Investigator (Tenure-Track)

An Investigator is an NIH employee, who is a tenure-track scientist on a time-limited appointment. Investigators are selected by a competitive national search. A tenure-track position represents a commitment by the IC of independent resources, including salary, operating budget, personnel, and space. Research resources are adjusted based on scientific merit.

Investigator is a position designation for scientists whose abilities and focus in research make them candidates for permanent staff positions among the NIH independent scientists. As such, individuals in this position are embarked on a career path that, if successful, will lead to formal consideration for tenure.

Investigators enter tenure-track positions following completion of advanced research experience, i.e., some form of postdoctoral training or its equivalent. Such training may have occurred inside or outside of NIH. While there are no formal criteria for the length of postdoctoral training, training must be sufficient to allow for an evaluation of the scientist's potential as a tenure-track scientist.

Tenure-track at the NIH has been a six-year track (eight years for anyone doing clinical or epidemiological research) and the funding is provided for that entire period. In 2008, as part of an effort to make the IRP a more family-friendly place, an additional year was provided. However, after consultation with his/her IC leadership, anyone who so chooses can request to go up for tenure after six (or eight) years, or earlier by special exception. (See the Timetable under the Tenure Program.)

In creating a tenure-track position, the Scientific Director (SD) solicits recommendations from senior institute scientists, Special Interest Groups, IC Promotion and Tenure Review Panel, and/or the IC Board of Scientific Counselors. (For further information see Search Process for Tenure and Tenure-Track Investigators.

Appointment Mechanisms

Appointment procedures are outlined in Flow Chart for Approval of Intramural Professional Designation, Clinical Credentials, and Salary.

For further information about the tenure-track at NIH see:

The Tenure Program

Criteria for Tenure at the NIH

Philosophy and Practices for Tenure Track Investigators


Updated July 11, 2008

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