Based on the minutes from an SD meeting on April 19, 2006
Dr. Major reported on recommendations developed by a committee consisting of Drs. Richard Cannon, William Gahl, Marvin Gershengorn, Eric Green, George Kunos, Fred Ognibene, John O'Shea, and Carter Van Waes. He provided copies of the policies already in place in NHGRI, NIAAA and NINDS. The committee supported the idea that NIH senior investigators should be able to take a sabbatical on a periodic basis (every 6-7 years) to gain new technical and professional experiences. Such a sabbatical could last 3-12 months, and would generally be outside the NIH, although on occasions the PI might choose to do it in another IC. Sabbaticals at 'for profit' companies would be more difficult and should be considered 'training' exercises. The committee also supported the idea that extramural investigators, who have an intramural collaborator, could come to the NIH and receive partial salary and research support - multiple mechanisms exist for arranging this. The committee recommended that each IC should establish its own written policy, and that such a policy should include a requirement for submission of a 3-4 page written proposal that would be reviewed by the SD in consultation with colleagues. They also presented a proposal for a 'Clinical Partnership Fellow', as part of a bilateral partnership with a university modeled on the Graduate Partnership Program. Finally they recommended that OER be involved in discussions to facilitate the ability of extramural clinical investigators to do sabbaticals at the Clinical Center.
Points to Consider Regarding Sabbaticals for Intramural Scientists (to be adapted, or not, as appropriate to individual ICs)
- A sabbatical provides an opportunity for scientists and physicians in the intramural program to enhance their professional skills and research programs through independent or collaborative research at domestic or foreign educational or research institutions. In general it will extend to tenured senior investigators. The goal is to enhance professional skills and research. Scientists would be eligible at most once every six years, and the sabbatical could last for 3-12 months.
- IC support could include salary as well as transportation and a housing and per diem allowance at the sabbatical location. The Travel Policy Branch of the Office of Financial Management should be consulted so there is a full and complete understanding of what the Federal Travel Regulations allow as these allowances are different from a traveler’s entitlements while on TDY travel.
- Interested scientists would apply by submitting a 3-4 page written proposal that outlines the project to be undertaken, the rationale for selection of the site and sponsor, and the benefits to their professional development, as well as a curriculum vitae and bibliography.
- The proposal will be reviewed, by a panel established by that IC, on the basis of: (1) Perceived potential for professional growth and career development; (2) Scientific merit and/or promise of applicant's proposal, including the appropriateness of the designated academic institution or research facility in providing an environment suitable for the proposed study or research; and (3) Scientific accomplishments as assessed by publications and honors including service on grant review groups and editorial boards.
- Sabbaticals for Federal employees, regardless of appointment mechanism (e.g., Title 5, Title 42, etc.), require additional approval beyond the IC Director level. Once the IC Director has approved a sabbatical, the package is routed through the OHR Compensation and Policy Division (CPD) for approval by the NIH Director and HHS Secretary (where applicable). Sabbaticals to foreign institutions also require Department of State approval and the process can sometimes take several months. CPD should be consulted with early in the process and can be reached on 301-496-0377.
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