The International Fellowship F05 award of the NIH

February 4, 2011

I had no idea.
Many of us PIs in the US are used to trying to suss out, hopefully subtly, whether or not potential postdocs who are approaching us are US citizens.
This is not because we are all jingoistic bigots, it is rather because the NIH NRSA training grant (institutional or individual) requires that supported trainees

must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence

So if a potential postdoc qualified for the NRSA, there is at least the possibility of landing NIH support for the person’s stipend.
Conversely the thinking is that a non-qualifying person would be more limited in the types of additional support that are available.
Well a kind reader has alerted me to the F05 International Neuroscience Fellowship announcement which has been around at least since 2006. The purpose?

The goal of the International Neuroscience Fellowship (INF) is to advance the training of qualified foreign neuroscientists and clinicians at the early or mid-career level, by enhancing their basic, translational or clinical research skills in a research setting in the United States (U.S.). This program aims to strengthen the intellectual capital of neuroscience research in international institutions. Awardees are expected to pursue future independent and productive careers, which stimulate research in the neurosciences on a global scale.
Eligible individual applicants include non-immigrant foreign scientists at the early or mid-career level.

Sweet! NIH fellowships for foreign postdocs. wait, what about that tricky language about the host countries having to be sufficiently disadvantaged?

“All applicants must be from a low- to middle-income country based on Gross National Income per capita classified by the World Bank

As my correspondent notes: “Scroll down to “lower middle income countries”. Note the presence of both China and India on that list.“.
Well, all good then, amirite?
I mean c’mon, don’t be worried domestic postdocs. After all

All applicants must have a doctoral or equivalent degree, and an endorsement from their home institution, with a guaranteed appointment upon completion of the fellowship.

What could go wrong?

10 Responses to “The International Fellowship F05 award of the NIH”

  1. miko Says:

    1. The F05 isn’t a postdoc position, it’s for people who already have a job (maybe a postdoc) somewhere else and want a vacation in the U.S.
    2. PI’s shouldn’t hire postdocs they can’t afford, and any postdoc worth having should never work for a PI who tells them their job is remotely contingent on getting their salary elsewhere. If you’re in a lab that can’t pay you (or you aren’t worth paying), you should probably just quit now. And actually, if you’re in a lab that can’t pay you, you won’t get an NRSA anyway. Is that irony?


  2. Ace Says:

    Saw that yesterday and was shocked. It’s been around since 2006 and it’s the first time I saw it. I was under the impression that NIH did not have any foreign funding for postdoc level.


  3. becca Says:

    Aren’t the K99/R01s accessible to foreign postdocs?


  4. DrugMonkey Says:

    Yes, miko, which is why I said the primary benefit of the NRSA to Postdoc Smith is so that the PI can use the freed-up salary line to hire Postdoc Jones.
    Ace, the reason you and I have never heard of these may be that they are quite rare. Check RePORTER…


  5. expat group leader Says:

    At Ace#2,
    NIH does allow F32s for training at foreign institutions but only for US citizens and perm residents.


  6. mikka Says:

    The operative word here is “non-immigrant”. This limits the visa to a J1 or similar with “visitor” status (no H1B) that precludes advances towards green cards, and likely carries a strict “two year rule” with it (requirement to return to home country and two year ban on applying for other visas) because it’s funded by a national government (NIH) unlikely to waive that requirement. Plus the committal by the home institution to hire the grantee back as a requirement to even apply makes this very unlike a postdoc NRSA grant.
    K99/R00 are open to foreigners but have no such immigration side requirements.


  7. miko Says:

    “Yes, miko, which is why I said the primary benefit of the NRSA to Postdoc Smith is so that the PI can use the freed-up salary line to hire Postdoc Jones.”
    How is that a benefit to Postdoc Smith? Postdoc Jones is American, so he’s a dick who nods knowingly during seminars and always wants to tell you what was on the Daily Show last night. It’s a benefit to PI Websurfer. For Postdoc Smith it is a waste of untold hours filling out absurd forms and “liaising” with rubber stamps in some university grants office.
    I have not idea why postdocs are the ones who apply for NRSAs. The award is to the PI/institution.


  8. miko Says:

    Wait, maybe I parsed your sentence incorrectly: did you mean, The primary benefit of [the NRSA to Postdoc Smith] is that the PI has extra money blah blah?
    It takes 10 times as long as any other fellowship application and has several more idiotic puff paragraphs, you have to get physical letters of recommendation (ah, the 20th century), it no longer has a particularly high success rate, you are almost guaranteed to have to do it more than once. With new physical letters of recommendation.
    At the end you get nothing you shouldn’t already have (the myth that it may “help” in some nebulous way with your future R01 is a lie to trick you into doing it–and face it, you will probably never be in a position to apply for an R01 anyway, even if the NIH still funds basic research 5 years from now). No postdoc should waste their time applying for this…I suppose you could let your PI write it for you.


  9. expat group leader Says:

    Why so negative?
    Everything that I wrote in the NRSA has been used in manuscripts and subsequent grants/job applications. It was extremely useful to sit down, spend a short amount of time writing it and let those nebulous thoughts crystallize into R01-scale research plans.
    Now, if you join a PI’s group, and just do what they want of you (research-wise), then an NRSA has very little value. If you join a group, submit an NRSA that’s tangentially related to the PIs research focus, get it funded (with bench fees) then you should be able to form your own narrative line of research.
    That’s why it’s valuable to write an NRSA and get it funded.
    You seem very cynical.


  10. miko Says:

    EGL, I don’t see anything in there you shouldn’t be doing anyway, or that requires (or is enhanced by) an NRSA.


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