Working the NIH Part 5 – Training Mechanisms (at least 1 of 2)

The information on the NIH website about training mechanisms is as detailed, complex and confusing as all the rest of the information on the NIH website. One caveat, and why I am trying to be meticulous about adding links: there are lots and lots of links to old, and out of date stuff that you can get through google. NIH, afaik, keeps all of its expired information up. It’s not just the wayback machine, its NIH.

There are both intramural and extramural (in house and out house, so to speak) training programs. Intramural are the programs at the NIH campus in Bethesda, and usually involve working a specific NIH researcher. I’m going to skip over those for now, but if there is interest, I’ll post something on those.

Most of what we the peeps are interested in are the extramural training programs. Caveat here: these are funds explicitly designated for training. People are also trainees on the R-series grants working under a funded big dog. This is a source of some controversy, because it makes grants expensive (to cover salary for postdocs, tuition for phd students) and it puts more trainees into the system. But again, that’s not the topic of this post.

The primary current page for training, from the Office of Extramural research, also has a link to intramural funding, as well as a link to career resources which has a number of links to outside info for postdocs, including the National Postdoctoral Association, NSF and various pages with resources at particular institutions.

From the training page, you can get to the extramural training page, which shows the three primary and large categories of funding opportunities for trainees from the NIH. These awards, jointly referred to as “NRSA” or National Research Service Awards,  are the T-awards, which are institutional; the F-awards, which are fellowships, and the K-awards, which are named after Ruth Kirschstein who was a pretty damn impressive woman.  For each of these awards NIH has a “kiosk” which talks about the different types of each award, which are indicated with numbers. The kiosk links are:

Starting with T awards, cause they are easiest in this setting: T awards are to institutions. I’ve been the co-director of one and on others, and I think they have the worst ratio of $$/pages submitted. They are huge, and money is small, and they are not for individuals. If your institution has one, they are great to be on, since as a trainee, you don’t have to write anything. Drawbacks: you must at least hold a green card, or be a citizen, and you do sign a payback agreement. No all IC’s have these, the T page indicates which do. They are mostly T32’s, but there are a few other numbers/mechanisms, T34, T35, T36 for other types of training – short term, undergraduate, etc that are specific to one or two IC’s. In general, if you don’t know about T awards, you’re not going to be submitting one. My IC suggests that they need to include at least 5, preferably 8-9 R01 funded senior PI’s.

Time it flieth, thats all for now… 2nd part, F & K’s by monday morning.








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