvals (Process)

The ORISE Senior Fellowship requires three distinct sets of reviews and approvals from various designees before the appointment can commence:

  1. IC Sponsor
    • The IC Sponsor and his/her Administrative Officer (AO) must complete Department of the Treasury forms 7600A and 7600B.
      1. Authorize funding for all direct costs for the Fellow for an initial period not to exceed 12 months, plus 23% for ORISE and DOE administrative costs.
      2. Obtain all the appropriate signatures for the Interagency Agreement, including that of the IC's financial officer.
    • Submit the completed Senior Fellow application package to the Office of Intramural Research (OIR) for approval, including:
      1. Completed and signed ORISE Senior Fellow Check Sheet (including all supporting documents).
      2. ORISE Research Participation Programs Selection and Approval Form
      3. Completed Forms 7600A and 7600B for final approval by OIR (Deputy Director for Intramural Research/or designee). Only one copy is needed for DOE. If your IC requires more than one original, please indicate on the routing slip.
      4. Enter the individual into NED with the appropriate IPD – “Postdoctoral Fellow (Senior/ORISE Senior Fellow)”
  2. NIH Office of Intramural Research (OIR)
    • An ORISE Senior Fellow appointment requires review and approval from both the Institute and Center (IC) and the Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) or designee.
    • The OIR Management Liaison must also review and approve the required Interagency Agreement prior to the IC forwarding it to DOE/Oak Ridge Operations to obligate funds.
  3. ORISE
    • ORISE will proceed with the appointment offer and secure a necessary visa, where necessary, only after all documents have been reviewed and approved. DOE must notify ORISE that funds have been obligated before a final approval can be received.
    • All documents and correspondence must be filed with the NIH OIR Management Liaison before the appointment can start.

The individuals selected for appointments do not become employees of ORISE, ORAU, DOE, NIH, or any other office or agency. Program participants are paid a monthly stipend. There are no salaries or fringe benefits paid.

Contingencies and Obligations

All contingencies of an appointment offer must be met before an awardee can begin an appointment. In cases where assignments require a security clearance, NIH will be responsible for obtaining any necessary clearances for participants. Additionally, participants who are not U.S. citizens may encounter delays if they have not completed their visa arrangements. ORAU is an approved sponsor of the Exchange Visitor (J-1 visa) Program and will provide assistance in obtaining visas for the participant and appropriate family members.

Participants become administratively associated with ORISE through a letter of appointment and the ORISE Terms of Appointment. They will receive Guest Researcher appointments at the host laboratory and will not enter into an employer/employee relationship with NIH, ORAU, ORISE, DOE, or any other office or agency. In addition, ORISE Senior Fellows are not eligible for future employment with NIH.

Participants are required to show proof of health/medical insurance. Participants on appointments of one year or longer are eligible to purchase group insurance through ORISE, and NIH can authorize a stipend increase to cover the costs of the insurance. ORAU insurance will be available to participants on board one month or longer.

Participants are required to sign and abide by the appointment letter, the ORISE Terms of Appointment that include a disclaimer of liability, and other documents required by the sponsor or host laboratory. Pursuant to Title 35 U.S. Code, Section 212, no provision of the ORISE Terms of Appointment or any other document required by ORISE to be completed by a participant may contain any provision giving ORISE any rights to inventions made by the participant.

Legal Authority and References

  1. The Director, NIH, may conduct and support research training for which fellowship support is not provided under Section 487 of the PHS Act and which is not residency training of physicians or other health professionals [42 U.S.C. 282(b)(13)];
  2. The Directors of the national research institutes may conduct and support research training for which fellowship support is not provided under Section 487, and which is not residency training of physicians or other health professionals [42 U.S.C. 284(b)(1)(C)];
  3. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, OD, NIH, may conduct research training as described in 42 U.S.C. 287c-21(a);
  4. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) may conduct research training as described in 42 U.S.C. 286b-3 (NLM Traineeships limited to Post-baccalaureate students only);
  5. 42 CFR Part 63, Public Health Service Regulations.
  6. The Secretary may… establish and maintain fellowships in the United States and in participating foreign countries [PHS Act Sec. 307 [242l] (b)(2)].

Check Sheets / Checklists

Below is the check sheet that has been developed and approved by the DDIR for the ORISE Senior Fellow designation.

Individual ICs may have additional requirements and check sheets. 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 thru your specific IC. Please contact your Ethics Counselor for additional guidance.

Pay / Compensation

NIH does not financially compensate ORISE Senior Fellows for their activities or services. Stipends for ORISE Senior Fellows are determined individually and should fall within the salary range for Senior Research Fellows (Title 42, Band II), at a level appropriate to experience and qualifications and taking into account any outside support (e.g, fellowship or sabbatical salary). Stipends can include an amount to help cover the costs of health insurance. Stipends are reported to the Internal Revenue Service as fellowship awards. However, no federal income taxes will be withheld by ORISE (except when required for certain foreign nationals).

It should also be noted that ORISE generally reimburses participants for NIH-authorized relocation and/or other travel expenses according to the federally approved ORISE Travel Policy. NIH can authorize reimbursements for inbound travel and moving expenses or travel to conferences and meetings. Taxable relocation allowances in lieu of other travel reimbursements can also be made.


ORISE Senior Fellowship support may be requested for a period of up to 2 years, with renewals possible for a terminal third year. Approval by the DDIR is required for all appointments to the Senior Fellow Program and for exceptional extensions for a terminal third year. A second year renewal does not require DDIR approval - approval remains with the IC.


An ORISE Senior Fellow is not granted independent resources by their Institute.


All appointments are contingent upon continued availability of funds. In the event that funding is depleted before the end of the authorized appointment period, additional funding may be sent to complete the appointment. Alternatively, fellowships may terminate or renew the appointment early.

The page was last updated on Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 4:12pm