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Senior Research Fellow

A Senior Research Fellow is a NIH employee who possesses a doctoral degree and is on a time-limited, renewable appointment. The position represents a scientific appointment for individuals who have gained considerable experience (i.e., more than 10 years) beyond postdoctoral training in positions outside of NIH. The designation is not intended for scientists who have gained their experience at NIH (i.e., Research Fellows who have completed eight years of service and are attempting to convert to a Senior Research Fellow appointment).

It should be noted that a scientist with less than 10 years of experience (8-9 years) could be considered for a Senior Research Fellow appointment as long as most of their experience has been gained from outside NIH. The type of past experience is also an important factor in the decision (e.g., experience as in a senior/associate director in industry, assistant/associate professor in academia, etc.). If a candidate has been previously employed by NIH, in any capacity after their doctorate (e.g., Special Volunteer or Contract Worker), they must wait a minimum of two years before applying for a Senior Research Fellowship.

Because Senior Research Fellows perform services for NIH in addition to the training experience, these positions apply against the Institute and Center’s (IC) Full-Time Equivalent Employment (FTE) ceiling.

A Senior Research Fellow is a Full-Time Equivalent Employment (FTE) position.

Approvals (Process)

Senior Research Fellows are appointed using Title 42(g) and approved by the delegated authority in each IC. Depending on salary level and other pay components proposed, review and approval may be 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.

Initial Senior Research Fellow appointments may be made in increments up to 5 years. The Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) must approve any appointment that extends beyond 8 years. Also, a Senior Research Fellow appointment does not impact the “1:1 Senior Investigator/Investigator to Staff Scientist” ratio (i.e., DDIR approval is not required to appoint a Staff Scientist and a Senior Research Fellow under the same Principal Investigator [PI]).

For Senior Research Fellows 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 or 301-496-5937.

Check Sheets / Checklists

There is currently no Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) -approved check sheet or checklist for the Senior Research 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 through your specific IC. Please contact your Ethics Counselor for additional guidance.

Pay / Compensation

Pay and compensation for Title 42(g) appointed Senior Research Fellows is based on the Title 42 Pay Model. Senior Research Fellow salary ranges are in Band II (minimum salary is the minimum for Band II). Depending on salary level and other pay components proposed, review and approval may be required from both the IC Title 42 Standing Committee and the NIH Compensation Committee (NCC).

Recruitment Process / Appointment Mechanisms

Recruitment of a Senior Research Fellow is made via Title 42.

Qualifications for a Senior Research Fellow appointment include the following:

  1. Appointees must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent resident (green card, resident alien), or non-resident aliens with a valid employment-authorized visa.
  2. Candidates must possess a Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M. or equivalent degree in a biomedical, behavioral, or related science, or have been certified by a university as meeting all the requirements leading to such a doctorate.
  3. Candidates must furnish proof that they meet educational requirements. For most scientists, official transcripts are required. For very senior scientists with established professional reputations who are well known in their fields, a copy of the doctoral degree, and professional license if any, may be sufficient. However, if the diploma does not indicate the field in which the doctorate is awarded (e.g., indicates only Doctor of Philosophy), then copies of transcripts or listings of courses are required.
  4. Foreign Education:
    1. Foreign educated scientists from certain countries (e.g., China) may be unable to provide official transcripts. In those rare cases, a copy of the diploma, with official English translation, if necessary, may be accepted. However, if the diploma does not indicate the field in which the doctorate is awarded (e.g., indicates only Doctor of Philosophy), then copies of transcripts or listings of courses, with official translation, are required. 
    2. Foreign education must be evaluated by an accredited organization to ensure that it is comparable to education received in the United States. ICs may wish to consult with the Division of International Services, ORS, and with OIR for preliminary advice on the equivalency of foreign degrees with U.S. doctorates. Simply because a degree is identified as a doctorate does not mean it is equivalent.
  5. References:
    1. A minimum of two references is required from professionals in the field, attesting to the candidate’s scientific qualifications, credentials, and accomplishments. Additional references may be required depending upon Office of Intramural Research (OIR) policies and the IPD proposed.

For information regarding appointment mechanisms, please visit:


Senior Research Fellow appointments are made via Title 42(g) and renewed in increments of one to five years, according to the 5/8 Year Duration Policy. The maximum length of the appointment may not exceed eight years – the duration is determined by the length of time spent at NIH in all fellowship capacities – unless the scientist is approved for a tenure-track or another staff NIH appointment.


A Senior Research Fellow is not granted independent resources by their Institute.


Senior Research Fellow appointments may be terminated before their expiration date for cause (e.g., personal or scientific misconduct), unsatisfactory performance, or administrative reasons, including but not limited to, programmatic changes and/or budgetary considerations. Terminations of a Senior Research Fellow must follow the policies and processes appropriate to the Title 42(g) appointment mechanism.

The page was last updated on Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 1:40pm