Postdoctoral Research Training at the NHLBI

Research Training

Research Training in the NHLBI intramural program is designed to prepare recent Ph.D. or M.D. graduates for permanent careers in Academics, Government or Industry. There are over 60 investigators at NHLBI, with research that spans the entire spectrum from basic biochemistry and molecular, cellular, developmental and structural biology, to translational, to purely clinical aspects of research. Areas of study include immunology, neuroscience, virology, biological imaging, systems biology and population-based studies.

Research training is offered in all centers and branches of the NHLBI Division of Intramural Research (DIR), and is also available in the NHLBI state-of-the-art core facilities devoted to proteomics, light microscopy, flow cytometry, sequencing, bioinformatics and transgenic animal production and characterization.

Clinical research training is available in the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch and the Hematology Branch as well as several specialized programs, including Cardiothoracic Surgery, Medical Imaging, and Sickle Cell Disease.  Search for NHLBI investigators and their recent publications

The DIR also supports state-of-the-art core facilities which are available to NHLBI fellows. These facilities include microscopy, both light and electron, deep sequencing, proteomics, and animal and surgery. More information on the cores is available on the Cores page.

You can apply directly in response to a particular opening on the web page at http://www2.training.nih.gov/apps/publicForms/postdoctoral/forms/adIndex.aspx or you can register your interest in a future postdoctoral fellowship at NHLBI by filling out a simple form and attaching your curriculum vita at
https://oed.nhlbi.nih.gov. In addition, you may write to any NHLBI investigator directly expressing your interest in a position at NHLBI.

Senior fellows can apply for NIH grants that enable them to stay at NIH for an addition two years and then have 3 years of NIH funding when they move on into an academic or institutional environment. All fellows with less than four years of postdoctoral experience can apply for NIH Transition to Independence (K99/R00) grants, while the NHLBI K22 grant requires recipients to be U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents  NHLBI fellows have been very competitive for these grants as shown on the Success Stories page.

Career Development Activities

Training at NHLBI is not just designed to provide the essentials of research, but recognizes that fellows need to acquire all the skills necessary for success, including skills in writing and presentation of research data, grant writing, and how to find the best position.

The NHLBI has an Office of Education specifically devoted to the career progress of fellows. An annual NHLBI DIR Scientific Retreat allows the scientific staff of NHLBI DIR to present their research data and meet other fellows and also highlights career development issues. Download File

The DIR Office of Education Fellows Advisory Committee assists the Office of Education in planning these programs. Fellows also gain mentoring and teaching experience by helping supervise the research of summer fellows and graduate students in NHLBI laboratories.

Fellows are encouraged to take courses at the NIH and involve themselves in patient care where appropriate. Courses available include computer courses and basic, advanced, and technical science courses in molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry, biostatistics, microbiology and clinical investigation. In addition, there are special programs and courses which provide skills for fellows in scientific leadership and career development. Support is provided for fellows to attend national and international meetings.

Fellows interested in non-bench research careers have the opportunity to do paid 3-6 month rotations with one of many different organizations in areas of Extramural Research, Technology Transfer, Science Policy, and Business Development.

International Fellows

NIH is an especially welcoming place for International Fellows. There are fellows from over 100 different countries at NIH, so you are not likely to be isolated. NIH offers free English language classes for Visiting Fellows whose English needs improvement. In addition, there are many different organizations on campus that offer support to International Fellows. Some are for fellows from a specific country. For example, Fellows from China, France or India have their own web sites.

There is a large Division of International Services that handles all the details related to visas for Visiting Fellows. If you would like more information about Visiting Fellows from your country, contact the NHLBI Office of Education.

Success Stories

Fellows at NHLBI have obtained positions in Academia, Industry, Government and Public Service, both in the US and in their home countries. Read NHLBI intramural research grant recipient Success Stories.

Stipends and Support

US Citizens and Permanent Residents are paid through the Intramural Research and Training Act ("IRTA Fellows") while foreign fellows are considered "Visiting Fellows." These fellowships are for a maximum of five years and include a competitive stipend and medical benefits.  More advanced applicants may be appointed to the title of “Research Fellow” which includes all Federal benefits.  Research Fellows may be appointed for no more than eight years.  

Through the Division of International Services, NIH offers visa assistance for foreign-trained applicants. The stipend levels are the same and are subject to yearly adjustment. Fellows with their own financial support from outside organizations are also welcome to apply. The Office of Education staff is available to assist applicants seeking outside or additional support.

Beginning NHLBI Fellows can apply for the Lenfant Fellowships in their first two years at NHLBI. These competitive fellowships are based on the NIH F32 NRSA application, and are reviewed for merit by an NHLBI extramural review panel. Recipients receive a 10% increase in stipend for the duration of their fellow's career at NHLBI.

The NHLBI Intramural Program is a participant in the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence grant program and the K22 Career Transition Award Program. These NIH grants are for exceptionally qualified fellows and provide support for up to 2 years of training in the intramural program of NHBLI followed by support for an additional three years as an independent researcher at an academic institution (not NIH). They are competitive grants that are evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened by the NHLBI. Eligibility for receipt of the K22 is restricted to U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents. The K99/R00 program is open to all NHLBI Fellows with less than 4 years of postdoctoral research experience.

How to Apply

Each laboratory at NHLBI fills their positions as vacancies occur. Thus, candidates are urged to contact NHLBI investigators directly to determine the likelihood of obtaining a position. View open positions at the NIH, including those at NHLBI.

Applications for Postdoctoral training in the NHLBI DIR can be submitted through the Postdoctoral Fellowship Application. Applications will be reviewed immediately. Important considerations will be the qualifications and interests of the applicant and the availability of resources.

Questions can be directed to researchers within the Institute or to:

Office of Education, Division of Intramural Research, NHLBI
50 Center Drive
Bldg. 50, Room 4139, MSC 1754
Bethesda, MD 20892-1754
Tel: 301-451-9440
Email: direducation@nhlbi.nih.gov