The NIH Postbac IRTA program (CRTA, Cancer Research Training Award, in the National Cancer Institute) provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional (medical/dental/pharmacy/nursing/veterinary, etc.) school an opportunity to spend one or two years performing full-time research at the NIH. Postbac IRTAs/CRTAs work side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1100 laboratories/research projects, located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD and the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Detroit, MI.
You can identify NIH investigators with projects that interest you by searching the NIH Intramural Annual Reports. Use the text search feature to find project descriptions that contain the key words you enter. Alternatively, the Intramural Research Program Web page presents investigators sorted by research topic. You can then find contact information for the investigators in the NIH Enterprise Directory.
Each postbac has a scientific “home” in the NIH Institute or Center (IC) of his/her principal investigator (PI). The IC manages all of the administrative details of the postbac appointment and the IC training office provides a variety of scientific and career enrichment activities. The NIH-wide Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) sponsors a wide range of career and professional development activities for postbacs, including skills workshops on topics such as oral and poster presentations and improving mentoring relationships; workshops on getting to graduate school and getting to professional school; career exploration sessions; a Graduate & Professional School Fair; and Postbac Poster Day. The NIH provides a wealth of additional scientific seminars.
The Postbac IRTA/CRTA Program is for individuals who meet any ONE of the following criteria:
- college graduates who received their bachelor’s degrees less than THREE years prior to the date they begin the program,
- individuals who are more than 3 years past the receipt of their bachelor’s degree but received a master’s degree less than SIX MONTHS before they begin the program, OR
- students who have been accepted into graduate, other doctoral, or medical school programs and who have written permission from their school to delay entrance for up to one year to pursue a biomedical research project at the NIH.
To be eligible, candidates must also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. In addition, they must intend to apply to graduate or professional school during their tenure at the NIH.