A Postdoctoral Fellow is a trainee who participates in laboratory-based or population-based biomedical research for the purpose of obtaining advanced training under the direction of a senior member of the scientific staff. Such trainees are not NIH employees and must have not more than five years of relevant research experience since their actual degree. The duration of a training award is limited to five years.
The goal of postdoctoral training at NIH is to provide advanced training and practical research experience to doctoral-level scientists who are in the beginning stages of their professional research careers. Fellows engage in research studies under the direction of senior investigators. Scientists who have less than 5 years of postdoctoral experience are eligible for this program and may remain in this program for a maximum of five years. (See 5 Year/8 Year Duration Rule).
Postdoctoral fellowships offer research training and experience, but the fellows are not required to perform services for NIH. Therefore the position does not count against the FTE ceiling and the following appointment mechanisms are used:
The DDIR will allow ICs to fund non-FTE obligations for trainees in less than one-year increments (blanket exception to manual chapter 2300-320-7). The IC will still be required to award traineeships and prepare personnel paperwork based on type of non-FTE position (i.e. 1–3-year increments) that lists the full dates of the committed award (at least one year) and list the full annual stipend amount. However, input into FPS can be done for less than that time per the IC's discretion on making the budget easier to manage but still ensure that all actions are done per the full dates of the award. Additionally, if the appointment goes past the end of the fiscal year, the obligation in FPS must run at least one month into the new fiscal year.
There are a variety of programs at NIH which support postdoctoral training.
More detailed information about postdoctoral training at NIH and application information may be found on the Office of Intramural Training and Education web site: http://www.training.nih.gov/