Applications for 2022 entry are open until mid-May
The National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program is an accelerated, individualised doctoral training programme for outstanding science students committed to biomedical research careers.
The NIH OxCam Scholars Program is only open to US citizens.
In 2002 three institutions came together to offer a collaborative 4-year PhD programme, (with the option to combine this with an MD at a US Medical School). Students in the NIH OxCam Scholars Program work with two supervisors: one in England, either at the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford, and the other at an NIH laboratory in the USA. Students spend two years (6 terms) at the NIH and two years (6 terms) at either the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford, working on a project that involves a collaborative undertaking by the two laboratories. The terms spent in each place are agreed between the student and supervisors according to the requirements of the student’s project. There is some flexibility around the number of terms spent in either location, but a minimum of three terms MUST be spent in Cambridge to meet the University’s residency requirement for a PhD. Additional terms in Cambridge will require funding approval from the NIH directors in the USA.
NIH Cambridge Projects
Investigators at the University of Cambridge have voluntarily offered collaborative project ideas for NIH OxCam Scholars. The list of projects can be found here.
For a quick guide to the University of Cambridge list, see the spreadsheet here.
Projects are available to help candidates efficiently identify a research collaboration. Candidates are encouraged to approach Principle Investigators (PIs) directly. You can contact the Programme Administrator, email@example.com, for more information about PI’s in Cambridge.
The majority of students are based in departments in the School of Clinical Medicine or the School of Biological Sciences. Occasionally, a student will be based in the Department of Engineering or the Department of Chemistry. The departments’ websites provide information on their current research and are a useful information source for students who already know the area of research they plan to pursue.
The student’s host PI (principal investigator) /department in Cambridge will be asked to make a small one-off financial contribution at the outset of the programme towards the cost of the University fees. The Postgraduate Education Office in the Clinical School can advise. (The exception to this request is where an OxCam scholar has been awarded a Gates or other scholarship which will cover 100% of the University fees.)
The host research group or department will have to cover the cost of consumables.
PI Ambassadors are also available to provide advice and guidance to help candidates select the most appropriate University of Cambridge PI for their area of research interest. Candidates are encouraged to make direct contact with any of the Ambassadors listed below or with the Postgraduate Education Office in the Clinical School who can facilitate an introduction.
Professor Menna Clatworthy, Professor of Translational Immunology (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology) Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Clare Bryant, Professor of Innate Immunity (School of Veterinary Medicine) email@example.com
Professor Paul Pharoah, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology, (Dept. of Public Health & Primary Care) firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Folma Buss, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology (Cambridge Institute of Medical Research) email@example.com
How to apply
Applications for the OxCam Scholars Program must be made via the NIH website in the USA. Candidates can apply to the NIH for either the standard 4-year PhD or for the MD PhD.
The NIH application portal is open from 1st August to 1st December each year and invitations for interview are sent out in mid-January. Interviews are held in February.
If you receive an offer from the NIH and you would like to study at the University of Cambridge, please submit an application via the University’s Postgraduate Admissions website. You can search for the OxCam course by entering ‘NIH’ into the course directory under the ‘Courses’ tab and having ticked ‘doctoral’ for the level. Alternatively, you can apply directly to the department of your area of research interest, i.e. Oncology, Clinical Neurosciences, Psychiatry, Bioengineering, Biochemistry, etc. The application process is explained here.
Applications for Cambridge open on 1st September every year. Deadlines for the majority of PhD subjects will be in mid-May. But if you also wish to apply for another scholarship in Cambridge, such as Gates (see below), the deadline will be much earlier and you should submit an application as soon as possible (it will coincide with your application to the NIH for the OxCam Program and you may be informed of the outcome in Cambridge before you hear from the NIH).
Other opportunities for NIH-Cambridge scholarships
The NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program collaborates with a number of other University of Cambridge scholarship schemes, including Gates and Cambridge Trust. To be considered for these scholarships you must apply to the Cambridge course of your choice, through the University application portal, by the funding deadline. Some of these deadlines are very early (the Gates deadline for US candidates is mid-October, for example). Therefore, a Cambridge application for a PhD plus scholarship funding will coincide with your NIH OxCam application.
Your Cambridge application will be considered by potential supervisor(s) and postgraduate directors and administrators in the course department and if you are successful you may be nominated for consideration by Gates, Cambridge Trust and other University funding streams. See here for further information.
NB: If you are successful with your application to the NIH OxCam programme and have also been awarded a Gates or Cambridge Trust scholarship, and wish to accept the offer of a place in Cambridge, which can be jointly-funded, the Postgraduate Education Office in the Clinical School will arrange for your Cambridge application record to be amended to the NIH OxCam PhD in your subject. This is explained in the Applicants Guide available in the section below.
The NIH OxCam Scholars – Cambridge Guide 2022, provides information on how to submit your application to Cambridge. The Guide is updated in Spring each year.