National Institutes of Health Fellowhip (E)

The overall goal of the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists is available in appropriate scientific disciplines to address the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. More information about NRSA programs may be found at the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) website. The primary purpose of the NRSA is to ensure the TRAINING of independent research scientists.

Structure of NIH

  • Organization of institutes
    • NIH is one of eight agencies that make up the Department of Health and Human Services. NIH awards, by far, the most grant money to U.S. universities to support biomedical research.
    • There are 25 Institutes and Centers under the umbrella of NIH. Each has its own mission.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellowship

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellowship

Award Info

  • Predoctoral Applicants will receive a stipend of $27,1446.
  • Postdoctoral Applicants will receive a stipend amount based on years of experience.
  • The NIH will provide funds for tuition, fees, health insurance, and training related expenses. Refer to the NIH notice: NOT-OD-23-076 for further information.
  • Award budgets are composed of stipends, tuition and fees, and institutional allowance
  • NRSA support is limited to 5 years for predoctoral trainees, and 3 years for postdoctoral fellows.


Eligibility Criteria

  • To be eligible for a Kirschstein-NRSA Individual Fellowship (F30, F31, F32), the fellowship applicant must be a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence before the award is issued. U.S. non-citizen nationals are persons born in lands that are not States but are under U.S. sovereignty, jurisdiction, or administration, e.g., American Samoa. Individuals on temporary student visas are not eligible for NRSA support. More for information, visit page I-97 of the Individual Fellowship Application Guide for NIH and AHRQ.

Application Criteria

  • All NIH applications submitted in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system according to the following criteria:

Overall Impact/Merit

Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood that the fellowship will enhance the candidate’s potential for, and commitment to, a productive independent scientific research career in a health-related field, in consideration of the scored and additional review criteria.

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Fellowship Applicant

  • Are the candidate’s academic record and research experience of high quality?
  • Does the candidate have the potential to develop into an independent and productive researcher?
  • Does the candidate demonstrate commitment to a research career in the future?
  • Does the research project reflect a significant contribution of the candidate to the originality of the project idea, approach and/or hypotheses relative to the career stage of the applicant?

Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants

  • Are the sponsor(s’) research qualifications (including recent publications) and track record of mentoring individuals at a similar stage appropriate for the needs of the candidate?
  • Is there evidence of a match between the research and clinical interests (if applicable) of the candidate and the sponsor(s)?
  • Do(es) the sponsor(s) demonstrate an understanding of the candidate’s training needs as well as the ability and commitment to assist in meeting these needs?
  • Is there evidence of adequate research funds to support the candidate’s proposed research project and training for the duration of the research component of the fellowship?
  • If a team of sponsors is proposed, is the team structure well justified for the mentored training plan, and are the roles of the individual members appropriate and clearly defined?
  • Are the qualifications of any collaborator(s) and/or consultant(s), including their complementary expertise and previous experience in fostering the training of fellows, appropriate for the proposed project?
  • If the candidate is proposing to gain experience in a clinical trial as part of his or her research  training, is there evidence of the appropriate expertise, experience, resources, and ability on the part of the sponsor(s) to guide the candidate during the clinical trial research experience?
  • Does the sponsor’s research and training record, as well as mentoring statement, indicate that the candidate will receive outstanding training in the proposed research area and have the opportunity to publish high quality papers and present research data at national meetings as the project progresses?

Research Training Plan

  • Is the proposed research project of high scientific quality, and is it well integrated with the proposed research training plan?
  • Is the prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project rigorous?
  • Has the applicant included plans to address weaknesses in the rigor of prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project?
  • Has the applicant presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed?
  • Has the applicant presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects?
  • Based on the sponsor’s description of his/her active research program, is the candidate’s proposed research project sufficiently distinct from the sponsor’s funded research for the candidate’s career stage?
  • Is the research project consistent with the candidate’s stage of research development?
  • Is the proposed time frame feasible to accomplish the proposed training?
  • Does the training plan provide adequate opportunities to present and publish research findings and meet with scientists in the community at national meetings as the work progresses?
  • Will the training plan provide the professional skills needed for the candidate to transition to the next stage of his/her research career?
  • If proposed, will the clinical trial experience contribute to the proposed project and/or the candidate’s research training?

Training Potential

  • Are the proposed research project and training plan likely to provide the candidate with the requisite individualized and mentored experiences in order to obtain appropriate skills for a research career?
  • Does the training plan take advantage of the candidate’s strengths and address gaps in needed skills?  Does the training plan document a clear need for, and value of, the proposed training?
  • Does the proposed training have the potential to serve as a sound foundation that will clearly enhance the candidate’s ability to develop into a productive researcher?

Institutional Environment & Commitment to Training

  • Are the research facilities, resources (e.g., equipment, laboratory space, computer time, subject populations, clinical training settings) and training opportunities (e.g. seminars, workshops, professional development opportunities) adequate and appropriate? 
  • Is the institutional environment for the candidate’s scientific development of high quality?
  • Is there appropriate institutional commitment to fostering the candidate’s mentored training?

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact/priority score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Human Subjects Protection and Inclusion Guidelines.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children

When the proposed project involves clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for inclusion of minorities and members of both genders, as well as the inclusion of children. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Human Subjects Protection and Inclusion Guidelines

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.


Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Application Process

Application Overview

  • F30 (dual doctoral degree fellowships, e.g., M.D.-Ph.D, D.D.S.-Ph.D) 
  • F31 (predoctoral fellowships)
  • F31 (predoctoral fellowships – diversity)
  • F32 (postdoctoral fellowships)
  • For a complete listing of Fellowship Program Announcements (PAs), see the F-kiosk.
  • Postdoctoral (F32) – Must have Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent. 
  • Predoctoral (F31) – Must have baccalaureate degree and be enrolled in a Ph.D. program.
  • F-series due receipt dates: April 8, August 8 and December 8
  • Parent announcement page

 Application Process

  • Notify your academic program that you plan to submit a NIH NRSA application
  • Applicants should work with their faculty advisor as early as possible to identify which NIH institute is most relevant to support their research and project, and to establish a strong training plan.
  • First time applicants are highly encouraged to give ample time to submit. Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant.
  • Start your application by creating an eRA Commons account. All applicants must have an NIH eRA Commons User with “PI” as the designated role to apply for a NRSA Fellowship.
  • To create an eRA Commons account, contact the Office of Research Administration at 949-824-0018.
  • Fellows will need to prepare a SF424 (R&R) Form.
  • Refer to SF424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide for NIH and AHRQ to search for specific topics by keyword or to find answers to your questions.
  • All NIH NRSA applications are due to the Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) office at least 5 to 10 business days prior to the NIH deadline.

Resources at UCIrvine

Writing consultants at the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholar Resource Center are available to help students to polish their writing by providing comments and suggestions on grammar and clarity.

  • Due to high demand, students are strongly encouraged to make an appointment by calling 949-824-3849.

Other Resources

  • Tips on grant writing from the NIH

UCIrvine’s SPA proposal resources, look under “Proposal Preparation