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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

NIMH-UCL Graduate Neuroscience Program

UCL-NIMH Joint Doctoral Training Program in Neuroscience

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible for the UCL-NIMH Program?
Applicants to the program must be U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents and hold or be on track to receive a Bachelor's degree by matriculation date. While the program will consider applications from candidates without research experience outside of their undergraduate degree, the majority of applicants will have a Master’s degree and/or be able to demonstrate a strong research background resulting from a Post baccalaureate or Research Assistant research experience. To meet the academic requirements for entry to the UCL Doctoral School, students must normally have an undergraduate or master’s degree with GPA 3.3 or above with a major in a subject relevant to their proposed studies. Any questions about these requirements should be directed to the program directors.

I understand that I will need to identify mentors from NIH and UCL. 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 UCL-NIMH 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 UCL-NIMH Program.

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

How can I identify a co-mentor from UCL?
As a rule, it’s best to first identify a mentor at NIH. Then, work with your NIH mentor to review potential co-mentors at UCL. However, this program is quite flexible and it may, at times, work well in reverse order. For a listing of current mentor pairings, visit the Faculty page; beyond that feel free to visit the UCL Neuroscience page to review a more expansive faculty list.

How long is the PhD Program?
The PhD should be completed in four years from the date when the student is admitted as a PhD-student at UCL.

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.

How can I keep my mentor and co-mentor coordinated for the successful completion of my PhD dissertation?
The NIH mentor and UCL 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 will 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 copy to mentor, co-mentor, and student) should be established. Reciprocal visits should also be promoted.

Is a stipend provided?
Yes. A stipend is provided for the UCL-NIMH Program. The designated NIH institute will pay the stipend and health benefits for the student during their graduate training. A stipend is paid to graduate students based on the Pre-doctoral Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) schedule throughout the duration of the program. For current NIH Pre-doctoral IRTA stipend levels, please see: https://www.training.nih.gov/predoctoral_irta_stipend_levels. The NIH mentor is responsible for the stipend, medical insurance via FAES and travel benefits.

NIMH oversees the administrative management of this joint PhD program. NIMH charges no overhead for these administrative services; however, the mentor’s institute must provide stipend, tuition, 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 UCL as well as scientific meetings/conferences for training purposes and UCL 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 UCL 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 UCL 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 UCL charge tuition or laboratory fees to students or their mentors?
Yes, UCL charges tuition fees for graduate students over the course of the 4 year program. All tuition fees are covered by the mentor or NIH institute in which you will pursue your graduate research.

How can I arrange housing in Bethesda and London?
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. In London, there are several options for graduate student accommodation. Many students live in halls of residence, at least for the first year. There are several halls of residence to consider for graduate students on the UCL Accommodation page as well as details on private housing providers. The UCL Accommodation team is available to help find accommodation at UCL and provide additional details about living expenses and other considerations.

Generally, students tend to find housing on referrals from fellow students or via personal searching on internet sites. More information on UCL housing can be found on the UCL Accommodation page or by contacting the UCL Accommodation team directly at accommodation@ucl.ac.uk.

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 UCL-NIMH 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.

Who can I contact for additional questions about this program?
The UCL-NIMH Partnership has Directors at both the NIH and UCL. The NIH Program Director is Janet Clark, PhD (Janet.Clark@nih.gov) and the UCL Program Director is Jonathan Roiser, PhD (j.roiser@ucl.ac.uk). For administrative and application inquiries please contact Aneka Reid (aneka.reid@nih.gov).