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KI-NIH Collaborative Doctoral Program in Neuroscience

Frequently Asked Questions

I understand that I will need to identify mentors from NIH, and KI. Where can I find a list of potential mentors at NIH? Can I contact them directly?

NIH has a large number of postdoctoral trainees but a relatively small number of graduate students. For this reason, scientists at NIH are eager to hear from potential graduate students, and almost all are happy to provide advice and guidance. Feel free to contact them, probably initially by email. Before you contact them, review their lab web sites and some recent publications. About 20% of the NIH faculty have identified themselves as neuroscientists and provide a brief description of their research at Neuroscience @ NIH .

Please email or call them with information about yourself, your interests, and whether they may be interested in being a mentor to you in this NIH- KI program. If they do not currently have space in their lab for a graduate student, ask them to recommend other mentors. Please refer them to this web page for further description of the program. Finally, if the faculty member clearly has interest in the program, s/he must be aware of their obligations as a mentor (see NIH Mentoring FAQ ). Please have mentors contact Dr. Janet Clark for information regarding the NIH mentor’s financial responsibilities for a student in the NIH KI Program.

See “A Guide to Training and Mentoring in the Intramural Program at NIH.” 

How can I identify a co-mentor from KI?

As a rule, it’s best to first identify a mentor at NIH. Then, working with your NIH mentor, review potential co-mentors at KI. However, this program is quite flexible and it may, at times, work well in reverse order. Faculty at the following KI Neuroscience Departments  are the most likely to be co-mentors:

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology 

Department of Clinical Neuroscience 

Department of Laboratory Medicine 

Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics 

Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics 

Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society 

Department of Neuroscience 

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology 

Department of Women's and Children's Health 

Institute of Environmental Medicine 

How long is the PhD Program?

The PhD should be completed in four, but no more than five, years from the date when the student is admitted as a PhD-student at KI.

How much time should I spend at each institution?

As a general goal, the student should spend approximately half their time at each institute, however, a minimum of 18 months should be spent at each institute. To maintain funding from NIH throughout the four to five years of training, at least 51% of the student’s time must be at the NIH. This time could certainly include large blocks (e.g., 1-2 years to complete a major component of the work), as well as shorter visits to complete smaller experimental components at one institution or to take courses.

How can I keep my mentor and co-mentor coordinated for the successful completion of my PhD dissertation?

The NIH mentor and KI co-mentor will agree to serve in this capacity after a specific research plan is proposed and both endorse the merit and utility of such a project as a joint collaboration between labs. The research plan should outline what components of the project to be performed at each institution with a proposed timeline of effort. To enhance communication, regular telephone conference calls, skype meetings and/or routine emails (with a copy to mentor, co-mentor, and student) should be established. Reciprocal visits should also be promoted.

Is a stipend provided?

A stipend is provided for the NIH-KI Program. Students who enter the graduate program through the NIH will be financially supported by their respective NIH institute and students who enter through the KI will be financially supported by KI. A stipend paid by a Pre-doctoral Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) is provided to students who enter through NIH admission. For current NIH Predoctoral IRTA stipend levels, please see  . Small incremental increases to IRTA stipends are scheduled for subsequent years upon approval at the NIH executive level. The NIH mentor is responsible for the stipend, medical insurance via FAES  , and travel benefits. NIH mentors supporting graduate students in this program are expected to provide travel funding for required trips between the NIH and KI as well as scientific meetings and program symposia.

As of 2010, NIMH assumed from the central Graduate Partnerships Program the administrative management of this joint PhD program. NIMH charges no overhead for these administrative services; however, the mentor’s institute must provide stipend, health insurance, and travel.

Are funds provided to support travel?

Yes. NIH mentors supporting graduate students in this program are expected to provide travel funding. Travel funds are to be applied toward required trips between the NIH and KI as well as scientific meetings/conferences for training purposes and KI program symposia. All graduate students in the program must ensure that they follow their respective institutes policy on obtaining the appropriate travel authorization for any intended travel. Some institutes in addition to stipend, provide up to $4,000 per annum for travel between the two institutions but again this is an important factor to discuss with your selected NIH mentor.

