Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds

To recruit and retain health professionals from disadvantaged backgrounds to conduct clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by providing for the repayment of educational loans for participants with substantial amounts of educational debt relative to income, who agree by written
contract to engage in clinical research as employees of the NIH for a minimum two-year period.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Clinical and basic research to evaluate the use of a PET imaging agent, Tc-94m sestamibi, which will allow greater resolution and quantitation and thereby make direct quantitative comparisons of tumor uptake before and after treatment with antagonists possible.

Clinical and basic research designed to develop better methods for detection, prevention and therapy for patients with kidney cancer.

Research on the molecular genetics and protein chemistry of tumor suppressor genes and in particular, the VHL gene; and studies into the treatment of adult solid tumors, and laboratory research projects in tumor immunology and morphology.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Website Address

Program Accomplishments

Eight contracts were awarded in fiscal year 2007. It is projected that 7 awards will be made in fiscal year 2008, and 7 awards are projected in fiscal year 2009.

Uses and Use Restrictions

To provide repayment of extant educational loans incurred by health professionals engaged, as employees of the NIH, in clinical research.

Recipients must agree by written contract to engage in such research, initially, for a minimum of 2 years; individuals who have conflicting service obligations may not participate in this program until those obligations are satisfied or have been deferred during the period of program service.

One-year continuation contracts are available, dependent upon the level of debt and continued involvement in clinical research.

Maximum program benefit is $35,000 per year in loan repayments and $13,650 per year in Federal tax reimbursements.

Recipients must have qualified educational debt in excess of 20 percent of their annual salary, which is referred to as their "debt threshold." An amount equal to half of this "debt threshold" will not be repaid by NIH and must be paid by the Program participants.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Eligible applicants must: (1) Be a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States; (2) possess a M.D., Ph.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M., D.P.M., A.D.N., B.S.N., or equivalent degree; or hold the position of Physician Assistant; (3) come from a disadvantaged background as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services; (4) have qualified educational debt, which results from governmental or commercial loans obtained to support their undergraduate and/or graduate education, in excess of 20 percent of their annual NIH salary on the program eligibility date; (5) be appointed under any temporary or permanent employment mechanism in the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, so long as their employment has the potential to last a minimum of 2 years; (6) are not eligible to participate in the CR-LRP if they have an existing service obligation to Federal, State, or other entities, until such obligation is discharged or unless it is deferred during the period of program service; (7) submit an application to participate in the CR-LRP; and (8) sign and submit to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, at the time of agreeing to accept repayment of educational loans, a contract agreeing to engage in clinical research as an employee of the NIH for a minimum of 2 years.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Clinical researchers from disadvantaged backgrounds who have unpaid educational loans will benefit from this program.


Applicants must submit documentation of the following, as appropriate: (1) Copies of loan applications and agreements from governmental or commercial educational loans which are being submitted for repayment; (2) copies of the standard student budget from each school attended during period when debt was incurred; (3) copies of recommendations, special skills, certifications, or other copies of loan documentation; (4) certification from the school(s) attended that the applicant qualified for participation in an educational assistance program for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds which are sponsored by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or self-certification describing circumstances which qualify him/her under the Secretary's definition of an individual from a disadvantaged background; and (5) other documentation as may be required by law.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Applicants must access and submit the Loan Repayment Program application electronically via the website; seek qualified employment with a sponsoring Institute or Center (IC) of the NIH. Once an application has been submitted, the Loan Repayment Committee reviews it at a regularly scheduled review meeting and a determination of loan repayment recipients is made.

Award Procedures

The NIH Loan Repayment Committee (LRC) will review, rank, and approve or disapprove applications recommended for program participation by each Institute or Center (IC). Applications approved for program participation by the LRC will be notified by the Program Director. The Secretary, or his designee, will sign the service contract of program participants, provide a copy to the participant, and notice of the amount of approved loan repayment.


Review the Loan Repayment Program website, or contact the Headquarters Office listed below for the application deadlines.


Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Subtitle D, Part G, Section 1631, Public Law 103-43, 107 Stat. 185, 42 U.S.C. 288-5, Public Law 105-392.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

The approximate time for approval/disapproval is 3 months.


Employees of the NIH who are not approved as a result of this process may ask for reconsideration through the standard appeal procedures available to employees.


At the conclusion of the initial 2-year contract, participants may apply and be recommended for subsequent 1-year continuation contracts under the application and approval procedures specified above.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula or matching requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Assistance is available for a minimum 2-year period. One-year, continuation contracts are available for individuals whose educational debt exceeds the maximum repayable amount for 2 years and whose renewal ranking scores within the funding range. Payments are made directly to lenders, following each quarter of the participant's satisfactory service, unless otherwise agreed upon by the participant and Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Post Assistance Requirements


Program participants must be certified periodically to have satisfactorily performed the duties of their positions.




The NIH will maintain applicant records for 3 years after rejection and participant records for 6 years after completion of final service obligation.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Loan Repayments) FY 07 $300,070; FY 08 est $360,724; and FY 09 est 360,724.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

For initial 2-year contracts, loan repayments range from $68,000 to $70,000, Tax reimbursements range from $36,000 to $40,000. The average contract cost which includes loan and tax reimbursement is $109,350.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Pertinent information is contained in Public Law 103-43, Section 1631; Section 487E of Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288-5); Public Law 105-392; Federal Register, Volume 59, No. 201, October 19, 1994; 42 CFR Part 68a Federal Register, Volume 63, No. 210, October 30, 1998.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

Program and Business Contact: Patricia A. Cole, Ph.D., Director Intramural Loan Repayment Programs, National Institutes of Health, Building 2, Room 2E18, 2 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-0230. LRP Helpline Telephone: (866) 849-4047. Facsimile: (866) 849-4046. Email: .

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Applicants are approved for participation in the NIH Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program after the LRC determines that the applicant will conduct qualified clinical research and qualifies as being from a disadvantaged background. LRC approval, in part, is based upon the scientific merit of the research and the credentials of the applicant as they relate to performing qualified clinical research.

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