Where can I find general information about the NIH Postdoc Program?
Where can I find information about the NIDA Intramural Research Program?
Where is the NIDA Intramural Research Program located?
NIDA IRP is located in southeast Baltimore on the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus. Most of the NIDA labs are housed in the Biomedical Research Center (BRC). A few labs are located in the Triad Building, a 5-10 minute walk across campus from the BRC.
What are some neighborhoods close to the Bayview campus?
Neighborhoods in order of closeness to the campus are Bayview, Highlandtown, Brewer’s Hill, Patterson Park, Butcher’s Hill, Canton, and Fells Point. You should ask your PI and lab members for housing recommendations and do some research on the various neighborhoods. A visit to Baltimore before starting can help you make an informed decision.
How do NIH postdoc salaries compare with those at universities?
They are very comparable. Most universities use the NRSA F32 postdoctoral grant paylines as their guide. In 2019, the starting stipend for NRSA recipients is $50,004 and for NIH is $49,550.
Are NIH postdocs able to travel to conferences?
At NIDA, each PI has a travel budget that he or she divides among the trainees in the lab. Generally, postdocs travel to one or two major domestic or international conferences each year. Postdocs can also apply for travel awards from scientific organizations. Additionally, each year, postdocs can submit an abstract for an NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE). If the abstract is accepted, the FARE winner receives $1500 for travel to a conference.
What opportunities exist for NIH postdocs to apply for grants?
Postdocs are eligible to apply for the NIH K99-R00 award, PRAT (Postdoctoral Research Associate Training) Program, and the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. There are also private foundation grants specific to certain research areas, such as the NIH Center for Compulsive Behavior Fellowship or home institutions/nations, such as the NIDA Inserm Fellowship. Each year, we offer a Grants Overview seminar and a workshop focused on the K99-R00.
How easy is it for postdocs to collaborate with institutions outside of NIH?
If the postdoc’s PI is collaborating with an extramural university, then it’s possible for the postdoc to get involved in the collaboration. Postdocs can also initiate a collaboration with an extramural university with their PI’s approval.
What opportunities exist for postdocs to get additional scientific training while at NIH?
Nearly all NIDA PIs collaborate with other PIs on research projects. Within those collaborations, postdocs can get training outside their scientific expertise. Additionally, we have 5 Core Programs that offer opportunities for additional training: the electron microscopy core, the ex vivo electrophysiology core, the genetic engineering and viral vector core, the histology core, and the structural biology core.
What career development opportunities are there at NIDA?
The NIDA Office of Education and Career Developments plans each year a full schedule of career development events, including academic and nonacademic job search and interviewing strategies, a 5-part series on workplace dynamics, a 3-week course on mentoring, an overview of the grant process, a workshop on the K99-R00 grant, and an all-day career symposium on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.
Are there opportunities at NIDA to learn about careers outside of academia?
We have an Exploring Careers Lecture Series, where nonacademic scientists discuss their career path and answer questions. Speakers have discussed careers in biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry, science policy, data science, consulting, science writing, management, teaching, and journal editing, among others.
Are there opportunities at NIDA to practice communication skills?
Most labs at NIDA hold weekly lab meetings or journal clubs, at which postdocs report on their research progress or review a paper. We have a weekly Fellows Research Lunch, where each week two postdocs give a 20-minute presentation on their research. There is also a monthly lecture series called Science for Nonscientists at which postdocs can present. Postdocs can present a poster at the annual NIDA Poster Day, and FARE award winners give oral presentations at the annual Baltimore Fellows Symposium (mentioned in more detail below). The annual Women in Science Award is also an opportunity for an outstanding woman postdoc to present her work and be recognized for her achievements.
Are there opportunities at NIDA to develop leadership skills?
The 5-part Workplace Dynamics series of workshops focus on leadership skills. At NIDA, we have a Postdoc Advisory Board that meets monthly to plan activities and make decisions. There are numerous opportunities to take a leadership role in postdoc events. One example is the Baltimore Fellows Symposium held each fall, featuring research presentations, Skill Blitzes, representatives from local colleges recruiting for teaching positions, and a keynote speaker. There are also opportunities to exercise leadership skills in various community service organizations.
Are there opportunities at NIDA to develop mentoring and teaching skills?
Each year, there is a 3-week course on Approaches to Mentoring, in which participants write a personal mentoring philosophy, practice giving and receiving feedback, and discuss the importance of communication and expectations through role-playing scenarios. There is also a workshop on mentoring a summer student. Opportunities exist for mentoring postbaccalaureate students and summer interns. Some postdocs teach full courses or give guest lectures at local colleges and universities. Additionally, one of the NIDA mentoring awards is given each year to a postdoc who has served as an exceptional mentor for trainees.
Are there other benefits of being a postdoc at NIDA?
There is a gym located in our building; members pay a small monthly fee. We have yoga classes and a weekly series called Wellness Wednesdays that is focused on enhancing wellness and self-care. Classes differ each week and include experiential activities such as meditation, progressive relaxation, breathing, or seated yoga. At NIDA, we currently have two affinity groups, LGBTQ+ and SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science). Through the NIH campus in the Bethesda there are additional affinity groups, including the NIH SACNAS Chapter, Mom-Dad-Docs, Network of African-American Fellows at the NIH, and NIH-LGBT – Fellows and Friends. You are welcome to join any of these groups.
Are taxes taken out of my stipend?
No, your stipend is considered a fellowship, not a salary. This means that you will need to pay quarterly taxes. Information about taxes can be found in the NIH Postdoc Handbook.
Can I defer my student loans while I’m a postdoc?
Yes, information about the loan deferment program can be found here.
Will I receive health insurance as a postdoc?
Yes, you will receive health benefits at no cost to you. NIH will pay for low-option individual or family coverage available through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES). You have 30 days after you start to elect or decline this insurance. Your lab’s administrative assistant will assist you with this decision.
What visa documentation is required for non-citizens?
Postdocs who are neither U.S. citizens nor Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) receive their fellowships under the auspices of the NIH Visiting Program. Visiting Fellows receive non-immigrant visa assistance and clearance to work at NIH from the NIH Division of International Services (DIS). Current Visiting Fellows sponsored by the NIH should contact DIS directly (firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-496-6166) for guidance or help with any immigration-related questions. Prospective Visiting Fellows who plan to join NIDA should first contact their host laboratory at the IRP to inquire about the procedures to obtain NIH visa sponsorship.
What do I need to do for the background check?
You will receive an enrollment email. To enroll, you need to go to an NIH office for fingerprinting and a photograph. There are locations throughout the country available for fingerprinting that your administrative assistant can coordinate. You will also receive a separate email to complete the required background investigation, known as eQIP (electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing). You have 7 business days to complete eQIP and any other required forms. You should work closely with your lab’s administrative assistant to complete the background check.
NOTE: In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a Federal background check, using Standard Form-85. Section 14 of the form asks, “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?” The question pertains to the illegal use of drugsor controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.