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Researchers

Biomedical Research Training Program for Individuals
from Underrepresented Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health

Office of the Director
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Revised: September 2014

Introduction
Overview
Training Program Description
Types of Training Assignments
Eligibility Requirements
Application Process (Online Application)
Contact Information
Websites of interest
Selection Process
Training Assignment and Duration
Training Stipends
Deductions
Health Benefits
Types of Leave
Travel
Training

Introductionback to top

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has established a Biomedical Research Training Program for Individuals from Underrepresented Groups (BRTPUG) that offers opportunities for underrepresented post baccalaureate individuals to receive training in basic, translational, and clinical research. Individuals must have a specific intention to further pursue an advanced degree after training.

The purpose of BRTPUG is to enhance career opportunities in biomedical sciences for post baccalaureate individuals, from health disparity groups, who are planning to apply to graduate or professional (medical/dental/veterinary/pharmacy) school with a career goal of becoming a doctorally-trained scientist or physician-scientist. The NIH is particularly interested in encouraging the recruitment and retention of the following classes of candidates: (A) Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis. The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be convincingly demonstrated to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program. (B) Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. (C) Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who are defined as: (1) Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. (2) Individuals who come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career. Recruitment and retention of individuals from a disadvantaged background are most applicable to high school and perhaps undergraduate candidates, but would be more difficult to justify for individuals beyond that level of achievement. The Program supports individuals that will pursue basic science, clinical, biomedical or behavioral health research careers including clinical and laboratory medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics as applied to the etiology and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders. Increasing diversity in the future research workforce may contribute ultimately to the elimination of health disparities in cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders in the U.S.

Overviewback to top

The NHLBI provides leadership for a national program of research in diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung, and blood, and in the uses and management of blood resources and sleep disorders. The NHLBI plans, conducts, fosters, and supports an integrated and coordinated program of research.

Two divisions of the Institute are involved in the BRTPUG program: the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) and the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences - Prevention and Population Sciences Program (DCVS-PPSP). Research experiences available to students include the following:

  • basic research on normal and abnormal cellular behavior at the molecular level,
  • clinical research on the normal and abnormal pathophysiologic functioning of the heart, lungs, and blood and in genetic studies of inherited diseases of these systems,
  • translational research on the development of community-based interventions targeting social determinants of cardiovascular risk and obesity, and
  • training in epidemiology, clinical trials, and biostatistics relating to the prevalence, etiology, prevention, and treatment of heart, vascular, pulmonary, and blood diseases.

Training Program Descriptionback to top

The BRTPUG offers each participant the opportunity to work closely with leading research scientists in NHLBI laboratories and offices. The program is designed to provide trainees with hands-on training in a research environment and an opportunity to present their scientific research at national meetings. These research training experiences will prepare students to continue their studies and advance their career in clinical and basic research. .

Types of Training Assignmentsback to top

  • The Division of Intramural Research (DIR): Research training is offered in all of the labs and branches of the Division of Intramural Research, and is also available in the NHLBI core facilities devoted to proteomics, genomics, flow cytometry, stem cells, light microscopy, electron microscopy and bioinformatics.

Clinical research training is available in the:

    • Hematology Branch
    • Cardio-Pulmonary Branch

Basic Science research training is available in the:

    • Genetics and Developmental Biology Center,
    • Immunology Center,
    • Molecular Medicine Center,
    • Systems Biology Center,
    • Cell Biology and Physiology Center, and
    • Biochemistry and Biophysics Center

Projects can encompass basic, translational, and clinical aspects of research. The research activities for the training assignments may include:

    • the mechanisms of gene regulation,
    • retroviral-mediated gene transfer and gene therapy,
    • molecular basis of lung diseases and design of new therapeutic modalities,
    • biochemistry and biophysics of contractile proteins and cytoskeletal dynamics,
    • molecular and cellular processes for the conversion of metabolic energy into useful work,
    • molecular basis of transmembrane signaling,
    • pathophysiology of renal function at the cellular and molecular levels,
    • biochemistry of trace nutrients,
    • enzyme kinetics, metabolic regulation, and protein chemistry,
    • computational approaches to biological and chemical questions,
    • developmental biology,
    • systems biology,
    • molecular immunology and cytokines,
    • imaging technologies for visualizing organ and cellular function, and
    • development of community-based interventions targeting social determinants of cardiovascular risk and obesity.
  • The Division of Cardiovascular Sciences - Prevention and Population Sciences Program (DCVS-PPSP) will provide training in the basic principles of design, implementation, and analysis of epidemiology studies and clinical trials.

