Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards, NRSAs, NRSA, individual fellowship, research areas, research training programs, degree requirements, citizenship, sponsorship, NIH employees and other federal sponsorship (federal fellows), individuals on active military duty

11.2.2 Eligibility

11.2.2.1 Research Areas

Kirschstein-NRSA fellowships may be made for research training in areas that fall within the missions of the NIH ICs. Applications that do not address these areas will be returned. An increased emphasis has been placed on the research training of physicians. The HHS Secretary is required by law, in taking into account the overall national needs for biomedical research personnel, to give special consideration to physicians who agree to undertake a minimum of 2 consecutive years of biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research training. NIH recognizes the critical importance of training clinicians to become researchers and encourages them to apply. For those who have a doctoral-level health professional degree, the proposed training may be used to satisfy a portion of the degree requirements for a master's degree, a doctoral degree, or any other advanced research degree program.

11.2.2.2 Research Training Program

The Kirschstein-NRSA fellowship must be used to support a program of research training. It may not support studies leading to M.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.V.M., or other similar clinical, health professional degrees except when those studies are part of a formal combined research degree program such as the M.D./Ph.D. Similarly Kirschstein-NRSA fellowships may not support the clinical portion of residency training. Research fellows in clinical areas are expected to devote full time effort to the proposed research training and to confine clinical duties to those that are part of the research training.

11.2.2.3 Degree Requirements

Predoctoral Training. Individuals must have received, as of the activation date of their Kirschstein-NRSA pre-doctoral fellowship award, a baccalaureate degree or equivalent and must be enrolled in and training at the postbaccalaureate level in a program leading to the award of a Ph.D. or equivalent research degree program (e.g., Eng.D., D.N.Sc., Dr.P.H., D.S.W., Pharm.D, Sc.D.), a formally combined MD/PhD, or other combined professional/clinical and research doctoral program (eg., D.O./Ph.D., D.D.S./Ph.D., D.V.M./Ph.D.) in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences.

Postdoctoral Training. Before a Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral fellowship award can be activated, individuals must have received a Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S, D.M.D., D.C., D.O., D.V.M., O.D., D.P.M., Sc.D., Eng.D., Dr. P.H., D.N.Sc., D.P.T., Pharm.D., N.D., D.S.W., Psy.D., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign organization. Also acceptable is a statement by an AOR of the degree-granting institution that all degree requirements have been met. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution, not the NIH, to determine if a foreign degree is equivalent.

Senior Fellows. As of the beginning date of their award, senior fellows must have a doctoral degree (as specified in Postdoctoral training referenced above) and at least 7 subsequent years of relevant research and professional experience. The senior fellowship is awarded to provide opportunities for experienced scientists to make major changes in the direction of their research careers or to broaden their scientific backgrounds by acquiring new research capabilities. In addition, these awards will enable individuals who are beyond the new investigator stage to take time from regular professional responsibilities to enhance their capabilities to engage in health-related research. Senior fellowships are made for full-time research training. More information on the senior fellowship program can be found in the NIH Kirschstein-NRSA Senior Fellows (F33) program announcement available on the NIH Website.

11.2.2.4 Citizenship

The individual to be trained must be a citizen or a noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence by the time of award. Noncitizen nationals are individuals, who, although not citizens of the United States, owe permanent allegiance to the United States. They generally are people born in outlying possessions of the United States (e.g., American Samoa and Swains Island). Individuals who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence must have a currently valid Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551) or other legal verification of such status. For example, if an individual has the proper validation on his/her passport, a notarized photocopy of the passport could suffice. Because there is a 6-month limitation on this validation, it is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution to follow up and ensure that the individual receives the I-551 before the 6-month expiration date.

An individual expecting to be admitted as a permanent resident by the earliest possible award date listed in the Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowship program announcement may submit an application for a fellowship. The submission of documentation concerning permanent residency is not required as part of the initial application. Any fellowship applicant selected to receive an award must provide a notarized statement of admission for permanent residence prior to award.

Fellowship applicants who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence, i.e., have a Permanent Resident Card or other legal verification of such status, should check the Permanent Resident box in the citizenship section on the PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form of the fellowship application. Fellowship applicants who have applied for and have not yet been granted admission as a permanent resident should check the box indicating Permanent Resident of U.S. Pending.

