ISO NIH Program Officer

So – I keep harping on how wonderful program officers/officials are at the NIH and how you need to become best friends with one. But if you don’t already have a, shall we say, committed & long-term relationship with anyone in Bethesda/Rockville (et al.), how do you find the “one”? Not through e-Harmony … but through the various IC (institute & center) sites themselves. Each includes a list of program officials (with contact info) broken down by branch and/or area of interest. You can read these personals to see who looks like a good match.

For example, at NICHD, you would check out the overview of extramural research first. Then you would click on the Center or Branch/Division that likely covers your research area (& there could be more than one – polygamous relationships allowed!). As a hypothetical, suppose your area of work falls under the Reproductive Sciences Branch. You will find lists of program areas in the center column of the site, with a compilation of relevant reports, funding opportunitiess, links, etc. on the far right column (global site navigation aids on the left). You could then check the more detailed description and lead program official for a program area, such as Reproductive Genetics/Epigenetics … or maybe you are looking to see which institutions are members of a specific consortium or network or center grant program. Even better, you can look at the grant awards funded (title, #, PI, location) in a given year and see which program officer manages which funded project. Very enlightening.

Other ICs handle this differently. At NINDS, you would select Program Areas from the Funding & Research section of the Website and then click on the “Funding Announcements and General Information link for a matching research interest, such as Neurodegeneration (tell me about it). Here, you get the current & archived funding announcements, all relevant reports & conferences, and then finally at the very bottom (keep scrolling), the list of program officers. Clicking on individual names gives their scientific training and research interests as well as their portfolio coverage.

Of course, with something like neurodegeneration, you would do well to check for like-minded program officers at NIA (Neuroscience & Neuropsychology), NIEHS (neurodegeneration falls under Cellular, Organ, & Systems Pathobiology), NINR (Neuroscience program – possibly also Long-Term Care), NIMH (Divisions of Neuroscience and Adult Translational Research), and probably several more.

So go forth & explore the potential matches awaiting you throughout the ICs of the NIH. Could be the most rewarding effort you’ll make to find that special someone with similar interests & values who likewise wants to make you one of “their” PIs.


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