The major source of funding for the Pittsburgh Biomedical Informatics Training Program is a grant from the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) also sponsors two dental informatics trainees per year.
The information below summarizes the eligibility requirements and the stipend levels for trainees who are supported by NLM and NIDCR training grant funds.
NLM and NIDCR Trainee Eligibility Requirements
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) requires that a funded fellow be either a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. Permanent Resident. Pending U.S. Permanent Residency cannot be accepted nor will a letter from an immigration lawyer stating such status. NLM rules are very specific regarding who can and who cannot be funded. If you are not in possession of an I551 Resident Alien Card, we can only accept one of two other items as proof of a permanent residency status: either (1) an I485 U.S. Immigration form stating specifically that the “Notice of Action” grants approval of U.S. Permanent Residency, or (2) a Stamp #I551 on your passport that states “Temporary Evidence of U.S. Permanent Residency”. Without one of these three items (an I551 Resident Alien Card, an approved I485 U.S. Immigration form, or a Stamp #I551 on your passport), the Pittsburgh Medical Informatics Training Program cannot offer funding. Thus if you are not a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident, you must be self-funded or request/obtain funding from other sources (see Non NLM or NIDR Training Support below).
- Predoctoral Trainees
Predoctoral Trainees must have received a baccalaureate degree by the beginning date of their trainee appointment, and must be training at the postbaccalaureate level in a program leading to the PhD in science or in an equivalent research doctoral degree program. Health-professional students who wish to interrupt their studies for a year or more to engage in full-time research training before completing their professional degrees are also eligible.
- Postdoctoral Trainees
Postdoctoral trainees must have received, as of the beginning date of their trainee appointment, a PhD, MD, or comparable doctoral degree (i.e., DO, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, DrPH, DNSc) from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. Written certification by an authorized individual of the degree-granting institution that all degree requirements have been met, prior to the date of training to begin, is acceptable.
- Short-Term Health Professional Trainees
To be eligible for short-term research training positions, health-professional students must have completed at least one quarter in a program leading to a clinical doctorate prior to participating in the program. Individuals matriculated in a formal research degree program or those holding a MS, a PhD, or a MD/PhD degree or equivalent graduate level research degree are not eligible for short-term training positions. Within schools of pharmacy, only individuals who are candidates for the PharmD degree are eligible for short-term positions.
Short-term positions should be longer than two months but may not last longer than three months. Students should be encouraged to obtain two or more periods of short-term research training during their studies leading to a health professional degree. Such appointments may be consecutive or may be reserved for summers or other “off-quarter” periods.
Duration of Support
Institutional research training grants may be made for periods up to five years and are renewable. Postdoctoral trainees pursuing a Master’s degree are usually offered funding for two consecutive years; trainees pursuing doctoral degrees are usually offered funding for three consecutive years; any additional funding would be considered on an individual basis with the procurement of a waiver from the director of the awarding component at the NIH. Trainee appointments are normally made in 12-month increments with support for additional years dependent on satisfactory progress and the continued availability of funds.
No trainee may be appointed for less than nine months during the initial period of appointment, except with the prior approval of the NIH awarding unit or when health-professional students are appointed to approved, short-term research training positions. No individual trainee may receive more than five years of aggregate trainee support at the predoctoral level or three years of aggregate trainee support at the postdoctoral level, including any combination of support from institutional training grants and individual fellowship awards. Any exception to the total duration of trainee support at either the predoctoral or postdoctoral level requires a waiver from the director of the awarding component at the NIH. The grounds for approving extension of support can be found in the current Guidelines for National Research Service Awards for Individual Awards and Institutional Grants.
National Research Service Awards (NRSA) provide funds, in the form of stipends, to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. A stipend is provided as a subsistence allowance for trainees to help defray living expenses during the research training experience. It is not provided as a condition of employment with either the Federal Government or the awardee institution.
Predoc stipends - beginning July 1, 2012:
First year of NLM predoctoral support, regardless of experience: $22,032 for any bachelor's degree or master's degree in any field, the same as year 1 NRSA level. NLM will provide up to 5 years of support for a predoctoral trainee. The NLM predoc stipend is based on NLM-funded predoc experience. All NLM first-year predocs receive the same amount. In their second year of NLM funding, all predocs receive the same amount, etc., as indicated in the table. Predocs at experience levels 2 through 5 who did not begin their predoctoral training with NLM support must begin at experience level 1. A total of 5 years of NLM trainee support is permitted, which can be divided between predoc and post-doc support. If a predoc is supported for 5 years, no additional NLM training support can be provided to that trainee.
Years of Predoc Experience
Postdoc stipends:First year of support: based on prior years of postdoc experience. For each subsequent year of support: add one year of experience. No additional cost of living increases are permitted. Up to 3 years of NLM support is permitted for a postdoc. NLM trainees are exempt from NRSA payback requirement. For MDs, internship/residency counts as qualifying experience.
Years of Postdoc Experience
Non-NLM (and Non-NIDCR) Training Support
Funding is occasionally available from individual faculty research grants and funded projects (Graduate Student Researcher) for which an applicant's background and training may be considered suitable for bringing technical experience to the project. All attempts will be made to find funding for applicants who request funding support at the time of application submission (a number of applicants do not request funding because they have procured support from another institution or organization).
Not all of those accepted into the Pittsburgh Biomedical Informatics Training Program can be offered financial support. Presently about half of our trainees receive funding from the Training Program and half are “self-funded.” For those needing information on the costs of self-funding, please refer to the University of Pittsburgh website for tuition rates and fees. Look under the School of Medicine Graduate School costs (in 2010, a tuition rate of $17,660/year for Pennsylvania residents, and $30,208/year for Out-of-State residents; plus fees). For international students (non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. Permanent Residents), in addition, in 2004, the Office of International Services of the University of Pittsburgh has estimated (and require for visa purposes) proof of an additional and approximate $12,500 to cover the cost of living expenses (apartment, food, health insurance, etc) in Pittsburgh.
Information on educational loans for graduate students can be found at: www.oafa.pitt.edu/stafford.aspx
DBMI Graduate Students