UPDATE: Click here to access the Loan Repayment Program Technical Assistance webinar that NIMHD hosted on September 15, 2016.
By Dorothy M. Castille, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator, NIMHD Division of Scientific Programs
Education is the foundation of our nation’s biomedical research enterprise. But a college education is expensive, and a post-graduate education is even more expensive, with the average cost of medical, veterinary, and dental school totaling more than $200,000. In exchange for a commitment to conduct biomedical or behavioral research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will repay up to $70,000 of student loan debt (over two years) per two-year contract through the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs).
If you are a qualified health professional who agrees to engage in NIH mission–relevant research for at least 20 hours per week at a nonprofit or government institution, you may be eligible to apply to one of the five extramural LRPs:
- Clinical Research Extramural LRP: Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects
- Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Extramural LRP: Research conducted by clinical investigators from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Contraception and Infertility Research Extramural LRP: Research on conditions affecting the ability to conceive and bear young
- Health Disparities Research Extramural LRP: Research that focuses on minority and other health disparity populations
- Pediatric Research Extramural LRP: Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) funds two of these LRPs. The objective of the Health Disparities Research Extramural LRP is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals for research careers that focus on minority health disparities or other health disparities to engage and promote the development of research and research programs that reflect the variety of issues and problems associated with disparities in health status. This requirement highlights the need for the involvement of a cadre of culturally competent health professionals in minority health disparities and other health disparities research.
The objective of the Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Extramural LRP is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds for clinical research careers. The emphasis on clinical research and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds highlights the need for the involvement of a cadre of competent health professionals in clinical research.
Approximately 1,500 scientists benefit from the $70 million that NIH invests each year through the extramural LRPs. On average, nearly 50 percent of all new LRP applications are funded, and these awards are competitively renewable (for a one- or two-year period) until all educational debt is repaid. The LRPs are unique programs with tremendous benefit to young researchers, so we strongly encourage researchers that were not successful in getting their applications funded to apply again.
To qualify, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, possess a doctoral-level degree (with the exception of the Contraception and Infertility Research LRP), and have educational loan debt equal to or exceeding 20 percent of his/her annual institutional base salary.
Thinking of applying this year? There are a few updates that you should keep in mind:
- All applicants (new and renewal) are required to have an eRA Commons ID to submit an LRP application. If you don’t have an eRA Commons ID, act quickly, because it could take several weeks to get one! Check with your grants administrator and visit the eRA Commons website for more information.
- We have a newly redesigned, easier-to-use online application! All applicants (new and renewal) will be required to create a new log-in account. Check out the new application and application guide (online and as a PDF) at lrp.nih.gov.
- All application components, including the LRP application, recommendations, and institutional support documentation, are due by December 1, 2016.
Please contact any of these NIMHD program staff for assistance with a new application or feedback on a previous application:
- Dorothy M. Castille, Ph.D.
- Adelaida Rosario, Ph.D.
- Vincent Thomas, M.S.W., M.P.A.
Visit www.lrp.nih.gov for more details and to apply. For additional assistance, call or email the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 or email@example.com, Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. You can also follow the NIH Division of Loan Repayment on Twitter and Facebook for more information and cycle updates. Get started on your application today!