The Training Page

FROM THE FELLOWS COMMITTEE

Helping Visiting Fellows Thrive at the NIH

The quest to solve the world’s most critical biomedical questions is a global venture that has sparked interactions among researchers around the world. Few other institutions make this more evident than the NIH, where nearly half of all postdoctoral fellows are international researchers. It is not always easy for these researchers to uproot themselves from the familiar surroundings of their home countries and start anew. Luckily, the members of the Visiting Fellows Committee (VFC) use their experiences to help other international fellows transition to life at the NIH.

VFC, one of eight Fellows Committee (FelCom) subcommittees, offers valuable resources to international postdocs and even designates country representatives to help newly arrived compatriots. Members also run a brown-bag lunch series at which postdocs can discuss practical issues such as immigration, funding opportunities, and taxes. VFC also organizes a “Science Voices from Home” seminar, which aims to connect all NIH fellows with the international science community and identifies research opportunities abroad. The VFC even has its own quarterly newsletter that highlights activities; funding and research opportunities; NIH alumni; professional-development information; and stories on the postdoc life.

 “VFC really has a strong sense of community, as we are all in the same situation, trying to navigate the social, cultural, and administrative USA. We feel united and help each other [as] others help[ed] us when we arrived,” says VFC co-chair Stephanie Olivier-Van Stichelen (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). The VFC saw a surge in activity last year, thanks to her and co-chair Fatima Ali-Rahmani (National Cancer Institute) and several new VFC members who were determined to improve and promote the organization. (Olivier-Van Stichelen is from France and Ali-Rahmani is from Pakistan.) Members meet frequently for monthly lunches, social networking, and other events like baseball or hockey games, museums, and ice-skating.

“Foreign scientists are often lacking networking opportunities—either because we don’t know anybody in the U.S. or because of language issues,” said Olivier-Van Stichelen. “These events allow us to discuss and socialize with people in the same situation and at the   same time gives us the opportunity to experience the U.S. culture.”


For more information about the VFC or to see how to get involved:

Subscribe to the VFC-L LISTSERV https://list.nih.gov/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A0=vfc-l (login required); check out the VFC websites: http://visitingfellows.tumblr.com or https://www.training.nih.gov/felcom/visitingfellows2; or contact the VFC co-chairs (Stephanie.olivier-vanstichelen@nih.gov or fatima.ali-rahmani@nih.gov).


UPCOMING OITE EVENTS

POSTBACCALAUREATE POSTER DAY
Wed., April 20, 10:00 a.m-.3:30 p.m.
Natcher Conference Center (Bldg 45)
More information: https://www.training.nih.gov/postbac_poster_day.

BUILD YOUR CAREER; SHAPE YOUR FUTURE: NIH CAREER SYMPOSIUM
Friday, May 6, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Natcher Conference Center (Bldg 45)
More information: www.training.nih.gov

SEE ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR MORE DETAILS
http://irp.nih.gov/catalyst/v24i2/announcements