Independent Research Scholar Program
2023 Program Overview
- The purpose of the program is to improve the workforce diversity of independent research scientists by selecting scholars who have a commitment to building a diverse Intramural Research Program (IRP). The expectation is that the participants will be competitive for Investigator (tenure-track) positions in the IRP and outside after succeeding in this position.
- Scholars will be independent, non-tenure track Principal Investigators. They will be scientifically independent of their previous mentor. They will be given their own independent resources and CAN. They will be invited to participate in faculty meetings and other Institute/Center (IC) activities along with tenure-track and tenured investigators.
- Eligible candidates include current NIH FTE research fellows and non-FTE postdoctoral fellows, as well as candidates from outside the NIH. Scholars must have no more than 4 years postdoctoral research in total, and if an internal NIH candidate must also have less than 3 years postdoctoral research in the NIH IRP, as of January 1, 2023. Graduate students currently completing their doctoral degrees may apply. However, it is a Federal government requirement that they must have received their doctoral diploma before they can be hired as an IRS investigator, because these are FTE positions.
- A postdoctoral fellow whose current mentor is an NIH tenure-track investigator but otherwise meets the eligibility criteria may apply. However, their application is discouraged because the program may not best serve their research and career success, compared to the traditionally successful model where a postdoctoral fellow works within the research program and under the direct supervision of the mentor. There should be a discussion with the Scientific Director about whether participation in the program is in the best interests of such a postdoctoral fellow as well as their mentor.
- Applicants with a Ph.D., M.D., or other biomedical doctoral degree and with relevant research experience, are eligible for acceptance into the program. The candidates must be US citizens or US permanent residents (“green card“). The position is designed for a three-year period, during which they will be encouraged to apply for a K99/R00 grant (if eligible). Ideally, the participants should apply to NIH Investigator positions, including the Stadtman search, no later than during their third year. The IRS position may be extended, upon approval of OIR, for a 4th year and no more than a 5th year, but only to allow for the scholar to finalize starting on a tenure-track position here or outside. The extensions must be within the IRP 5yr/8yr rule.
- The individuals selected for this program will be hired under the Research Fellow Intramural Professional Designation (IPD), an FTE under T42(g) (time-limited appointment) so that they can manage resources, including trainees. This position is currently exempt from review by the Hiring Controls Committee, but must fall within the Congressional Justification (CJ) ceiling for the IC and be reported on OHR data calls for FTEs.
- Independent resources allocated to participants - 2 postbaccs or other time-limited technical staff positions (term/temp FTE technician, post-baccalaureate fellows, temporary contract worker, displaced technical staff) and supplies.
- Estimated budget for the Scholar's first year (See sample Budget Plan): ICs may request from OIR up to $100,000 in one-time startup funds. The IC provides the FTE position as Research Fellow for the duration of the appointment. DDIR/OIR approval of the IRS appointment is required.
- Participants, in consultation with their mentors, will design a research proposal and career development plan with milestones to be achieved during their time in this position. Each participant must have mentors in addition to their lab mentor. The mentors’ involvement is envisioned as a key component for the success of the IRS. Participants should meet with their mentor(s) quarterly, at minimum, to ensure that milestones of the research plan are met.
- Scientific Director (SD) must approve the choice of mentors in advance.
- IC-managed evaluation of participants’ progress every 18 months. ICs have the option of convening a review committee of IC senior staff supplemented with subject matter experts, or using their BSC to handle the review. Report to be submitted to OIR.
- Central long-term tracking to follow future of candidates and evaluate program success (OIR/COSWD).
A central NIH application and review process for the IRS Program will be done once per year, aspiring to a cohort concept (for mentoring and other career development activities with others in this position in the same application pool). The deadline for applications is March 1, 2023 to avoid overlapping with Stadtman recruitment efforts. Applications should be submitted to Rena Rodriguez.
Interested graduate students or early postdoctoral fellows can initiate the process by contacting a relevant Principal Investigator who will serve as primary mentor. This PI should then contact the Scientific Director. If the SD supports the nomination, then an application is developed and submitted by the SD for central review. Alternatively, IC leadership can identify a candidate, and then proceed with an application. All applications, both from internal and external candidates, must be approved and submitted by the Scientific Director of the sponsoring IC.
The application will include the Nomination Coversheet and the following materials, submitted by the Scientific Director on behalf of the applicant [submit all nomination materials as one pdf document]:
- The candidate’s CV/Biosketch, including a list of publications, mentoring and leadership activities, awards, etc.
- A diversity statement (up to one-page). Include evidence of direct involvement in mentoring and commitment to diversity through outreach activities for women and persons from other groups which are underrepresented in biomedical research.
- A maximum one-page proposal titled "Research Goals" (i.e., the research the candidate hopes to perform at NIH). If currently in a post-doctoral position, explain how the work will be independent of the current advisor.
- A maximum one-page statement titled "Long-term Research Vision" (i.e., what the candidate hopes to achieve for her/himself, their field, and society).
- Three professional letters of references. One letter can be from the proposed mentor/sponsor, but this does not take the place of a Career Development Plan.
- Career Development Plan co-signed by the mentor.
- Description of the Budget Plan including one-time request for OIR start-up funds (up to $100,000), completed by the Scientific Director.
- (Optional) Applicants may include an appendix (up to one page) describing how the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affected their productivity.
Candidates will be evaluated in three categories:
- Candidate’s qualifications and potential
- Candidate’s commitment to building a diverse workforce
- IC commitment to the candidate
This page was last updated on Wednesday, January 4, 2023