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NCI Graduate Student Recruiting Program

Young Scientist in Lab Looking at the Camera
Credit: Getty Images

The Graduate Student Recruiting Program (GSRP) provides senior level graduate students an introduction to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and an opportunity to explore postdoctoral opportunities within the intramural research program. 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 under-represented minorities to submit applications.  Students are selected through a competitive process, where applications are reviewed by NCI investigators, many of whom are seeking to fill open postdoc positions.

As part of the program, accepted applicants will:

  1. Learn about the training and professional development opportunities that NCI offers
  2. Network with investigators and laboratory personnel to determine if the intramural research program is an ideal fit

Why Choose the NCI for a Postdoc?

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. 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 CCR is composed of over 250 Principal Investigators (PIs) in more than 50 Laboratories, Branches, and Programs. Scientists enjoy intellectual freedom and are expected to creatively and innovatively explore the most important questions in the field of cancer research.

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.

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

For additional information about research at CCR, please visit https://ccr.cancer.gov/. For additional information about DCEG, please visit https://dceg.cancer.gov/.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the U.S. at the time of application and on schedule to complete your Ph.D. degree requirements by December the following year.  If you are attending graduate school on an F1 visa, you can still apply for the program.  However, you must be a permanent resident or on a J1 visa at the time of appointment.

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 first create an account on the GSRP Application Website. You can complete the application and upload the required documents (responses to three prompts, CV, and abstract) in multiple sessions; however, you must complete your application by the indicated deadline. Once you submit your application, requests will be e-mailed to your referees. An application is considered complete if it has all of the required components AND 3 letters of recommendation are received. All candidates will be notified regarding the status of their applications.

Graduate Student Recruiting Program Timeline
Activity Date
Application Cycle Opens December 1, 2020
Application Due Date February 12, 2021
Notification of Decision March 12, 2021
GSRP Virtual Conference May 4-5, 2021

What to Expect

Applications will be screened for eligibility and completeness.  You can monitor the status of their application via the application website. Following your acceptance, you can begin scheduling virtual meetings/interviews with NCI PIs.  A list of projects and opportunities will be posted on the application website to facilitate this process. Given the virtual format, meetings are not restricted to the dates of the conference and can occur at a mutually opportune date and time. 

During the GSRP, accepted applicants will present their work during a virtual poster showcase and attend virtual seminars in which they will learn about the science, training, and career development opportunities at NCI and NIH.  Pending NIH travel guidelines, NCI will cover the cost for one 2-day in-person visit for a time of your choosing through August 2021. 

Please see schedule at a glance for an overview of GSRP's virtual seminars that were held the previous year.

Percentages of GSRP participants who pursued a postdoc and other careers

While GSRP does not guarantee a postdoc position, more than 50-70% of the participants receive official interviews as a direct result of the program. Over the last 5 years, 42% of GSRP participants who pursued a postdoc are/have completed their postdoc at the NCI.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am attending graduate school on a F1 visa. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply to the program.  The basic requirement is that you are a student at a US degree granting institution.  However, you should know that you must either be a permanent resident or hold a J1 visa at the time of appointment.

I intend to defend my dissertation in September of next year.  Is it too soon to apply to the program?

No, you must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the time of application in order to be eligible for the program.  You can discuss potential start dates with investigators during your meeting(s), there may be some flexibility. 

What is the benefit of applying to GSRP?

Investigators hold the accepted applicants in high esteem, as they are competitively selected for the program.  In addition, you get the opportunity to meet the PI and members of the laboratory prior to the official interview.  This provides valuable information about the lab, allowing you to determine it the lab is a good fit before accepting an offer.

Does acceptance into the program guarantee me a position at NCI/NIH?

No, acceptance does not guarantee a position.  However, the chances of receiving an offer are higher than if you were to email investigators yourself to inquire about open positions.

Are the meetings with investigators official job interviews?

Perhaps. The structure of your interview is dependent on you and the PI at the time of scheduling.  Most applicants set up 30-60 minute meetings, where they learn about the PI, lab, and possibly meet lab members.  An official interview is typically a half day, where in addition to speaking with the PI and lab members, you also present a job talk.  However, both can take place during the meeting scheduling period through the conference,  Roughly 50-70% of the GSRP applicants go on to have official interviews after the program.  Some even receive job offers immediately following or during the visit!

Contact Information

Questions regarding the NCI Graduate Student Recruiting Program should be directed to the program coordinator:

Program Coordinator
NCI Graduate Student Recruiting Program
Email: ncigsrp@mail.nih.gov

Katherine Choe speaks with a fellow GSRP participant about her research.

Credit: National Cancer Institute

Samuel Pellom discusses his poster with an NCI investigator.

Credit: National Cancer Institute
 
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