Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program

NCI is looking for candidates who demonstrate leadership ability, excellent communication skills, and a willingness to learn and adapt. NCI PMFs have gone on to become world-class administrators, scientists, and top-level leaders across the NIH and the federal government. PMFs can connect with our strong community of current and former PMFs, and take advantage of opportunities at NCI and NIH overall.

What is the PMF Program?

The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is a two-year leadership development and training program for advanced degree candidates (i.e., Master’s, Doctoral, and Juris Doctorate). The goal of the program is for fellows to have the opportunity to work in different areas in the federal government before converting into a permanent/career-conditional position at the end of their two years.

I could not have picked a better program to jumpstart my career in public health!

Maureen Clark Szemborski, Class of 2016

What NCI Offers PMF Finalists

  • NCI is a mission-driven organization, with a culture of learning, growth and development
  • Diverse developmental experiences across both management and scientific administration fields
  • Access to similar opportunities across NIH
  • This is in addition to and in support of the required OPM mentoring relationship


The program is open to PMFs finalists from diverse educational backgrounds and experiences. The program provides opportunities and training for fellows to develop themselves in scientific administration and management areas. Many non-scientific fellows from the PMF program have gone on to obtain leadership positions at NCI.

Training and Development Opportunities

There are myriad training and development opportunities provided across NCI’s Divisions, Offices and Centers and available across NIH that are open to fellows. These opportunities include:

  • Administrative and Scientific Training
  • Technical and Non-Technical Training
  • Budget, Acquisitions, and Grants Management
  • IT
  • Global Health/Health Disparities
  • Epidemiology
  • Communications & Public Affairs
  • Population Sciences
  • Government Relations
  • Management and Program Analysis
  • Research Strategy
  • Scientific Initiatives

Training opportunities are also focused on honing and developing other key skills employers look for in the workplace, such as leadership, teamwork, and communication. The NCI PMF Program has funds available to fellows to support individual professional development training.

NCI PMFs have worked on a wide variety of projects, including:

  • Analyze research portfolios to identify trends and opportunities in health communication, including health literacy, DVD/video-based interventions, natural language processing technology, and HPV vaccination promotion strategies
  • Plan evaluations of NCI international programs as part of the office five-year review
  • Aid in writing a branch-level 5-10-year strategic plan

Program Structure

  • NCI PMFs are either designated to the Institute or targeted to a specific NCI division or office
  • PMFs typically spend 80% of their time on their assigned work and 20% of their time on other PMF requirements
  • Designated fellows rotate through different offices at NCI during the course of their fellowship, while targeted fellows stay in their division/center for most of their fellowship
  • Rotations typically last between 4-5 months and are held at three locations: NCI Shady Grove/Rockville, MD (NCI main campus), Bethesda, MD (NIH main campus), and Frederick, MD (Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research)
  • Designated PMFs conduct informational interviews with people in offices across NCI to find programs and projects where they will complete meaningful work
  • PMFs participate in activities such as:
    • OPM and NIH Networking Events
    • NIH & NCI-wide Workshops
    • PMF-specific Brown Bags
    • Mentoring, Career Advising and Coaching

Applying for Positions/Agency Appointments

Yearly, candidates apply and go through a rigorous application process to be selected as finalists in the OPM Presidential Management Fellows Program. Finalists are then eligible to apply for appointments as (PMFs) in a federal organization such as NCI. NIH posts appointment opportunities for NCI in the PMF TMS (Talent Management Systems) for finalists to view.

For more information about applying, eligibility requirements and finding positions visit The Presidential Management Fellows Program website.

What Our Fellows Are Saying

From Maureen Clark Szemborski, Class of 2016: "I joined NCI as a designated PMF after completing my Master of Public Health (MPH) in 2014, with the goal of exploring opportunities in health policy and communication. The resources provided to NIH PMFs is extraordinary, and the professional network I was able to draw upon during my time as a fellow continues to support me today.

My NCI rotations provided a broad perspective that is difficult to match, as I was able to see NCI from both programmatic and administrative angles. From conducting portfolio analyses, to organizing scientific visioning retreats, to developing communications plans, to examining legislative activities and planning tours for members of Congress, I was able to hone my analytical skills and prepare for my current role in NCI’s Office of Government and Congressional Relations.

I frequently find myself drawing upon the experiences and networks I gained through my time as a fellow. I could not have picked a better program to jumpstart my career in public health!"

From Brian Johnson, PMF Class of 2019:  "I started at NCI as a PMF in August 2019. Having completed my first year, I can say that this has been an incredible experience and highly recommend it without reservation. I have especially valued the opportunities it has provided to meet people across NIH, participate in engaging and valuable trainings, and to work on interesting projects. I have been fortunate to have participated in fascinating and meaningful projects in all of my rotations to date and am confident that my last year will be similarly engaging.

I can say that this has been an incredible experience and highly recommend it without reservation. I have especially valued the opportunities it has provided to meet people across NIH, participate in engaging and valuable trainings, and to work on interesting projects.

From Brian Johnson, PMF Class of 2019

As an example of the kind of work I have been able to do, I did my first rotation at the NCI Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials. I selected this office because although I have a STEM background, my familiarity with clinical research was limited and so working there afforded me the opportunity to learn more about how this important work is carried out. This office maintains a database of all ongoing clinical trials managed by NCI, and I was able to contribute to its development as a tool to help NIH staff and the community at large. This included proposing improvements to the manner in which clinical trials are classified and demonstrating how the database might be used to inform clinical trial development.

If you believe in the NCI’s mission and want to find ways to contribute outside of the lab, the PMF program will provide you with the tools, training, and opportunities to do so."

About NCI

National Cancer Institute building
Credit: The JBG Companies / Jim Tetro

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCI leads, conducts, and supports cancer research across the nation to advance scientific knowledge and help all people live longer, healthier lives. One of NCI's top priorities is the training and development of the next generation of leaders. One of the ways NCI accomplishes this is through the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

For more questions about the PMF Program at NCI, please contact us:

  • Posted:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”