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Ambassador Highlights

Imagine all that you can achieve in a research career

Participation in the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) has had a major impact on the careers of research scientists. Initial evaluation findings show that research scientists who participated in the NIH LRPs stay in research, apply for and receive more research grants, continue to publish in scholarly journals, and contribute to science.

These stories highlight the achievements of current and former LRP awardees who are making noteworthy contributions in their respective fields.

Vivian L., MD

“More than half of all students graduate with significant undergraduate and graduate educational debt. This factors into many decisions including job opportunities and earning potentials. However, it is truly unfortunate to sacrifice the dreams we came in with for the education we worked so hard for. The LRP helps diminish this financial burden, enabling many to live out their passions such as myself as a clinician-scientist, trying to discover ways to preserve vision as a basic scientist. As a very grateful LRP awardee, I want to encourage everyone to apply for the LRP award.”

Ken W., DC, PhD

“The NIH LRP has provided me with the foundation to compete for additional NIH funding and the protected time to grow as an early career researcher. The financial freedom from student loan debt has allowed me to be more flexible as a scientist and expand into new areas of research”

Kelly H., PhD

“I entered a Ph.D. program later in life, as an untraditional student burdened with student debt. The LRP award allowed me to pursue interesting fellowship opportunities without the financial pressure of lingering debt. My award was driver to what I hope will be a long career in academic research”

Erik A., MD

“I think the LRP will provide additional exposure to research colleagues and networking opportunities. Although I just recently received the award this month, there have already been great opportunities, such as an invitation to participate in the Ambassador Program and attend the NIH Regional Seminar and LRP Awardee Reception”

Ramon B., MD

“The LRP program has connected me to a network of phenomenal scientists across the country which has opened up potential collaborations and future grant applications. The ability to pay off student loans more than a decade in advance has really provided tremendous financial flexibility to remain in an academic research faculty position”

Chris B., MD

“Receiving an LRP award allowed my wife and I to afford to start a family rather than constantly worrying about how we would balance student debt with the expenses of raising a young family while building our academic careers”

Jennifer B., PhD, MSSW

“Another way the LRP has helped me, which was completely unexpected, was building my network of colleagues and scholars. Over the years, even before becoming an ambassador for the program, I would network with other awardees, and we would share our experiences and our applications to help others apply for this amazing opportunity”

Justin B., MD, MS, FAEMS

“Talk to someone at your institution who is a NIH LRP awardee. They will have invaluable advice on how to be successful. As an LRP Ambassador, I am “batting a thousand” helping other clinicians achieve this award!”

Tobey B., PhD

“Receiving an LRP award has been a tremendous first step to gain confidence, credentials and financial stability as I take the next steps in becoming an independent researcher. It has also allowed me to establish connections and begin dialogue with individuals at the NIH and the NIA that will undoubtedly be beneficial as I work towards obtaining future research awards and grants”

Carinne B., DrPH

“Aside from the financial benefits, the LRP program gave me more confidence in my research. The fact that NIH researchers reviewed my portfolio and my body of work and thought I was worthy of this award made me feel so honored”

Hailey B., PhD

“Obtaining an LRP award was just as impactful for my husband as it was for me. We’ve been married since before I started graduate school, and he shouldered much of the financial burden throughout the 4 years of graduate school, 1 year of clinical internship, and the first year of fellowship - not to mention moving across state lines more than once in pursuit of my degree”

Nicholas B., MD

“The most significant impact of the receiving the LRP has been the ability to focus my time and energy on the development of my research and junior academic career without an overwhelming sense of anxiety related to my large student debt burden”

Pajarita C., PhD

“The LRP awards have been invaluable as they allowed me to pay off significant educational debt and at the same, enabled me to focus and build my research career to achieve independence as a research scientist. I started as a post-doc and went on to obtain a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. The LRP was a crucial part of that process”

Thomas C., DVM, MD

“I would have gone into biomedical research if the LRP did not exist, but it is impossible to articulate how useful this award was for career planning and decision making. This program was even more supportive of my professional development than I realized at the time”

Lisa C., MD

“The LRP was the reason that I was able to pursue an academic rheumatology career. Had this award program not been available, I would have never been able to shoulder the high debt burden and remain in academia”

Hilary D., PhD

“Receiving the LRP award has been a tremendous. The LRP has helped lay the groundwork for applying for other external grants through NIH”

Amaka E., MD, MPH, FASN

“In addition to your mentors, have multiple people read your application. It is very helpful to hear perspectives from others even if they are not knowledgeable about your proposed topic. Also, reapply if you do not receive the award the first time!”

