NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/FIC/      

John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences: Research Programs


In collaboration with NIAID, NICHD, and other NIH institutes, the FIC AIDS International and Training Research Program enables U.S. universities and other institutions to provide HIV/AIDS-related research training to scientists and health professionals from developing nations and to forge collaborative ties with research institutions in countries impacted by the AIDS virus. The program focuses on prevention of HIV transmission.

In collaboration with NIEHS and CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and National Center for Environmental Health, the International Training and Research Program in Environmental and Occupational Health funds nonprofit public or private institutions to support international training and research programs in general environmental and occupational health for foreign health scientists, clinicians, epidemiologists, toxicologists, engineers, industrial hygenists, chemists and allied health workers.

In cooperation with NICHD, the FIC International and Training Research Program in Population and Health funds U.S. nonprofit public or private institutions to support population-related sciences research.

The FIC, in collaboration with NIAID, funds nonprofit public or private institutions to support the International Training and Research Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases. NIDR also has contributed resources to this program, which aims to: train scientists and health care workers from developing nations in research, control, and prevention strategies; facilitate collaboration; and enhance domestic research programs in emerging and reemerging infectious diseases.

FIC is also the U.S. Government’s organi-zational focus for the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Program, an inter-agency effort to integrate improvement of human health through drug discovery, incentives for conservation of biodiversity, and new models of sustainable economic activity through research and capacity-building programs in biodiveristy-rich developing countries. The program is funded and maintained jointly by NIH, the National Science Foundation, and the Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA.

In collaboration with NLM, the FIC supports and International Training Program in Medical Informatics. The program, which has an initial focus on Subsaharan Africa, aims to build the capacity of biomedical scientists, clinicians, librarians, and other health professionals in developing countries to access, utilize, and construct computer-based tools such as automated libraries, online communication, databases, and analytical software that may best advance biomedical research and public health in those countries.

International Training Program in Medical Informatics

In cooperation with the NIH Office of Research on Minority Health, FIC has established a Minority International Research Training Program to provide international educational training and research opportunities to groups underrepresented in the scientific professions. Training grants are provided to U.S. colleges and universities, including consortia with minority representation, to stimulate students to pursue scientific careers by enhancing their undergraduate and graduate training through international experiences. Awards are provided to faculty members to conduct independent research and to serve as mentors to students abroad.

A small grants program, the Fogarty International Research Collaboration Awards, or FIRCA, is offered to U.S. institutions for collaboration between U.S. principal investigators on regular NIH research grants and scientists in Africa, Asia (except Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan), Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the non-U.S. Caribbean, the Middle East, and Pacific Ocean Islands (except Australia and New Zealand). The FIRCA provides funds for supplies and equipment necessary to the collaborative research project (for the foreign collaborator’s laboratory only), and funds for travel for the U.S. principal investigator, the foreign researcher, and/or associates. A similar award, the HIV/AIDS and Related Illnesses Collaboration Award, provides small grants in support of cooperative research between NIH grant recipients and foreign institutions throughout the world.


Fellowship programs administered by the FIC enable foreign scientists to pursue their research interests in U.S. laboratories and, conversely, provide opportunities for U.S. researchers to work in foreign laboratories. The International Research Fellowship Program enables promising postdoctoral biomedical or behavioral scientists from developing and emerging nations to gain further research experience by working in the laboratory of a distinguished U.S. scientist on a problem of mutual interest.

The Senior International Fellowship Program provides opportunities for mid- and senior-career level U.S. scientists to conduct biomedical research studies at foreign institutions. The fellowship is intended to enhance the exchange of ideas and information in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Several foreign countries support fellowships that enable U.S. biomedical researchers who hold doctoral degrees to spend up to a year in a foreign research laboratory. The FIC is involved in the initial stages of these programs, but the funding and administration is by the foreign country. The FIC publicizes the availability of postdoctoral research fellowships from the Israeli Ministry of Health, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Japanese Science and Technology Agency, the Swedish Medical Research Council, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, and the National Science Council in Taiwan. The FIC also arranges for receipt and technical merit review of applications and transmits the applications and reviewers’ comments to the awarding country for final selection.

International Relations

The FIC serves as the coordinating link between NIH and other U.S. agencies, foreign governments and international organizations on international biomedical research matters. It is responsible for the administrative oversight of all intergovernmental agreements in which the NIH participates.

The center also fosters and facilitates international cooperation in biomedical research by disseminating information on foreign biomedical research activities to the NIH research institutes and informing foreign agencies and institutions, including WHO, about the international activities of the NIH; initiating, developing and supporting, in cooperation with other NIH offices, new activities to address international health problems; preparing background materials for NIH senior staff participation in international meetings and discussions; providing advice to the director and deputy director, NIH, and to senior staff of the NIH research institutes on policies and procedures relating to international activities; assisting the institutes by obtaining clearances for awards requiring State Department approval and by interpreting DHHS and State Department procedures relating to international travel; serving as a channel for communications to and from U.S. embassies abroad and foreign embassies in Washington; and coordinating responses to inquiries on international issues.

The FIC ensures that NIH interests are represented as new opportunities for research collaboration in the life sciences arise through initiatives of the U.S. Government, foreign governments, multilateral and international organizations.

In its role as a WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Biomedicine, the FIC provides research fellowships and grants, conducts studies, and sponsors workshops involving the NIH, WHO, PAHO and U.S. and foreign biomedical research organizations to identify and further strengthen the health of the U.S. population and contribute to the enhancement of health worldwide.

As the NIH focus of international activities, the FIC has both an integrative and administrative role in activities supported by other PHS components and other Federal agencies. The FIC is the NIH representative in maintaining liaison with such international organizations as WHO, PAHO, the European Union, and the European Medical Research Councils.

The FIC director meets regularly with international representatives of the NIH ICD’s to exchange information and views on NIH international activities and to discuss implementation of related policies and procedures.

International Services Branch

The ISB provides support to foreign scientists in the NIH visiting, special volunteer, and guest researcher programs.

For foreign scientists engaged in NIH intramural research, the ISB handles administrative and immigration matters ISB also provides visa assistance to foreign special experts, exchange scientists, special volunteers, and visiting fellows engaged in research in the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA.

International Science Policy and Analysis

FIC exercises leadership by advancing NIH research needs and opportunities in a global context, and by analyzing international policy issues that affect the course and conduct of biomedical science. The center provides continuing analysis of cross-cutting policy issues and promotes international fora on emerging scientific and medical challenges.

Emphasis is placed on:

  • the idenfication of current and future research needs and policy issues that require international coordination;

  • international strategies to share research costs and pool efforts toward mutual scientific goals;

  • the role of international programs and policies in meeting U.S. and global human resource needs in biomedical research;

  • ethical, social, and legal consideration related to international research; and

  • national competitiveness issues and international cooperation.


National Institutes of Health