T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T      M A R C H   -  A P R I L   2000



Philip Chen

Dear Just Ask:

A Chinese graduate student would like to do his thesis research in my lab for a Ph.D. from his university in China. Can I bring him here on a J-1 visa as a research associate at a salary appropriate for a graduate student? If not, how do we do it?

Edward Korn, NHLBI

Dear Ed:

We have a program—the Predoctoral Visiting Fellow Program—established specifically for the purpose you mention. It’s a predoctoral training program for students enrolled in doctoral programs in non-U.S. universities and is a collaborative effort etween NIH and the Molecular and Cell Biology Program (MOCB) at the University of Maryland in College Park. The student comes to the United States on an F-1 Student Visa sponsored by the university, and NIH pays the university to run the program for us.

Students are registered for at least one year at the university as Advanced Special Students while they are participating in research in NIH laboratories; NIH scientists serve also as teachers, advisors, and mentors.

To be eligible for the program, students must be enrolled in a doctoral training program in the biomedical sciences. To apply, a student submits a letter of intent to the MOCB Program, as well as a formal application to the Graduate School for admission as an Advanced Special Student. Items that must be submitted with the application include:

At least two letters of recommendation from professional or academic references.

An official graduate school transcript.

A statement of professional goals, areas of research interests, and the objectives to be accomplished during the training.

A report of the score obtained by the applicant on the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination.

Selection is competitive and based on evaluations by staff at both the University of Maryland and NIH. Those accepted into the program will receive a stipend and are eligible for health benefits and a tuition remission.

Application materials should be submitted by:

February 1, for admission in the summer semester.

May 1, for admission in the fall semester.

November 1, for admission in the spring semester.

For additional information, contact the MOCB Program, Microbiology Building, Room 1123, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, U.S.A.; phone: (301) 405-8422; fax: (301) 314-9921; e-mail: <LP101@umail.umd.edu>. You can also check the web site at

–Philip S. Chen, Jr.
Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director for Intramural Research


On Lectures at NIH

In the November-December 1998 issue of The NIH Catalyst, Michael Gottesman encouraged us to "make space" in our schedules for activities that broaden our scientific horizons. He specifically recommended attending lectures. However, in trying to implement his excellent suggestion, I am disheartened by the overcomplexity of many—perhaps most—lectures I attend.

I find it extremely frustrating to spend an hour or so of my valuable time only to find slides that are overly complex or a presentation that seems geared to the handful of people who are as up on the literature of that subject as the speaker! Perhaps I am too specialized. I could prepare by reading pertinent literature—but I don’t have time for that! Shouldn’t the hour I spend in the seminar be enough to learn the background, the research, and its implications? Perhaps I have an attention problem. But our minds drift naturally in even more dramatic presentations than a typical scientific talk. Some speakers seem more concerned with showing people how much work they’ve been doing than in presenting a clear message that is understood by a general scientific audience! I want to scream in agony whenever I hear a speaker "apologize" for a complex slide or go over time just to squeeze in some more data! The end result for me is that I don’t attend as many lectures as I would like. Hence, I don’t learn as much as I would like.

Can anything be done about these overspecialized lectures? As a listener, how can I get the most out of a presentation? As a speaker, what should I do to give a good talk? I think it would be a good investment of our time to "make space" for improving lectures we give and attend.

David Belnap, NIAMS

–See the DDIR’s response "Giving a Scintillating Scientific Talk."




Return to Table of Contents