The NIAID Independent Scholars Program
Offering early career opportunities for creative, independent research at NIH
The NIAID Independent Scholars Program is designed to bring exceptionally talented young scientists to the NIAID intramural research program directly from their Ph.D. training to establish independent research programs within the framework of an existing NIAID laboratory. Scholars also receive mentoring from the senior members of an NIAID laboratory to help them develop into the next generation of leaders in immunology and infectious disease research.
The rationale for the Scholars Program lies in NIAID’s belief that exceptional, newly-minted Ph.D.s have the ability to carry out highly creative, cutting-edge, independent research when given a mentored environment. Moreover, NIAID believes that the current prolonged postdoctoral training period, which on average delays independence to the age of 40 or older, is a clear impediment to the success of a young researcher’s career. The NIAID Independent Scholars Program offers a direct and immediate path to independence.
The program offers recent Ph.D.s the following opportunities:
- Develop an independent research program within an NIAID laboratory with salary and research support directly from the Office of the NIAID Scientific Director.
- Focus on highly creative, cutting-edge research.
- Receive mentoring from senior colleagues in all aspects of heading an independent research group.
- Access the outstanding research resources and facilities at NIH.
- Acquire the skills necessary to compete for tenure-track positions.
How to Apply
Seeking the Best of the Best
The goal of the Independent Scholars Program is to develop the next generation of leaders in immunology and infectious disease research. The program seeks highly talented and motivated young Ph.D.s and offers them independent resources much earlier in their careers than they would receive in a conventional postdoctoral track.
Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students near the end of their training may apply; positions in the Scholars Program are contingent upon receiving a Ph.D.
Scholars will be selected on the basis of their accomplishments as a Ph.D. student, a five-page research plan, and three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s research, including the applicant’s thesis advisor.
The Scholars Program Board, which consists of distinguished NIAID scientists from diverse disciplines, accepts applications once a year. During the interview process applicants will identify an NIAID laboratory with which they will be associated if selected. Appointment requires the approval of the Scientific Director and the Chief of the sponsoring NIAID lab. The board anticipates the appointment of one to two scholars per year.
|Scanning electron microscopy of a Staphylococcus epidermidis cluster embedded in a exopolysaccharide matrix. Source: NIAID Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis.|
Scholars will be appointed initially for two years, with the option of renewal for up to five years. In rare cases, appointment can be extended beyond the fifth year under the NIH Five Year/Eight Year Duration Rule.
Scholars will earn a starting salary commensurate with the competitive nature of the position and the responsibility of developing a research program. They will receive independent resources and independent research space within an NIAID laboratory.
Making the Most of an NIAID Fellowship
While developing their research, scholars can anticipate ongoing, informal mentorship from their senior colleagues in areas such as speaking; paper and grant writing; recruiting, mentoring, and training students; managing a budget; and networking. Many career development opportunities are provided by the NIAID Office of Training and Diversity and the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education.
Scholars will undergo formal review once a year with a presentation to the Scholars Program Board members in an open Scholars Forum. Following their second year of appointment, scholars will present to the NIAID Board of Scientific Counselors, members of which are distinguished researchers from around the country.
NIAID and Beyond
The NIAID Scholars Program aims to provide young scientists the opportunity to establish independent research programs that will be recognized as having a significant impact in immunology or infectious disease.
At the end of their appointment, it is anticipated that Scholars will be highly competitive for tenure-track positions at top-tier research institutions across the country.
|Scanning electron micrograph of a CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cell isolated from a mouse spleen. Source: NIAID Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases.|
About the NIAID Intramural Research Community
NIAID is a premiere research institute, home to a vibrant research community of more than 110 principal investigators and their research groups of well over 1,000 students, fellows, and staff. NIAID scientists conduct basic, translational, and clinical research in a wide range of disciplines related to immunology, allergy, and infectious diseases. NIAID principal investigators are distinguished in their fields, with numerous recognition and awards, and include nine members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
For more than 50 years, the NIAID Division of Intramural Research has brought together exceptional scientists with interests in the molecular basis of normal immune responses and immune dysfunctions, including immunodeficiencies, allergy, and autoimmunity. The intramural program is also home to world-class research on a broad spectrum of infectious diseases and their causative agents, vectors, and pathogenesis, including AIDS, malaria, influenza, and tuberculosis. The intramural program supports a strong clinical research enterprise, allowing key lab discoveries to be rapidly translated into methods to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease.
The atmosphere within NIAID is one of collegiality, open exchange of ideas, and productive collaboration. Research facilities are exceptional, providing researchers with access to state-of-the-art instrumentation in imaging, proteomics, genomics, structural biology, and cell analysis, as well as animal genetics. Taken together, the NIAID Division of Intramural Research is truly a unique and exceptional research environment.
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