    The training will include concepts of epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioral sciences, and prevention and outcome cardiovascular research as well as the practical application of these methods to population research.

    The Division conducts the major cardiovascular epidemiology studies in the U.S. including the Framingham Study image of external icon the Jackson Heart Study image of external icon the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos image of external icon , and conducts critical large randomized clinical trials in both treatment and prevention of heart, lung, and blood diseases.

    The trainee will have the opportunity to work with the Institute staff directing these studies, and to assist in evaluation of research questions posed by these studies.

    Illustrative areas of research activities addressed by these studies are extensive and include, for example:
    • role of genetics in the development of coronary heart disease,
    • prevention and treatment of obesity,
    • development and evaluation of culturally valid psychosocial test instruments of examining the relationship between health and behavior in populations,
    • evaluation of medication use for blood pressure and the variability of use in populations,
    • prevalence of and risk factors for coronary disease in Hispanics/Latinos, and
    • identification of key socioeconomic factors related to risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

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Eligibility Requirements

Students must meet the following criteria:

1.    have recently completed or will complete a bachelor's degree by the summer of selection,

2.    must have completed academic training in course work relevant to biomedical, behavioral or statistical research,

3.    have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or better on a 4.0 scale, or 4.3 or better on a 5.0 scale, and

4.    be U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

An official transcript will be required if individual is selected for an interview.    

Applicants will not be excluded from consideration or evaluation on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor.  

Application Process
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The complete application package must be submitted online through the Online Application portal including three letters of reference by January 15. The NHLBI strongly encourages early submission of applications.

The Online Application Package requires the following for submission:

  • curriculum vitae or resume
  • a list of coursework and grades
  • applicant's research experience, career goals, and interests
  • a list of honors, awards, and other special recognition
  • the names and contact information for three references at least one must be from a research mentor
  • transcript may be requested at a later date

For Post-Baccalaureate individuals, research internships begin in June-September of the selection year.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the following office:

Dr. Helena O. Mishoe
Associate Director for Research Training and Diversity
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
6701 Rockledge Drive, Suite 9180, MSC 7913
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7913
Telephone: 301-451-5081
Email: mishoeh@nhlbi.nih.gov

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Websites of interest 

Division of Intramural Research: (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/research/intramural/index.html)
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences - Prevention and Population Sciences Program: (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/org/dcvs/index.htm)
NHLBI Training and Career Development:  (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/research/training/index.htm)

Selection Process

Application packages will be reviewed by NHLBI scientists. Candidates will be selected for interviews based on their academic achievement, training, research goals and interests, and letters of recommendation.

The number of trainees selected for any one training period may vary due to the availability of funds and mentors.

Individuals who have been selected to be interviewed will be invited to Bethesda, Maryland to visit the NHLBI at the National Institutes of Health. The applicant will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance into the program in a timely manner.

Training Assignment and Duration

One to two year Post Baccalaureate opportunities are available. Post Baccalaureate opportunities begin from June through September of the selection year. The mentor and trainee will agree upon an acceptable start date. All training sites are located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Regarding the trainee's appointment, a one to a two year period beginning the summer of selection is encouraged for a post baccalaureate individual. To satisfy the appointment, individuals are required to complete their training assignments during consecutive years. A second summer or year of funding may be available with both mentor and trainee concurrence.

An NHLBI mentor will be appointed for each trainee. The mentor is responsible for designing a training program plan tailored to the current scientific research of the program area and the needs of the trainee. The training plan must be approved by the assigned Laboratory/Branch Chief.

Training Stipends

Trainees will receive a stipend that is prorated according to the time period the trainee is actually on-site. Stipends are based on student's academic classification beginning the next semester.

