Training Opportunities for Fellows and Students
The NIH Postdoctoral IRTA Program provides advanced training and research experience to physicians and Ph.D.-level scientists who are at the beginning stages of their professional research careers. To be eligible to apply for this program, candidates must hold a doctoral degree and have no more than five years of relevant research experience since receipt of their most recent doctoral degree.
NICHD has close to 175 postdoctoral and research fellows in its laboratories, who contribute to a rich and diverse research community, supported by intellectual exchanges in lab meetings, journal clubs, interest groups, and through activities for trainees across NICHD in support of fellows' professional development.
- Are you looking for an investigator in a particular field of research? Check out the most recent intramural annual report.
- Are you an international fellow? Be sure to check on immigration requirements and procedures. The NIH Division of International Services will support your investigator and administrative officer in facilitating your visa application process.
You can write to an investigator to inquire about anticipated vacancies. The annual reports list the trainees in our individual laboratories, so you can get a sense of the composition of each research group.
Some postdoctoral positions at NIH are listed at https://www.training.nih.gov/career_services/postdoc_jobs_nih.
Clinical Fellows/Graduate Medical Education
Clinical fellows are trained through accredited programs and through individual application to our clinical laboratories. Training at the bedside is conducted in the Clinical Research Center, our research hospital where all patients are participants in a formal NIH/NICHD clinical research study. This work attracts a very special population of children and adults from around the world to benefit from our medical research expertise. Our affiliate institutions in the Maryland/DC area also participate in the education of NICHD fellows.
Select a link to learn more about a specific program.
The fellowship program in Pediatric Endocrinology is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and offers 3 years of training. Each year, we accept two new fellows. Specialized training in Pediatric Endocrinology & Medical Genetics is also possible for qualified individuals. Contact the program for additional details.
The program in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at NICHD is a combined federal program, conducted together with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the National Naval Medical Center. It is a 3-year program accredited through the ACGME.
NICHD participates in an inter-institute training program in Endocrinology and Metabolism, together with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other NIH institutes. This internal medicine subspecialty is accredited by the ACGME and offers 3 years of training.
Graduate and Medical Students
Both graduate and medical students may spend time in our basic and clinical research laboratories. Medical students can join us for year-long experiences through formal NIH-wide training programs or through an independent arrangement with an investigator whose research is a good fit with their interests. Clinical and medical research electives are also possible, for four-week and longer rotations.
Graduate students have an opportunity to conduct their thesis research in one of the NICHD laboratories, assuming there is a good fit with one of our research programs, and an opening. Many graduate students participate in a formal program through the NIH intramural Graduate Partnerships Program, too. In addition, NICHD has formal affiliations with international universities, for graduate training.
- NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program
For more information, visit http://oxcam.gpp.nih.gov.
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Since 2003, graduate students from the Department of Biochemistry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have come to the laboratories of NICHD to conduct their thesis research.
A clinical elective rotation is a stimulating way to experience the research environment of the NIH Clinical Research Center, where all patients being cared for are part of a clinical trial or clinical research protocol. These rotations focus on learning, often about highly complex cases or so-called orphan diseases. Both medical students and residents are invited to participate in this program. Individualized research electives are also possible, in an area where you have a particular interest and background.
Postbaccalaureate Fellows and Summer Students
The Postbaccalaureate IRTA program is open to (1) individuals who have graduated from a fully accredited U.S. college or university no more than two years prior to the activation date of the award and intend to apply to graduate or medical school in biomedical research within the next year; and (2) students who have been accepted into graduate, doctoral, or medical degree programs and who have written permission from their school either to delay entrance for up to one year, or to interrupt their current schooling and to return within one year to their degree-granting program.
Each year, more than 50 students join the laboratories of intramural NICHD for one or two years of training experiences. The time spent working alongside mentors and members of their research teams allows you to have a full-time, in-depth research experience, to learn new techniques, to function as an active member of an investigative group, to formulate research questions and design experiments, and in some cases to publish your results.
Postbac fellows use this time not only to gain new experience and knowledge, but also to refine their decisions about their academic careers. Many fellows continue on to medical school, a good number pursue graduate studies in a wide range of disciplines from physics to biology to interdisciplinary programs. Still others pursue a combined degree such as the MD/PhD. The time in NICHD allows you the opportunity to reflect on your choices, to take the GRE or MCAT, to seek guidance from many role models, and also time to travel to interviews.
To complement the research experience in your particular labs, the NICHD Office of Education offers programs in support of your academic growth. Individual help writing your personal statement and secondary essays is provided. You can also rehearse questions in a mock interview before you go to a medical or graduate school interview.
Our postdoctoral fellows direct a course for postbacs each year, which starts with sessions on experimental design, keeping lab notebooks, and public speaking, then transitions into a critical analysis series where you learn to critique journal articles across a range of scientific topics, both basic and clinical.
We have two postbacs selected each year to represent NICHD in the development of NIH- wide activities, such as the annual poster day every May and workshops on how to prepare for the MCAT and the GRE. We also organize NICHD-specific social and educational activities, such as:
- Life as a Physician
- Application Process and Interviewing for Medical and Graduate School
- Speaking about Science
A good time to submit your application is between January and March of your senior year, if you are hoping to begin your fellowship over the summer. Students typically are selected in spring, during the summer, and sometimes in early fall. Our investigators review applications on a continuous basis. You are eligible to begin a postbac up to 36 months after you graduate from your bachelor's degree program.
When your application is complete and your reference letters are submitted, you should look closely at the research in specific laboratories to see which research programs are the closest fit with your own interests and experiences. Look at the most recent NICHD annual report to obtain details about the wide range of laboratories within our intramural programs. At that point, you can write to our investigators to see if they anticipate having an opening in their group. Apply Now!
Summer Internship Program
The Summer Internship Program at the NIH provides an opportunity to spend the summer working side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. Students 16 years of age or older who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are currently enrolled at least half-time in high school, an accredited U.S. college or university, or an accredited U.S. medical/dental school are eligible to apply.
Whatever your level of education, from high school to undergraduate to graduate school, you can benefit from a summer rotation in one of our intramural laboratories. Apply to SIP beginning mid-November at http://www.training.nih.gov/programs/sip
As always, it's best to apply early - before the end of January will allow the greatest number of investigators to view your application. Note that applications are reviewed, and selections are made, on a continuous basis. The individual investigator makes the decision about who to hire.