NIH Graduate Partnerships Program; Individual Partnerships

NIH Graduate Partnerships Program; Individual Partnerships

October 22, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


>>I’m Dr. Phillip Wang and I
work at the National Institutes of Health in the Office of Intramural Training
and Education. I’m the director of the
graduate partnerships program or GPP for short. The GPP is a collaborative
education program where PhD level students
from universities all over the world can come to the
NIH Intramural Research Program to perform all or part of their
doctoral dissertation research. Currently we’ve about
400 graduate students and overall they
have represented over a 100 different
universities worldwide. GPP students are full-time
students at the home university and full-time trainees
at the NIH. The students receive their
degree from the home university, but perform research at the NIH. There are two main
pathways to enter the GPP; institutional partnerships
and individual partnerships. For the most part
institutional partnerships are for perspective PhD students
that are interested in applying to and entering graduate school. Whereas for individual
partnerships, those are students that are currently
enrolled in a PhD program. For institutional partnerships, the NIH has established formal
agreements with a number of domestic and international
universities and these students are
typically with us from the start to the finish of their
graduate program. Today I’m going to focus
on the second pathway for the GPP listed here called
individual partnerships. This is where a currently
enrolled PhD student can come to the NIH for all or part of the doctoral dissertation
research. I also want to emphasize
that no matter which pathway you come
through, all graduate students at the NIH are welcome
to participate in OITE and GPP training activities. Through the individual
partnership a student that is currently enrolled in
a PhD program can at some point in their graduate program
seek to collaborate with an NIH intermural
investigator and join the GPP. The individual partnership
is designed for students that have completed
their coursework and other candidacy
related academic milestones and are ready to focus on
the dissertation research. For students in U.S. programs
as typically after the first or second year is complete, but timelines can differ
depending on your program. In terms of eligibility GPP
individual partnerships are open to currently enrolled PhD
students that are U.S. citizens, permanent residents
or foreign nationals. The partnering university
can be anywhere in the world and the NIH mentor must be
a principle investigator in the NIH intermural
research program. Also there’s no application
season or application fee for individual partnerships. They can be formed year-round. So here are the steps to create
an individual partnership. The first item is to
discuss the possibility of performing a research
at the NIH with your university
mentor and department. You might introduce them to
the GPP by sharing our website or this video and the GPP staff and I are always happy
to answer questions. Importantly you must
have permission from your department
to be a GPP student. The next step is to identify an
NIH investigator that is willing to mentor you for your
dissertation research. I encourage you to check out
our website on finding a mentor and familiarizing yourself with
the NIH annual reports database and the various NIH
intermural websites. Also seek guidance from
your university mentor and use your university
networks. Then take the initiative
to reach out to an NIH investigator. Craft a professional and concise
email explaining why you wish to work with this particular
person and start a conversation. After you’ve emailed an
NIH principle investigator, don’t be discouraged if you
don’t hear back immediately and also don’t be discouraged
if they respond saying that they don’t have the
resources for a graduate student at that particular time. Finding the right mentor is
one of the most vital parts of your graduate experience and sometimes it can take a
considerable amount of effort. Here at the NIH we have over
1200 principle investigators and many of them are passionate
about graduate education. Also I wanted to note
that if you email someone and you don’t hear back
after several days, feel free to send them
a friendly follow-up. One of the beauties of the
individual partnership is that there is a degree
of flexibility in crafting your partnership. In your discussions with
your university mentor and your perspective NIH mentor, make sure everyone has a clear
understanding of the financial and administrative
aspects of the agreement, as well as the length of time that you’ll be performing
your research at the NIH. The typical financial items
to discuss include who’s going to fund the stipend, health
insurance and tuition. Some students come
with outside funding from their home university
or other organization, whereas some students
seek to be funded entirely by the NIH investigator or
there’s a combination thereof in the event that the funding
sources are compatible. If you are seeking to
combine NIH intermural funding with another funding source
and you have questions, please let me know and
I’d be happy to discuss. They can be complicated at
times because certain types of funds cannot mix, but
