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Independent Research Scholar Program

Program Highlights

  • The focused purpose of the program will be to build the workforce diversity of independent research scientists. The expectation is that the participants will be highly competitive for Investigator (tenure-track) positions in the IRP and outside after succeeding in this position, with the goal that the majority will be retained within the IRP as Investigators (tenure-track) and will demonstrate commitment to build a diverse IRP.
  • Eligible candidates include current NIH FTE research fellows and non-FTE postdoctoral fellows, as well as candidates from outside the NIH. At the time of starting as an Independent Research Scholar (IRS), 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. ICs may allow for various start dates as long as IRS EOD is with < 3 years NIH postdoc research experience. Thus, the cohorts will be determined by the application pool (e.g., 2019 applicants, 2020 applicants, etc.)
  • Applicants with Ph.D. or M.D. 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 3 year period, during which they will be encouraged / assisted to apply for a K99/R00 grant, even if the intent is for the majority to be retained in the IRP after successfully competing for a tenure-track position. 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 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 $25K/year per bench person (including the IRS) for supplies.
  • Estimated budget/year per participant: $75K-$100K salary/benefits per IRS + $35K-40K/postbacc (x2 postbaccs) + $75K for supplies ($25K/person) = $220K - $255K per participant. ICs may request from OIR up to $100K in one-time startup funds. 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.
  • Scientific Director (SD) must approve choice of mentor in advance.
  • IC-managed annual evaluation of participants' progress through subject-matter experts. Report to be submitted to OIR.
  • Central long term tracking to follow future of candidates and evaluate program success (OIR/COSWD).

Application Process

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 will be February 1, 2019 to avoid overlapping with Stadtman recruitment efforts. Applications should be submitted to Rena Rodriguez (rodriren@mail.nih.gov).

Interested graduate students or early postdoctoral fellows can initiate the process by contacting a relevant Principal Investigator, who 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.

The application will include the following materials [in pdf format], submitted by the Scientific Director on behalf of the applicant:

  1. The candidate's CV, including a list of publications, mentoring and leadership activities, awards, etc. Include specifically any direct involvement in mentoring and commitment to diversity through outreach activities for women and persons from other groups which are underrepresented in biomedical research.
  2. A maximum three-page proposal titled "Research Goals" (i.e., the research the candidate hopes to perform at NIH).
  3. 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).
  4. Three professional letters of references.
  5. Description of the budget plan, including one-time request for OIR start-up fund (up to $100k), completed by the Scientific Director.
  6. Career development plan co-signed by the mentor.

Dr. Charles Dearolf and Ms. Rena Rodriguez will be the contact points for the IRS program to answer questions from applicants and manage the central application and review processes.


First Established:
Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 9:00am

The page was last updated on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 6:07pm