NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program


The NIGMS PRAT Program is a competitive three-year postdoctoral fellowship program that provides high quality research training in the basic biomedical sciences in NIH intramural research laboratories. The program prepares trainees for leadership positions in biomedical careers through mentored laboratory research, networking, and intensive career and leadership development activities.

The program places special emphasis on training fellows in all areas that are within the NIGMS mission, including but not limited to biological chemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, cellular and molecular biology, computational biosciences, developmental biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology, and technology development. The PRAT program includes professional development activities tailored to the PRAT fellows, such as a monthly seminar series featuring presentations by current PRAT fellows and outside speakers whom the fellows have invited, and training sessions focused on grant-writing, career planning, communications skills, and leadership skills.

PRAT fellows receive three years of stipend support (at competitive levels commensurate with experience and recognition of program selection), benefits and a travel allowance, and will participate in PRAT Program activities. Please see examples of research the PRAT fellows conduct:

Dr. Sofia Beas, Underlying Mechanisms Mediating Stress Responses in the Brain
Dr. Miriam Bocarsly, Neural Circuitry Driving Aberrant Consummatory and Appetititive Behavior
Dr. Jonathan Busada, The Role of Glucocorticoids in Suppressing Gastric Inflammation and Metaplasia
Dr. Drew Comrie, CHAPLE Disease Targeted Therapy for a Novel Complement Mediated Genetic Disorder
Dr. T. Chase Francis, Peptide Substance P in Opioid Addiction
Dr. Adenrele Gleason, What Properties of Specific Chromatin Regions Initiate Nuclear Envelope Breakdown
Dr. Lee Langer, Epigenetic Regulators Control Human Embryonic Stem Cell Pluripotency & Differentiation
Dr. Jonathan Murphy, Targeting Epilepsy Through a Novel Ion Channel Complex
Dr. Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto, Mechanism Behind Adaptive Stress Response & Interventions to Restore Age-Dependent Loss
Dr. David Reiner, Neural Mechanisms That Underlie Fentanyl Relapse in Rats
Dr. Apollo Stacy, How Do Infections Influence Each Other
Dr. Tommy Vo, How Does Mmi1YTH Erh1 Control Gene Expression
Dr. Sara Young-Baird, Pharmaceutical Suppression of a Cellular Model of MEHMO Syndrome


To be eligible applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D. or other relevant biomedical professional degree) and no more than five years of postdoctoral research experience by the time the PRAT fellowship would begin.
    • Individuals currently in Ph.D. or other doctoral degree-granting programs may apply as long as they anticipate completing the degree requirements before starting the PRAT Program.
    • Individuals already in the intramural program may apply as long as they began postdoctoral training on or after June 1, 2019.

The PRAT program is especially interested in ensuring the applicant pool reflects the diversity of the biomedical Ph.D. talent pool, and strongly encourages applications from scientists from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences.

NOTE: In order to be approved for logical and physical access to NIH facilities and systems, candidates must be able to pass a Federal background check, using Standard Form-85 (read SF-85 [PDF, 204KB]). NOTE: Section 14 of the form asks “In the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?” The question pertains to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.


Fellows pursue independent, mentored research under the guidance of one or more tenured or tenure-track NIH investigators. Applicants must identify and communicate with a potential preceptor before applying to PRAT to develop a research proposal as part of the fellowship application. Eligible preceptors and descriptions of their research can be found at the NIH Intramural Research Program website. Preceptors also can be found by searching the NIH Intramural Database either by keywords or by name of a specific investigator. Note: Each preceptor may be the primary sponsor on only one PRAT application in the same review cycle but may co-sponsor additional applications.

Specific Dates for Next Application Cycle

September 2, 2020PRAT application submission period begins
October 2, 2020Applications and letters of reference must be received by 5:00 PM ET
February-March 2021Scientific review of applications
April-May 2021Summary statements available, and finalists notified
Late summer/early fall 2021Earliest start date for new PRAT fellows (typically, September 1)

Suggested Timeline for Application to the PRAT Program

Applicants to the NIGMS PRAT program must apply through the NIH Fi2 funding mechanism - The NIH Fi2 application is similar to the application for the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32) individual postdoctoral fellowship.

For more information about PRAT, including eligibility requirements, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, May 21, 2019 (PAR-19-286), or contact Dr. Kenneth Gibbs.

PRAT Program Overview and Application Process Webinar and Slides [PDF, 1.04MB], June 19, 2019

PRAT Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The PRAT fellows standing in a group in front of a building on NIH campus.

Group Photo of PRAT Fellows with NIGMS Director Dr. Jon Lorsch, and PRAT Program Directors Dr. Kenneth Gibbs and Dr. Mercedes Rubio, June 2019