NBBTP/IRTA Fellowships Program Eligibility

The National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP)/Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowships are available to U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents of the United States who meet all federal regulations and policies necessary for working with select agents.

Eligibility Requirements

  • U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident
  • Individuals with bachelors, masters, or post-graduate degree(s) in microbiology, public health, medicine (human or veterinary), or other allied sciences (industrial hygiene, engineering, etc.) AND meet one of the following degree criteria:
    • The Fellowship start date is typically the first working day in January after selection.
    • Individuals who received their bachelor’s degrees less than THREE years prior to the NBBTP/IRTA Fellowship start date OR
    • Individuals who are more than three years past receipt of their bachelor’s degree but received a master’s degree less than SIX MONTHS before the NBBTP/IRTA Fellowship start date OR
    • Individuals who have been accepted into graduate or other doctoral, or medical school programs and who have written permission from their school to delay entrance for up to two years to pursue an NBBTP/IRTA Fellowship at the NIH OR
    • Individuals with a doctoral degree (PhD, MD, DDS, or the equivalent) and have no more than five years of relevant research experience since receipt of their most recent doctoral degree.
  • Microbiology and/or research laboratory experience combined with excellent professional performance.
  • Outstanding personal, professional, and academic recommendations.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Proficiency in the English language (for non-native English speakers).*
  • Meet all requirements established under federal regulations & policies necessary to have unescorted access to Select Agents. Successful completion of a Security Risk Assessment (SRA) conducted by the FBI will be required to have unescorted access to Select Agents.
  • Be enrolled in the NIH Biological Surety Program (upon acceptance into the NBBTP/IRTA Fellowship).
  • Successfully complete a Tier 3 background investigation conducted by the NIH Department of Personnel Security and Access Control (DPSAC) and be subject to periodic behavioral health assessments conducted by the NIH Biological Surety Program.
  • Excellent employment history.
  • Participates in academic, professional, and/or civic organizations.
  • Committed to the mission and vision of the NBBTP/IRTA.
  • Submit all required application materials, including references, and academic credentials by the stated deadline.
  • Willing to relocate to the Bethesda, MD area for two years.**
  • Available to travel to participate in multi-week assignments.

Physical Requirements

Participation in this program requires moderate physical activity in assisting with laboratory or other equipment. Walking, stooping, standing, bending, kneeling, and climbing steps. Occasional lifting or carrying of moderately heavy items between 14-44 lbs. and frequently under 15 lbs. is required. Computer work requires long periods of sitting. The work involves performance of surveys and onsite visits to laboratory and maintenance facilities necessitating prolonged periods of walking and standing.

The work environment is often in the office or meeting room setting. There may be instances where evaluations are required in the operations and maintenance or laboratory workplace. Work requires the use of a respirator or PAPR and other personal protective equipment such as hearing, eye, laboratory gloves, gowns, and shoe coverings.

Some outside training and work assignments may have additional minimum physical and protective equipment requirements.

Vaccination may be recommended for certain biological agents utilized in research laboratories at the NIH.


Travel for this position is up to approximately 25% in the first year and possibly up to 50% in the second year of the program.


*English proficiency - All applicants who are not native English speakers are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language. Proficiency can be demonstrated by the receipt of a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction. All other non-native English speakers must achieve at least a minimum score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. TOEFL: A minimum score of 550 (paper-based test) or 213 (computer-based tests) or 80 (iBT test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 7.0 from the International English Language Testing System.

**Due to the demands of the Fellowship training experience, relocating fellows are strongly encouraged to live within a reasonable commuting distance of the National Institutes of Health located in Bethesda, MD.

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