Travel arrangements between NIH and KI are arranged for students by the NIH Administrative Officers (AOs) of their respective mentor within the designated institute. All travel done while on a Pre-Doc IRTA fellowship at the NIH must receive pre-approval and clearance prior to the student beginning their travel to KI or back to the NIH. No personal funds should be committed at any point for travel accommodations (flights, hotel, conference registration fees, etc.) without approval since that is considered an illegal purchase and will not be reimbursed.

Does KI charge tuition or laboratory fees to students or their mentors?

No, as a national university of Sweden, KI does not charge tuition for PhD-students.

How can I arrange housing in Bethesda and Stockholm?

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) has assembled a helpful Moving Guide  for individuals transitioning to the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area. Please check out the guide for information on housing and general resources local to the area. Housing at KI is generally off campus and can be arranged through the KI Housing  page. The KI Housing team generally recommends that students submit an application for housing as soon as possible for consideration since spots fill up quickly. Feel free to view Accommodation Tips  for students to stay informed on KI housing and important updates.

Does the NIH have a graduate student activities office?

The Office of Intramural Training & Education  (OITE) has developed a robust number of workshops, seminars and courses to enhance the graduate student experience at NIH. Graduate students at NIH (about 500 and growing) are encouraged to utilize OITE services to help them navigate to the next career step. Additionally, the NIH Graduate Student Council  (GSC) is another resource that is available to address and represent the needs of the graduate community. The GSC serves as a communication pathway for students and drives several activities which include efforts in Community Service, Socials, The Graduate Student Research Symposium and much more.

Many of the NIH institutes have Training Offices which also provide numerous career and professional development workshops and seminars as well as career guidance. Please visit the Intramural Training Office Program Contacts  for more information.

Students accepted into the NIH-KI Program will be invited and are welcome to attend Career and Professional Development Seminars and Workshops that are offered by the NIMH IRP Office of Fellowship Training.

What are the requirements for PhD Degree at KI?

A full description of the rules and requirements for obtaining a PhD degree from KI can be found here: . In brief, doctoral education at KI is to a great extent based on the doctoral student's individual research project, which is complemented with a specific knowledge requirement with a minimum of 30 higher education credits (HECs) of classroom work (i.e., courses or other relevant activities such as, e.g. active participation at international research conferences or attendance at seminar series). One full week of classroom work: approximately 9 AM–5 PM, Monday through Friday is defined as 1.5 credits (equivalent to three US graduate credits). In addition, a compulsory introduction course that does not account for any credits needs to be completed within the first year after admission. Please see KI's Course Catalogue  for courses offered at KI. The NIH also offers many courses that can substitute for the core and elective courses at KI. However, the substitution needs to be approved by the Director of Doctoral Education at the KI department where the PhD student is admitted. Courses at NIH are available via FAES .

The student's research project should be presented in a written doctoral thesis. Most theses from KI are cumulative theses, based on a number of separate original papers (not reviews). One of the constituent papers can be a systematic survey article, for example a meta-analysis. The requirement for such an article is that it creates new knowledge. At least half of the constituent papers, which are included in the cumulative thesis, must have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The number of constituent papers in a thesis varies, but they must have a scope and quality that in total, in the opinion of the Examination Board at KI, is equivalent to four years of full-time doctoral education.

The rules and regulations for doctoral education at KI are updated on a regular basis. For the latest updates, please visit .

What does a thesis look like?

KI posts all accepted theses at a public web site. You are welcome to review any theses from our students. For more information, please visit 

Who can I contact for additional questions about this program?

The KI-NIH Partnership has Directors at both the NIH and KI. The NIH Director is Janet Clark, PhD ( and the NIH Program Administrator is Aneka Reid ( . The KI Academic Coordinators are Lise-Lotte Vedin, PhD ( and Sarah Bergen, PhD (