Training Experiences at NIH


Remember that our report on the Biomedical Research Workforce indicated that about 6% of US-trained biomedical PhDs end up in government research? Well, most of those talented individuals are here at NIH conducting research across the full gamut of disciplines. But did you know that NIH also is a dynamic training environment for the next generation of biomedical researchers? I know many of you have made a stop at NIH somewhere along your career path and share your experiences with each other, but I also want to offer up a description of some of the NIH intramural program’s training opportunities so that others may consider spending a bit of time here in Bethesda, in what will be an extremely valuable experience.

The Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) coordinates training across NIH and runs several programs for shorter-term appointments at the early stages of scientific training. One of these is the NIH Summer Internship Program which gives researchers at many levels — including high school, undergraduate, graduate and professional school students — an opportunity to spend a summer gaining research experience in biomedical, social science, behavioral, and computational fields. Undergraduates looking to develop additional research skills during a gap year (or two) should check out the NIH Postbac Program as well as NIH Academy, a supplement to the NIH postbac program focused on health disparities. In addition, community college students can participate in the summer internship program through a special track —  the NIH Community College Summer Enrichment Program.

Many of these programs are accepting applications now or will begin accepting applications in early in January, so check out the program pages for more information.

For those looking for a postdoc position, openings are not only advertised online, but the intramural program training office also provides tips on how to use the intramural researcher database and identify and approach potential mentors.

If training on NIH’s campuses isn’t right for you right now, you can still intramural career resources. The intramural program has opened many of its career information resources to extramural trainees, available online, and you can also engage in active discussion on their LinkedIn group which is open to extramural trainees as well.

Whether these training experiences lead to a career in government research, academia or industry, NIH offers unique training experiences. So when thinking of you or your trainee’s next great research adventure, think NIH!


  1. Dr. Rockey,

    Does the NIH evaluate the career outcomes of those who train at the NIH? In particular does the NIH monitor the career outcomes of the postdoctoral scientists/trainees/fellows who are/were part of the NIH intramural training program? I am curious how effective the intramural NIH training programs are as compared to a typical large R1 level institute. I am also wondering if the distribution and types of permanent positions held after training differ between those who were part of intramural versus extramural research programs. Lastly, since the NIH has been collecting data on the career outcomes from those trained on T32 training grants over the last few decades, could the NIH release this data, and perhaps use it for a comparison to the training outcomes of the intramural training programs? It would be nice to know whether the NIH established intramural and extramural training programs are actually effective. Perhaps the best comparison would be to the career outcomes of those who were not on NIH T32 training grants or part of the intramural training programs (ie postdocs funded through their PIs RO1 grants).

    1. Trainees in the NIH intramural program come from around the world, while trainees supported on NIH training awards are required by law to be US citizens or permanent residents. Because of this major difference, the two programs have not been compared. The NIH Office of Intramural Research is the place to get information on intramural trainees. See NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education or contact

      My office has published reports on extramural training program outcomes (see “The Early Career Progress of NRSA Predoctoral Trainees and Fellows” and “Career Achievements of NRSA Postdoctoral Trainees and Fellows: 1975–2004”, on OER’s extramural training website, and NIH grant activity of extramural trainees and fellows compared to other Ph.D. Recipients is updated yearly in the NIH Data Book.

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