Marshall W. Nirenberg Fellowship

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has established the Marshall W. Nirenberg Postdoctoral Fellowship to provide rigorous post-graduate training in the biomedical sciences under the mentorship of  a Tenure Track Investigator in the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) at the NHLBI.  The Nirenberg Fellowship is designed to provide trainees with intense research training as well as opportunities for career development, including attendance at national and international meetings.  Trainees with the goal of an academic research career will be provided with mentored grant-writing experience and encouraged to apply for the NHLBI K22 Career Transition Award. These experiences will prepare trainees to advance their careers in basic, translational, and clinical research.


Dr. Marshall Nirenberg was an American biochemist and geneticist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 with Har Gobind Khorana and Robert W. Holley for breaking the genetic code and elucidating how it operates in protein synthesis. Dr. Nirenberg became the head of the Section of Biochemical Genetics in the National Heart Institute (now the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [NHLBI]) in 1962, and remained laboratory chief until his death.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Will have obtained a doctoral degree within 2 years of the initial appointment as a Nirenberg Fellow.
  2. Must have completed academic training in coursework relevant to biomedical research.

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

Please email completed application package to the NHLBI Office of Education at: with the subject: Nirenberg Application.

Questions about the application or selection process can be sent to:

Applications will be accepted and reviewed throughout the year. 

The Online Application Package requires the following for submission:

  • Curriculum vitae or resume, which includes:
    • Applicant's education and research experience and publications and oral presentations
    • List of honors, awards, and other special recognition
    • Names and contact information for three references; at least one from a research mentor
  • A cover letter outlining the applicant's career and research goals and interests and identifies one or more Tenure Track Investigators with whom they wish to work.
    • Tenure track investigators are listed below drop-down section.
    • Applicants are encouraged to contact potential mentors in advance of submitting an application.
  • One letter of recommendation from a mentor or supervisor, sent directly to from the writer.
    • Two additional letters may be requested at a later date.
  • Unofficial transcript(s).
    • Official transcript(s) may be requested at a later date. 

Selection Process

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

Individuals who have been selected to be interviewed will be invited to visit the NHLBI to meet with Program Staff and potential mentors. The applicant will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance into the program in a timely manner.

Training Assignment and Duration

After acceptance into the program, each Trainee will be placed in the laboratory of an NHLBI Tenure-Track mentor. The mentor will design a training plan tailored to the current scientific research of the program area and the needs of the trainee.

The Nirenberg fellowship is limited to five years under the Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) hiring mechanism.  Postdoctoral IRTAs are appointed for an initial period of 1 to 3 years.  Fellowships can be renewed in 1- to 2-year increments for a total of 5 years. The mentor and trainee will agree upon an acceptable start date.

Training Stipends

Trainees will receive an initial stipend at the maximum of the current standard postdoctoral stipend levels. See current standard stipend levels (based on years of renewal) at:  Trainees with degrees in the mathematical and quantitative sciences may be eligible for a supplement of $10,000.

Health Benefits

  • The NIH will pay for individual or family coverage available through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES). ​​​​​​​

Tenure Track Investigators
- Marshall W. Nirenberg Fellowship

Dr. Brian Glancy focuses on determining how mitochondria are optimized within muscle cells to help maintain energy homeostasis during the large change in energy demand caused by muscle contraction. He leads the Muscle Energetics Laboratory.

Dr. Susan T. Harbison focuses on her interest in complex traits—and the use of genomic technologies to study them. She leads the Systems Genetics Laboratory.

Dr. Haiming Cao seeks to understand the complex regulation of energy metabolism and uncover its significance in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease. He leads the Obesity and Metabolic Diseases Laboratory.

Dr. Tiffany Powell-Wiley focuses on the social determinants of obesity and obesity-related cardiovascular risk factors that contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease. She leads the Social Determinants of Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk Laboratory.

Dr. Christopher Hourigan focuses on three complementary approaches that are united by an overriding theme of performing translational human immunology research to find ways to detect, prevent and treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) relapse. He leads the Myeloid Malignancies Laboratory.

Dr. Andre Larochelle investigates novel strategies and stem cell concepts that can help advance the translational regenerative field, with a focus on inherited disorders affecting blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). He leads the Regenerative Therapies for Inherited Blood Disorders Laboratory.

Dr. Courtney Fitzhugh is exploring new avenues of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation for sickle cell disease. She leads the Early Sickle Mortality Prevention Laboratory.

Dr. Beth Kozel seeks to better understand the factors that influence vascular disease severity in patients with rare connective tissue disorders. She leads the Vascular and Matrix Genetics Laboratory.

Dr. Jiansen Jiang studies the structures and mechanisms of some important membrane proteins, such as solute carriers, that are linked to human disease or drug transport. The lab uses biochemistry, cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM), and other tools to attack the problems, while also working on method development to expand applications of cryoEM on life sciences research. He leads the Laboratory of Membrane Proteins and Structural Biology.

Dr. Sean Agbor-Enoh aims to develop novel approaches to detect and treat transplant rejection in order to improve transplant survival. He leads the Laboratory of Applied Precision Omics (APO). His lab is planning a clinical trial to assess whether early detection and treatment of rejection improves survival in lung transplant patients and also engaged in additional studies to understand molecular mechanisms of transplant rejection.

Dr. Takashi Akera leads the Laboratory of Chromosome Dynamics and Evolution, which uses mouse oocyte system to reveal both the cell biological basis and evolutionary consequences of meiotic drive, where selfish genetic elements violate Mendel’s Law of Segregation to increase their own rate of transmission.