The initial stipend check will be issued at the beginning of the first month of training for the time period worked in the previous month. To ensure timely receipt of stipends, trainees must participate in the direct deposit program.

Current Stipend Scale

        Post Baccalaureate: See  "PostBaccalaureate IRTA Stipend Levels" pdf file

Deductions

Since the NHLBI BRTPUG stipends are considered awards for training, the following restrictions are applied to the stipends:

  • Social Security and Medicare payments are not deducted.
  • Federal, state and local income taxes are not withheld. However, the stipends are subject to Federal and State taxes as well as local taxes, where applicable. Trainees should consult with the Internal Revenue Service and/or their tax representatives for instructions and additional information.
  • Federal retirement is not applicable.

Health Benefits

Health insurance is required for all BRTPUG trainees. The NIH will pay for low-option individual or family coverage available through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES). If you wish to subscribe to an FAES policy with more extensive coverage than that provided by the NIH, you will be required to pay the difference in cost. If you are already insured on another policy, you will be allowed to remain on that policy if you provide evidence of coverage. If the policy is in your name, and you can demonstrate that you are the individual who makes the premium payments, you will be reimbursed by the amount the NIH would have paid for FAES coverage.

Types of Leave

The BRTPUG trainees are not employees of the NHLBI, therefore, they do not earn annual and sick leave, but are excused on all Federal holidays. Mentors may, at their discretion, excuse trainees from their training assignments for reasonable causes such as ill health, emergencies, and personal business. Mentors may grant excused absences for a reasonable period, not to exceed 13 days per training year.

Travel

During training assignments, trainees will be eligible for the following specific travel allowances:

  • Interview Process: Travel and lodging will be arranged and paid by the NHLBI BRTPUG Program for candidates invited for interviews.
  • Training Period: NHLBI will pay for two round-trip fares (at the beginning of the fellowship and end) per year to Bethesda, Maryland, from the trainee's actual residence.
  • Scientific Meetings: The request for BRTPUG program support to attend a scientific meeting(s) will be made by the mentor and Laboratory/Branch Chief to the Extramural BRTPUG Director. If approved, the NHLBI DIR will submit travel requests in accordance with the established Laboratory/Branch procedures. All scientific meetings must be related to the mission of the NHLBI and/or directly related to the BRTPUG training program in order to be sponsored by the NHLBI.

Training

During on-site training assignments and at the discretion of the Director, BRTPUG, mentor and Laboratory/Branch Chief, trainees may generally receive up to $850 per year for training courses. The training generally takes place at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences image of external icon at the NIH or local academic institutions. Support for special training opportunities may be considered on an as needed basis.
 

Training opportunities supported by the BRTPUG Program should be:

1.   directly related to the purpose of the BRTPUG, and

2.    approved by the Extramural BRTPUG Director, trainee’s mentor and Administrative Officer well in advance of the date of the training course.

The government-sponsored training assistance is available only to those trainees who have activated their fellowship and are currently working on-site at NIH.



The Biomedical Research Training Program for Individuals from Underrepresented Groups (BRTPUG) is authorized by the Public Health Service Act as amended by the 1993 NIH Revitalization Act, which authorizes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to conduct appropriate intramural training and education programs, including continuing education, and laboratory and clinical research training programs. The BRTPUG is implemented by 42 CFR, Part 61, Subpart A, for fellowships at the National Institutes of Health for training in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of public health significance, including heart, lung, and blood diseases. The primary use of the information provided in this application will be to determine your eligibility for this program and for statistical tracking purposes. Disclosures will be made to Institute intramural and extramural staff who have a need to know in order to determine your eligibility to participate in the program. Completing this application is voluntary, however, failure to do so may result in not being considered for selection.  

Discrimination Prohibited: Under provisions of applicable public laws enacted by Congress since 1964, no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, handicap, or age, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity (or, on the basis of sex, with respect to any education program or activity) receiving Federal financial assistance. In addition, Executive Order 11141 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age by contractors and subcontractors in the performance of Federal contracts, Executive Order 11246 states that no federally funded contractor may discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and Executive Order 13087 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Therefore, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute must be operated in compliance with these laws and Executive Orders.

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Last Updated September 2014

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