depending on the circumstances, oftentimes there is a solution. It’s important to note that
all NIH PhD students here for six months or greater must
receive a stipend in accordance with the NIH predoctoral IRTA
and visiting fellow scale. The stipend must come from
an institutional source, meaning personal or family funds
cannot count towards a stipend. For more information
on this policy, see the link on this slide. So once your discussions are
complete, please register for a GPP individual partnership through our online
application center. The system will ask you for
some personal information and the name of your NIH mentor. Once you register, the NIH
mentor will be sent an official copy of the memorandum
of understanding template and will be asked to confirm that a training offer
has been extended. The memorandum of understanding or MOU formalizes
the partnership and must be completed for each
student performing research within the NIH for
six months or greater. The MOU basically spells
out the responsibilities of the university, the NIH,
the mentor and the student. Again upon submission
of the GPP application, a copy of the MOU template will
be sent to the NIH investigator and will confirm that an offer
to train has been extended. The MOU must be completed
and filed in a GPP office prior
to your arrival. The NIH mentor in collaboration
with the university mentor and department officials
should prepare the MOU template according to the agreements
that set forth by all parties. Please note that any
modifications to the language of the MOU really needs to be
discussed with the GPP office and may require extensive
review. So in general completing the
MOU template includes filling in the appropriate spaces
with names of individuals and institutions, but the one
exception is the financial appendix for the MOU. That page is meant to be edited
to reflect the agreements that have been made, namely
who’s funding the stipend, health insurance and tuition. The MOU must be signed by
the student, the NIH mentor, the NIH institute or
center scientific director, the university advisor
and the leadership of the student’s university. Finally it must be signed
by the OITE director. Additional signatures may
also be required depending on the situation. For example many NIH institutes and centers require
the signature of the NIH training director. Once the MOU process
is complete, the sponsoring NIH institute or center administrative
office may proceed with the appropriate paperwork to appoint the student
within the NIH. So these are the
types of appointments. First predoctoral intermural
research training award fellow. So this is for U.S. citizens
and permanent residents that receive full NIH
intermural funding for stipend and health
insurance. Next predoctoral
visiting fellow. This is for foreign nationals that are receiving full
NIH intermural funding. Next is supplemental pre-doc
IRTA or visiting fellow. So this is if the
NIH is contributing to part of the funding. Next is a special volunteer. This is you’re fully
funded by another source and the stipend parity rules
are completely satisfied. And finally a guest researcher
appointment is not common for GPP students, but
under certain circumstances where a special volunteer
appointment might not apply, a guest researcher might be
appropriate with the approval of the office of
intermural research. For international
students please note that the sponsoring
NIH institute or center must submit the
appropriate appointment paperwork to the NIH division of
international services or DIS. The MOU must be complete
in order for DIS to process the package. So to the NIH mentors and
administrative staff watching, please make sure
you send the MOU to us before you submit
the package to DIS. Otherwise you may end up
with some unintended delays. For international students
who are on a F1 visa, approval of the MOU from the
university international office is also required. So why come to the NIH for
your graduate education? Well I could spend a whole
video just on this topic, but for now I’ll sum
it up with this slide and really emphasize the ability
to do cutting edge science, being a part of a
vibrant community of fellow graduate students, having great collaborative
opportunities and having the full
resources of the NIH office of intermural training
and education, as well as the training
directors and training offices within the NIH institutes
and centers to really focus on your career and
professional development. So if you’re looking for an
exciting collaborative program that really bridges your
home university and the NIH, I encourage you to check it out. And once you’re here, make sure
you attend our OITE orientation for new graduate students to
learn all about our community and how to make the most of
your experience here at the NIH. So in summary, if you’re a
currently enrolled PhD student anywhere in the world and you’re
interested in performing all or part of your doctoral
dissertation research at the National Institutes of
Health, I recommend checking out the GPP individual
partnerships. So actually about 50%
of our GPP students come through individual partnerships,
so which is a great mechanism that has the flexibility
to adapt to a wide variety of scenarios. Well I hope you enjoyed
this video. If you’d like more information,
please feel free to email me at [email protected] and visit
our website at training.nih.gov.