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 Staff Scientists and Clinicians

  Staff Clinicians and Scientists Information Banner  
Provided by The Steering Committee of The NIMH Organization of Staff Clinicians/Staff Scientists
"People who do the work of staff scientist have been an important force behind successful research at NIH since the very beginning"

-Staff Scientists: Defining a Valuable Resource,
NIH Catalyst,4(2),1996
Who is a Staff Scientist?
       A Staff Scientist is an Intramural scientist selected by his/her Institute or Center to support the long-term research of a Senior Investigator. Only Senior Investigators with outstanding Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) reviews can be assigned a Staff Scientist. Generally, the Staff Scientist is considered a key resource for the success of the Laboratory or Branch.

       The Office of Intramural Research (OIR) Sourcebook provides information on appointment, review, and promotion of staff scientists at NIH. Although several different hiring mechanisms have been used for Staff Scientists in the past, most are hired on a term-limited, renewable appointment (Title 42).
Who is a Staff Clinician?
      The Staff Clinician is an NIH physician or dentist who spends a majority of his/her time providing critical patient care services, and may also be the principal investigator on clinical protocols under the supervision of a Senior Investigator.
       The Office of Intramural Research (OIR) Sourcebook provides information on appointment, review, and promotion of staff clinicians at NIH. Like the Staff Scientist, a Staff Clinician is usually hired on a time-limited, renewable appointment (Title 42). In some circumstances the position can be made permanent.
How do these positions differ from those of tenured or tenure-track investigators?
      The Staff Scientist/ Staff Clinician does not have independent resources. However, these specialists often work independently and have sophisticated skills and knowledge essential to the work of the laboratory.
What appointment mechanism is used for Staff Clinicians and Staff Scientists?
       The appointment mechanism for Staff Scientists and Staff Clinicians is now Title 42, a time-limited, renewable contract. By exception Staff Scientists/Clinicians may be permanent Title 5 (the traditional government service (GS) employee position) or Commissioned Corps appointments. The conditions on an appointment are often listed in a memo to the scientist or clinician from the Scientific Director. NIH has provided an example memo as an aid for the Scientific Director.
How is Pay Determined?
Starting pay at time of appointment       Setting of Base and supplemental pay depends on the appointment mechanism. For Title 42 appointments, the salary level is negotiated between the employee and a representative from the Intramural Office of the Scientific Director (SD). The constraints of Title 42 salaries are not nearly as regimented as traditional GS (Title 5) salaries. With fewer limitations on exact salary values, there is more flexibility in choosing an appropriate salary level. On the other hand, the Intramural program may be under constraints passed down from NIMH, NIH, or even HHS.
      The starting pay at time of appointment depends on the qualifications of the individual as well as the employment market forces.

      The NIMH Intramural SD office has provided data on the distribution of Staff Clinicians and Staff Scientists in our Institute in 2001.

      The Clinical Center Office of Human Resources Management (CC-OHRM) and NIH in general provide helpful documents on their web sites:

      Starting salary considerations
      Stipend increases
      Bonuses and Awards
      Check sheet of required materials for Staff Scientist appointment
      Fellowship Program Stipend Ranges

Appointment Renewals
       Title 42 Staff Scientist appointments and renewals are typically timed to coincide with Board of Scientific Counselor (BSC) reviews of the Laboratory or Branch. In principle, the results of these reviews determine the amount and type of resources that will be provided to the reviewed Laboratory or Branch. When the BSC and Scientific Director agree that the Laboratory or Branch continues to be productive, and that the Staff Scientist continues to be an important component to that productivity, the Staff Scientist�s appointment is likely to be renewed. In the NIMH IRP, a committee selected by the Scientific Director makes the final decision.

      In year 2002 meetings between the Scientific Director and the Staff Clinicians/Staff Scientist as a group, the SD emphasized that the Institute would rather keep a Staff Clinician or Staff Scientist in the Institute even if a Laboratory or Branch was required to relinquish the services of that Clinician or Scientist. The NIMH Intramural Program considers them an important resource and pledges to renew appointments whenever possible.

      It is clear that the Staff Clinician or Staff Scientist should strive to understand the BSC review process and how it impacts resource assignment.
Performance Reviews
      NIH has been developing guidance papers for the appointment and review of Staff Scientists, but the review process is still under discussion within the NIH. The discussions often concern performance evaluations and how these evaluations should impact salary.
Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) Review Process
       Every tenured and tenure-track investigator is periodically reviewed by the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC). The BSCs are constituted of scientists from outside NIH who themselves have outstanding scientific credentials and who are committed to providing rigorous, objective reviews. BSCs were established to assist the Scientific Directors in evaluating the quality of the intramural research programs for which they are responsible.

      NIH Manual Chapter 3005 establishes policy governing BSC reviews. Although staff scientists and staff clinicians do not present their work directly for NIMH BSC review, their work is reviewed along with that of the senior tenured investigator by whom they are supported.
For Further Information
      The Steering Committee of The NIMH Organization of Staff Clinicians/Staff Scientists is a small group of Staff Clinicians / Staff Scientists that have volunteered to author this web site and help address issues and� questions in the Institute that may be of importance to Staff Clinicians/Staff Scientists as a group.� The Committee would be happy to hear suggestions, questions, or other relevant correspondence.� Please contact the group by sending email to
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This page was last updated January 13, 2009

 The Division of Intramural Research Programs is within the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a part the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.