students

Apply Now to the 2017–2018 NIH Medical Research Scholars Program

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) is an excellent research enrichment opportunity for promising students from diverse backgrounds to gain real-life experience in NIH laboratories and patient care areas. NIMHD is proud to participate with other NIH Institutes and Centers in the MRSP. Our goal is to introduce the MRSP to medical, dental, and veterinary students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and encourage them to consider biomedical research as a career.

A medical researcher at work.

A medical researcher at work.

The U.S. population continues to increase in diversity, and there is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific talent which is key to our nation’s success is nurtured, recognized, and supported across all demographic groups. We need more researchers from diverse backgrounds to contribute minority perspectives and priorities to the research agenda, and advance the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in and benefit from health research.

However, minorities are seriously underrepresented in the biomedical workforce. In a recent study of U.S. citizens applying for investigator-initiated NIH research funding, African Americans were 13 percentage points less likely to receive awards, compared with Whites. African Americans/Blacks, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders make up a disproportionately small component of the NIH Principal Investigator (PI) pool.

MRSP works to address this deficit in the research workforce by providing a comprehensive, year-long residential program designed to attract the most creative, research-oriented medical, dental, and veterinary students to the NIH intramural campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Student scholars in their second, third, or fourth year of study engage in a closely mentored basic, clinical, or translational research project that matches their research interests and career goals.

150930_dr_perez-stable_ps2_032_medIn addition to pursuing a rigorous research agenda, MRSP scholars participate in career development activities, lectures, journal club seminars, patient rounds, and clinical research coursework. They also highlight their research in formal presentations to the NIH community and at professional conferences. Each scholar is assigned an advisor who provides guidance in defining a well-articulated career development plan and selecting a dedicated NIH research mentor. Mentors are full-time NIH investigators with established and successful basic, translational, or clinical research programs.

The mentorship of students and early-career scientists is essential to professional success and the future of the biomedical research enterprise as a whole. The availability and quality of mentoring support for graduate students and newly graduated doctorates is important to increasing the proportion of underrepresented minority students who will ultimately obtain an independent position in a research university, medical school, or independent research institute, and finally, successfully compete for R01 grants.

As part of NIH’s mission to train the next generation of clinician-scientists and biomedical researchers, this program is designed for U.S. citizens and permanent residents currently enrolled in an accredited medical, dental, or veterinary program who have completed their core clinical rotations. This does not preclude students with strong research interests from applying before they complete their clinical rotations. Medical and osteopathic students may participate after completing their first year of clinical rotations (i.e., third year of medical school). Dental and veterinary students may participate in the MRSP after completing their second or fourth year of study, due to the integrated nature of the third and fourth (clinical) years.

MRSP scholars experience the full continuum of biomedical research—the bench, the bedside, between the two, and beyond. So this is a comprehensive, integrated, rich opportunity for students ready to build a solid foundation for their careers in biomedical research.  I encourage students who are ready to take this competitive, yet rewarding next step to apply.

Applications for the 2017–2018 program will be accepted from October 1, 2016, through January 13, 2017. Interviews will be held in early March 2017, and selections will be announced in mid-March.

Visit the NIH MRSP website at http://cc.nih.gov/training/mrsp/index.html to learn more and submit your online application.

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Apply Now to NIMHD Loan Repayment Programs

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.

dr-castilleTo 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:

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 lrp@nih.gov, 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!

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