SanDiegoSOD

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fakin' the funk

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I did a 1-year postbac IRTA in Bethesda. I actually didn't apply through that application website - sometimes PIs send postings to local universities in the DC area. That's how I got mine.

The experience is phenomenal. I would highly recommend it. I happened to have a good PI what was into teaching and was flexible - a good guy. However I've heard horror stories about PI-IRTA relationships that just don't work out.

The pay is just passable - usually about $2000-2100/mo depending on your undergrad GPA (of all things!). But with the excellent NIH insurance it works out. Plus you get to live in or near DC!
 

randallB

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It's a great program, in my opinion, but I would suggest trying to stay on the Bethesda (main) campus. There are NIH affiliates in Rockville and Baltimore (where I am), and honestly, they're not so great. Anything through NCI (National Cancer Institute) will be a phenomenal experience because of its size, funding and responsibilities. Best of luck!
 

katec12345

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I'm also doing a post-bacc IRTA fellowship right now, and I think it's a very good way to spend a year. I don't love research, I don't love my lab, but I'm learning a lot, and I think it will help me even if this is the last time I ever do research. And I definitely agree with what was said before about having a good PI--makes all the difference! Also, as far as the pay goes, I think $2000/month might be for NCI people....I think I get about $1650 per month? (Somewhere around there, they just deposit into my account.) Our stipend doesn't change with increasing undergrad GPA, which sort of sucks. I find, however, that I can manage on that income, and I live in Washington DC. If you have specific questions, please let me know--I'm not sure what to write here!
 

emorygirl

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...how hard it is to gain a position in the IRTA program, and which types of lab are most selective? i have heard varying things about competetiveness. i have experience as a work-study student in both Emory Med school and the CDC, so i'm familiar with most of the lowest forms of lab drudgery as well as some better stuff (southerns, northerns, pcr) but i'm far from published and i've never had my own project. will i have trouble?

thanks for your help.
 

opinionkitten

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emorygirl said:
...how hard it is to gain a position in the IRTA program, and which types of lab are most selective? i have heard varying things about competetiveness. i have experience as a work-study student in both Emory Med school and the CDC, so i'm familiar with most of the lowest forms of lab drudgery as well as some better stuff (southerns, northerns, pcr) but i'm far from published and i've never had my own project. will i have trouble?

thanks for your help.


easy, depends on the pi i guess but any old irta can be gotten with ease i think
 

evajaclynn

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I worked for the NIH last year in the post bac program in Bethesda. I worked for the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Awesome experience and I highly recommend it to anyone. I worked in the clinic about 90% of the time and in the lab the other 10%.

Since the pay isn't that great, I also got involved in tons of studies there as a healthy volunteer. You can make ~$120 for an hour long MRI. Pretty sweet! :)

Seriously though, I learned so much through this experience - it can't be beat. Of course, I had really great PI's. I had a roommate who didn't have a great experience, so make sure that you research the position that you're getting into before you accept it!
 

evajaclynn

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BTW, don't worry if you don't have much lab experience. They certainly don't expect you to be published. The main website even states that no experience is necessary. Some PI's may appreciate it if you have lab experience, but at the same time, its really not too much effort for them to train you. I only worked there for a year and several papers are currently in the works for publishing - it helps if you get in there and can be part of a big project!
 

daisee82

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I applied through the online website and am an IRTA at the NIH in Bethesda this year and then heading to medical school. It is a great experience and I'm learning so much. For those who want to take more time off, IRTAs can stay for up to 2 years, but not necessarily required to remain in the same lab. I had about half a year's worth of lab experience before this and the PI that hired me into his lab appreciated that, but it's def. not necessary. I'm working in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases branch (NIAID). I agree with the others who said staying on the main campus in Bethesda is better than other campuses in Rockville/Twinbrook or Frederick.
I don't know how competetive it is, but there are TONS of IRTAs here and I got contacted by three PIs before getting this position. Depending on salary, grades, and experience yearly salary differs. IRTAs get paid once a month and for the first year (some IRTAs stay for 2) it's about 1850 a month. And there's def. a possibility of getting published esp. if you start work in the middle of your lab's project so you may actually finish up within the year.
Unless you are really picky of which field you'd like to research in, be flexible in your choices on the application so you can hear from PIs of different labs.
Best of luck. For those who are applying/have applied here's a link to Club PCR which is a yahoo group spec. for NIHers (there are posts for housing, events, etc...) You'll have to create a yahoo account to join the group but hope it's helpful! http://groups.yahoo.com/group/clubpcr/
 

almost over

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I am also an IRTA this year. It's a fairly easy process to apply and the earlier you do it, the more choices you will have in picking the lab you want. Also, you can apply online and then serach the NIH institutes and labs and directly and email PIs whose work sounds interesting and let them know your application is online and you would like to work for them. Be selective though in terms of labs. I have heard some pretty bad stories about people having nothing at all to do. The post-doc in charge of my research left halfway through the year which was really disruptive. It's a great job though and gives you good experience and makes the whole application process easier (most PIs are totally cool with you missing many days during the fall for interviewing)
 

W222

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I was an IRTA for two years at the main NIH campus. If you have the choice definitely chose the NIH Bethesda Main campus because the opportunities are so much better compared to the other campuses. The best thing to do is to apply through the website and get your application in early, now is the best time because PIs are looking for new IRTAs to fill the spots people are leaving in the spring. From my experience, it looks great on a resume to say you worked at the NIH, especially if it was a positive experience with a good PI. I got listed as an author on one paper and will likely be the first author on another. I learned so many things that I am now using in medical school, its was truly excellent preparation. My work involved cell signaling and cancer genetics in a basic science lab and this has all come back to help me in my classes. ANOTHER GREAT THING, about working at the NIH is the fact that you get to see so many famous scientists talk and present their work. Where else could I have seen five Nobel laureates speak or heard about how Glevec was used clinically by its creator? Where else do they have 50-100 scientific talks a week? I loved it there.