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The NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) recruits outstanding early investigators through an open and competitive process and provides tenure-track investigators (TTI) with the resources, mentoring and environment to allow them to succeed in achieving tenure at NIH. This document outlines the philosophy and practices that underlie achievement of this goal. The TTIs should have accountability, authority, and autonomy for their resources. Resource commitments outlined in this document represent a goal that is subject to change under extreme conditions. All new TTIs should take the leadership course "How to Succeed as a PI at the NIH" which will provide valuable information on how to implement these various recommendations.

The Tenure-Track Investigator will have independent resources (staff, space and budget)

  • The annual resource request for a TTI should be prepared by discussions between the TTI and the Lab/Branch Chief. The Lab/Branch Chief submits the annual Laboratory/Branch requests to the Scientific Director (SD). The TTI should have a mechanism to discuss resource requests directly with the SD, or designee, when necessary.
  • Laboratory and office space and slots for personnel (both FTE and non-FTE) should be available immediately upon TTI appointment, unless otherwise clearly specified in the offer letter. All TTIs should have an office, preferably a private office.
  • TTIs should be provided with an Institute/Center (IC) contact list of individuals who will provide assistance in essential functions (recruiting and hiring personnel, ordering, IT support, etc.)
  • For laboratory-based scientists, positions for a support person as well as fellows/students should be provided. For clinical investigators, infrastructure support will be provided in accordance with the Standards for Clinical Research Within the NIH IRP. Assistance with subject recruitment, database and protocol management, programming, and statistical analysis is particularly needed for clinical investigators.
  • Each TTI will have a budget provided yearly by the Scientific Director (except in NCI/DCEG and NLM/NCBI where funds are provided to programs) and a CAN to track expenditures for which the TTI is accountable. The TTI and Scientific Director (or designee) should develop a provisional (anticipated) budget by the beginning of the fiscal year (FY). Taps or funds that each PI may be requested to contribute to general Lab/Branch costs should be negotiated with the SD or Lab/Branch Chief at the beginning of the FY. In general, maintaining stability of TTI budgets should be considered a high priority and every effort will be made to provide the stated resources on a continuing basis. However, in rare cases circumstances beyond the control of the Scientific Director may necessitate some adjustments of the annual budget. The TTI will be notified in writing, as early as possible, of such changes and the reason for them.
  • Each TTI is responsible for their budget and must approve any use of their budget allocation. The ICs should provide budget reports to every TTI at least monthly. These should be in a format that will allow the individual to track expenditures (where the money goes) and to determine a bottom line of available funds, after encumbering personnel and known fixed expenses.
  • A general mechanism for requesting expensive equipment should be established and shared with TTIs.
  • The TTI should have dedicated space allocated, as well as access to common equipment space. These space allocations should be delineated to allow review of the resources given to a TTI.

The Tenure Track Investigator should be mentored by the Laboratory/Branch Chief, by other Principal Investigators (PIs) in the lab/branch, by the Scientific Director, and by NIH PIs.

  • The Laboratory/Branch Chief has the principal responsibility for mentoring each TTI in a Laboratory/Branch.
  • Each TTI should have a second mentor, who may be a PI in the Laboratory/Branch or in another Laboratory/Branch in the Institute or in another Institute or Institution, or a mentoring committee. Lists of potential mentors should be made available to the TTI and assistance provided to identify appropriate individuals.
  • NIH senior investigators should make efforts to invite TTIs to present seminars in their laboratory seminar series.
  • SDs should ensure that TTIs receive annual performance reviews from their supervisors; the TTI, Lab/Branch Chief or other direct supervisor, primary and second mentor(s) should receive a written summary of this review. TTIs should prepare lists of annual "accomplishments" to facilitate the quality of the yearly performance review (see Attachment). At a minimum these should include all activities as described in the "Criteria for Tenure at the NIH."
  • Every Scientific Director, or designee from the Office of the Scientific Director, should meet at least once a year with each TTI in their IC.
  • Independent publication is a major criterion for tenure evaluation. Proposed collaborations should be evaluated carefully with regard to their potential contribution to the research program and to meeting tenure criteria. The Lab/Branch Chief and Scientific Director should mentor the TTI in terms of collaborative projects and co-authorship. The authorship policy outlined in the Guidelines for the Conduct of Research in the NIH IRP should be followed - mentoring and/or critiques of manuscripts by senior investigators is not an entitlement for co-authorship. However, those TTIs involved in clinical projects are often co-authors with others in the laboratory or branch, including the Chief, on certain publications. The TTI should know the Criteria for Tenure at the NIH.
  • The reviews of the TTI by the Institute's Board of Scientific Counselors are critical and as for Senior Investigators, the TTI should receive advance information on this process and mentoring on the preparation of their presentations to the BSC. TTIs should receive a detailed written description of the BSC evaluation procedures and expectations and be notified of such an impending review approximately one year in advance. The review team should include at least two scientific experts conversant with the TTI's area of research, including one or more ad hoc reviewers, if necessary. Consensus critiques should be provided to the TTI after the review.


Proposed Template For Tenure-Track Self-Reporting

Please include the following:

  • Peer-reviewed manuscripts published or accepted for publication
  • Review articles published or accepted for publication
  • Invited lectures
  • Participation in grant reviews/study sections
  • Participation in manuscript reviews
  • Mentoring (students/postdocs)
  • Clinical activities (if applicable)
  • Participation on NIH committees and/or in interest groups
  • Collaborations within and outside NIH
  • Other notable accomplishments during the past year not reflected above
  • Problems/concerns regarding your progress to date

Also write one paragraph briefly outlining research goals for the coming year.

The page was last updated on Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 8:40pm