The longstanding NIGMS PRAT Program is a competitive postdoctoral fellowship program to pursue research in one of the laboratories of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The program was initiated to address a national need for well-trained pharmacologists, and as the field of pharmacology has matured and broadened, the program has followed suit. To reflect this shift, in 2012 the P in the program’s acronym changed from “Pharmacology” to “Postdoctoral.” The PRAT acronym remains the same.
The program places special emphasis on training fellows in relevant emerging research areas as defined by NIGMS. For the next 3 years (2013-2015), these areas are quantitative and systems pharmacology (QSP) and computational biology.
The overall theme of the postdoctoral research project proposed by a candidate to the PRAT Program may explore a variety of subject areas, including molecular pharmacology, biochemistry, signal transduction mechanisms, drug metabolism, immunology, chemistry and drug design, endocrinology, cell biology, structural biology, neuroscience, gene therapy or clinical pharmacology. The focus of the research conducted during the PRAT fellowship period should fall within the definition of quantitative and systems pharmacology and/or computational biology.
NIH defines computational biology as the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavioral and social systems.
NIH defines quantitative and systems pharmacology as an approach to translational medicine that combines computational and experimental methods to elucidate, validate and apply new pharmacological concepts to the development and use of small molecule and biologic drugs. QSP promises to provide an integrated “systems level” approach to determining mechanisms of action of new and existing drugs in preclinical and animal models and in patients. It will also create the knowledge needed to change complex cellular networks in a specified way with mono or combination therapy, alter the pathophysiology of disease so as to maximize therapeutic benefit and minimize toxicity, and implement a “precision medicine” approach to improving the health of individual patients.
Applicants must have received a Ph.D. or a professional degree (M.D., D.D.S, D.O., D.V.M., or Pharm.D.) in a basic or clinical science within the last 5 years, and they must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applicants may apply prior to coming to NIH or FDA, or they may have started postdoctoral research at NIH or FDA within the 12-month period prior to the application receipt deadline.
Applicants select a preceptor in advance. Preceptors are scientists at the NIH or FDA who have an interest in training fellows through this program, and who will indicate their commitment through formal submission of their credentials at the time of application. Eligible preceptors and descriptions of their research can be found using the online search engine NIH RePORTER. To use this tool to search the NIH intramural faculty by Institute/Center or area of research, place your search term(s) in the “search term” box, then under ‘funding mechanism’ select ONLY ‘Intramural research’ and submit the query.
The application process involves submission of:
- The completed PRAT application form, which includes a brief research plan and short statement of relevance to quantitative and systems pharmacology and/or computational biology.
- The signed preceptor selection form.
- Letters of recommendation.
- Official graduate and undergraduate transcripts and curricula vitae for both the applicant and the preceptor.
Apply for the PRAT Program at https://prat.nigms.nih.gov.
Most research facilities are located in a campus-like setting in Bethesda, MD. Other research facilities are located in Baltimore, MD; Frederick, MD; and Research Triangle Park, NC.
Appointments are made at competitive salary levels commensurate with other fellowship opportunities at the NIH. In addition, there is a monthly supplies allowance and an annual travel allowance. Individuals with professional degrees are eligible to become commissioned officers in the Public Health Service.
|October 15, 2012
||PRAT Application submission opens|
|February 27, 2013
||PRAT Application receipt deadline|
|April - May
||Review of applications|
|May - June
||Notification of candidates|
|September - October
||PRAT fellowships begin*|
* PRAT fellowships are 3-year appointments beginning in fall of each year; however, earlier start dates though other mechanisms may be negotiated individually by the fellow with the preceptor and the host laboratory.
- Tracking a Hospital Outbreak of Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae with Whole-Genome Sequencing
Article by PRAT fellow Evan Snitkin in Science Translational Medicine, August 22, 2012
- Collie vs. Pug: Genetic Basis for Dog Skull Shape
PRAT fellow Jeffrey J. Schoenebeck reveals a gene responsible for the characteristic head shape (“brachycephaly”) of breeds like bulldogs and pugs and shows that the gene is evolutionarily ancient.
PLoS Genetics, August 2, 2012
- Body Bacteria: Exploring the Skin's Microbial Metropolis
Findings magazine article about former PRAT fellow Elizabeth Grice, January 2012
- ‘Superstar’ Scientists Complete Pharmacology Postdoc Program
NIH Record, September 5, 2008
- Synthetic Protein Eases Arthritis Symptoms in Mice
Research by PRAT fellow Guo-Min Deng could be the basis for a new arthritis drug.
Nature Medicine, September 2005
- In a Class of Their Own: PRATs Are Tomorrow's Leaders in Pharmacology
NIH Record, December 10, 2002
- Crossing Paths on the Road to Pharmacology: PRAT Fellows Mix, Mingle, and Move On
The NIH Catalyst, November-December 2002
For further information, or for an application kit, contact:
PRAT Program Assistant
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200