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Introduction to Cancer Research Careers Program

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The Introduction to Cancer Research Careers (ICRC) program provides recent college graduates the opportunity to complete a paid postbaccalaureate fellowship within the National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI is committed to training the next generation of scientific leaders, and it is crucial that this reflects the diversity of the population it serves. We strongly encourage underrepresented groups in biomedical research to submit applications.

As part of this program, ICRC fellows will

  1. Spend up to two years in a cohort program that offers additional support and networking
  2. Receive a travel award to ensure that fellows can attend at least one professional conference during their training
  3. Participate in career and professional development opportunities in preparation for their next career stage

Why Choose the NCI for a Postbac?

The NCI is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. Within the NCI divisions, offices, and centers, candidates will have the ability to explore opportunities in basic and clinical research, cancer epidemiology and genetics research, cancer control science, and global health. The NCI Intramural Research Program (IRP) is comprised of two components: the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). The NCI divisions and centers that regularly host postbacs within the Extramural Research Program (ERP) are the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) and the Center for Global Health (CGH).

The CCR is composed of over 220 Principal Investigators (PIs) in more than 50 laboratories, branches, and programs. Scientists enjoy intellectual freedom and are expected to explore the most important questions to advance cancer research using creativity and innovation. For additional information about research at CCR, please visit

DCEG is the world’s most comprehensive cancer epidemiology group. Scientists in DCEG conduct a national and international program of population, family, and laboratory-based studies to elucidate the environmental and genetic determinants of cancer.  For additional information about research at DCEG, please visit

In both IRPs you will find:

  • Extensive professional and career development opportunities
  • State-of-the-art research and equipment
  • A variety of core facilities to assist with your experimental needs
  • Access to additional training, courses, and workshops to facilitate your project goals
  • Fellow-led groups that build a sense of community
  • Competitive stipend and benefits for postbaccalaureate fellows

There are also limited fellowships within the ERP that focus on research areas across the cancer care continuum. While the extramural program is commonly known for supporting and funding cancer research, there are training opportunities to conduct research, as well as develop projects that aim to strengthen cancer control at the national and global levels.

DCCPS aims to reduce risk, incidence, and deaths from cancer as well as enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors. The division conducts and supports an integrated program of the highest quality of genetic, epidemiological, behavioral, social, applied, and surveillance cancer research. Fellows will work with a mentor on research projects, literature reviews, data analyses, presentations, and manuscript preparation.  For more information, please visit DCCPS Fellowship Opportunities.

CGH supports NCI's mission by advancing global cancer research and coordinating NCI engagement in global cancer control. CGH implements and advances programs that strengthen NCI’s existing global research portfolio. The center coordinates and develops research and training initiatives, establishes and facilitates international research networks and partnerships to decrease the global burden of cancer. Fellows will work with NCI staff to develop and implement projects that aim to strengthen cancer research and control globally. For more information about CGH, please visit Center for Global Health Fellowship Opportunities.


To be eligible for the ICRC program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • College graduate in good academic standing from a U.S. institution within two years from the program start date (early August)
  • Demonstrate previous or current research experience

NOTE: In order to be approved for logistical 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).  Section 14 of the Form asks, "in the last year, have you used, possessed, supplied, or manufactured illegal drugs?" The questions pertain to the illegal use of drugs or controlled substances in accordance with Federal laws, even though permissible under state laws.  Federal laws supersede all state laws.

How to Apply

In order to start an application, you must visit the ICRC Application Website and complete your application by the indicated deadline. Once your application is submitted, a request will be e-mailed to the contacts you provided as referees. All candidates will be notified by email regarding the status of their application by the indicated date.

ICRC Timeline

Activity Date
Application Cycle Opens November 1
Application Due Date December 30
Notification of Selection February 1
Interviews February 3rd  - 24th
ICRC Start Date August 1

Next Steps

Following your confirmation of selection, NCI investigators will contact candidates directly, via email, to schedule interviews at a mutually agreed upon time within the interview period. Please DO NOT interview with investigators outside of the ICRC process. You will have the ability to opt-out of interviews if you find a position after being selected.

After the interview, candidates and investigators submit their rankings in the ICRC system. Program managers will do their best to match candidates with their chosen investigator. The ICRC program will begin with an orientation in early August; however, you are welcome to start your fellowship at any date prior to orientation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the fellowship?

Ultimately that decision is between you and your mentor; however, postbac fellowships are typically for one or two years.

Does selection for program interviews guarantee that I obtain a position?

No, interviews are based on the availability of positions that match your research interests and experience. However, ICRC program managers will do its best to assist you with finding a position.

I plan to apply to an advanced degree program (medical school, graduate school, dental school, etc.). Will that be a problem?

No, it is expected that you would be applying for school or for a job at some point during your fellowship. Just be sure to communicate your needs and schedule with your mentor.

Is this a paid fellowship?

Yes. Fellows receive a monthly stipend that is determined by their education level, GPA, and relevant experience.


Contact Information

If you have questions about the program or application process, please contact

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