Individuals with a Conditional Permanent Residency Status may still apply for individual fellowships. However, in all cases when permanent residency status is involved, it is the responsibility of the sponsoring institution to assure the individual remains eligible for NRSA support for the period of time of any award.

Individuals with Asylum/Refugee status do not automatically hold a type of permanent residency status; they have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency status once they have been in the U.S. for a period of time. Therefore, individuals with Asylum/Refugee status should only submit an individual fellowship application once they have applied for permanent residency status.

When an application involving Permanent Residency is selected to receive an award, prior to any award being issued, a notarized statement will be required that documents that a licensed notary has seen the individual's valid Permanent Resident Card or other valid verification from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service of legal admission to the U.S.

Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible to apply for Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowships unless they have begun the process for becoming a permanent resident and expect to be admitted as a permanent resident by the earliest possible award date.

11.2.2.5 Sponsorship

General. Before submitting a Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowship application, the fellowship applicant must identify a sponsoring institution and an individual who will serve as a sponsor (also called mentor or supervisor) and supervise the training and research experience. The sponsoring institution may be domestic or foreign, public or private (for-profit or non-profit), including the NIH intramural programs, other Federal laboratories, and units of State and local governments. The sponsoring institution is legally responsible for providing facilities for the applicant and financially responsible for the use and disposition of any funds awarded based on the application. The sponsor should be an active investigator in the area of the proposed research who will directly supervise the fellow's research. The sponsor must document in the application the training plan for the applicant as well as the availability of staff, research support, and facilities for high-quality research training. In most cases, postdoctoral fellowships support research training experiences in new settings in order to maximize acquisition of new skills and knowledge. Therefore, postdoctoral fellowship applicants proposing training at their doctoral institution must document thoroughly the opportunity for new training experiences designed to broaden their scientific backgrounds. In addition, the application should propose research experiences that will allow the fellow to acquire new knowledge and/or technical skills that will enhance his/her potential to become a productive, independent investigator.

Foreign Sponsorship. An individual may request support for training abroad. In such cases, the fellowship applicant is required to provide detailed justification for the foreign training, including the reasons why the facilities, the mentor, or other aspects of the proposed experience are more appropriate than training in a domestic setting. The justification is evaluated in terms of the scientific advantages of the foreign training as compared to the training available domestically. Foreign training may require additional administrative reviews and will be considered for funding only when the scientific advantages are clear.

11.2.2.6 NIH Employees & Other Federal Sponsorship (Federal Fellows)

Both civil service employees and PHS commissioned officers at NIH and other Federal laboratories are permitted to compete for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships. The proposed training should be primarily for career development rather than for the immediate research needs of NIH or the other Federal laboratory. When at an NIH laboratory, the employee's supervisor must disassociate himself/herself from the review and award process.

An individual at NIH or another Federal laboratory who is supported under an individual fellowship may not also hold an employee position with the Federal Government. Therefore, successful fellowship applicants for predoctoral or postdoctoral awards must either resign from NIH or the other Federal laboratory or take LWOP before activating the award. (There is no obligation or commitment by either the Federal agency or the fellow for future employment upon termination of the fellowship.)

Support provided for Federal fellows is similar to those at non-Federal sponsoring institutions; stipendsA payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training. A stipend is not considered compensation for the services expected of an employee., tuition (when applicable), and institutional allowance are provided. However, the administration and payment of these fellowships is unique. Specifics are noted in the applicable sections below. This requirement does not apply to employees of facilities that are Government-owned but Contract-operated, as they are not considered Federal laboratories.

11.2.2.7 Individuals on Active Military Duty

NIH does not restrict career military personnel from applying for Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowship awards while on active military duty. At the time of application, the fellowship applicant's branch of the military service should submit a letter endorsing his/her application and indicating willingness to continue normal active duty pay and allowances during the period of the requested fellowship. If an award is made, the institutional allowance and necessary tuition and fees permitted on a postdoctoral program will be paid by NIH. However, stipendsA payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training. A stipend is not considered compensation for the services expected of an employee., health insurance, and travel allowances are not allowable charges to a Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowship for career military personnel. Payment of concurrent benefits by NIH to active duty career military awardees is not allowed.