Jason F., PT, DPT, PhD

“The process of preparing the LRP award is a valuable experience that translates into writing independent grants and career-development awards. Writing my LRP application in tandem with my F31 grant really highlighted parallels between the processes; now, as I am beginning to think about the pieces involved in writing a K-grant, I realize that my experiences writing LRP applications were a great launching point”

Beth F., PhD

“Receiving the LRP award has positively impacted my family. We now have the financial ability to help my husband pursue a higher degree and to start saving money to purchase our first home”

Paul F., PhD

“We were able to buy a house last year and pay off more of my partner’s student loans each year. Those things would have never been possible if I did not receive the LRP and I had to be paying the full loan amount each month. The LRP has certainly helped alleviate the financial stress associated with large student debt”

Christine F., PhD

“I have a daughter who will be heading off to college soon. My husband and I were worried that my huge loan debt would impact our ability to help her with tuition and the other expenses she will have as a college student. The LRP award will significantly lessen our burden and help us to plan for her future, and ours”

Ryan F., PharmD, PhD

“Receiving the LRP has proven greatly beneficial to my continued efforts to establish myself as an independent clinical scientist. It has provided both a positive moral and a monetary impact that will have a significant influence on my career”

David J., PharmD, PhD

“The LRP award showed my mentor the potential of my work and we used LRP-related research projects as preliminary evidence for a recent NIH K08 application”

Michael J., PhD

“Uprooting a family to a different city to do a postdoc does not come without costs. It was very helpful to be able to stay the course in pursuing becoming a PI without the financial hardship of repaying my loans”

Jennifer K., MD, MPH

“Keep trying! Just like in research, being persistent pays off! I wasn’t successful applying to the LRP on my first attempt”

Corinna L., MD

“The first LRP permitted me to pay back my loans while completing my MPH and saved me over $100,000 in accrued loans during residency. The second LRP enables me to put my salary toward purchasing a home”

Ben L., PhD

“By decreasing my financial burdens, the LRP allowed me to focus more on work and family, leading to a substantial overall improvement in my mental health & well-being”

Ashley L., PhD

“Receiving an LRP from the NIH has been life-changing in that it has afforded me time to focus on building my research program rather than paying off my large student loan debt. As an early career researcher (earned my PhD in August 2016), this award came at a perfect time!”

Molly M., PhD

“There is prestige involved in being an LRP recipient; it is a competitive grant award. Because my student loan debt was paid, I was able to stay in a fiscally-high risk research faculty position”

Jennifer M., MD, MSc

“The potential amount of loan repayment is substantial, and this can mean significant stress lifted from individuals and their families as they begin their academic careers. Additionally, the LRP got me to focus my research more concretely during my post graduate training years”

Henrika M., PhD, MSW

“Receiving an LRP provided supportive evidence regarding the importance of my areas of research”

Kristen M., DrPH, CPPS

“The award provided me the confidence and clout to move forward with multiple grant applications and a transition to a Senior Research Scientist position with the leading human factors research team in the nation”

Debraj M., MD, MPH

“Through the support of the NIH LRP, I have been able to use financial resources that otherwise would have gone toward paying down my student debt to instead support development of my research team and the purchase of my first home. This has allowed both my research endeavors and my family to flourish in ways that I otherwise couldn’t have imagined during this relatively early phase of my career”

Sara M., PhD

“One major unexpected benefit is the network of other LRP recipients through the ambassador program, individuals I’ve met and connected with who are also LRP recipients, and the opportunity to mentor other junior faculty through their own LRP process”

Peter N., DVM, PhD

“Obtaining an NIH LRP has significantly improved my biosketch and has validated the cumulative hard work that I and my mentors have invested into my career development”

Phillip P., MD

“I have met phenomenal colleagues both in and outside of my institution through the LRP. This has facilitated collaborative research and more grant applications”

Michael S., PhD

“Professionally, the LRP represents a significant award from the National Cancer Institute, which is a career builder in and of itself. In addition, interacting with mentors and recommenders on the project has led to other collaborative research activities and funded grant proposals”

John S., MD

“One good aspect of the LRP is that it forced me to learn how to write a competitive NIH style grant early in my academic career; grant writing is a skill critical to succeeding in an academic environment”

Emily S., MD

“Pediatric endocrinologists are one of the lower paid medical specialties. As I made the decision to focus on research, a major concern was making sure that I could pay off my medical school loans. Through the LRP, after this most recent renewal I will be free of student debt”

Stefanie S., MD

“The LRP has given my family significant financial benefit as it will allow me to pay off my medical school loans almost 20 years ahead of schedule”

Fatima S., MD

“The LRP has dramatically reduced the burden of student loans while allowing me to fulfill my life dream of conducting research as an obesity medicine researcher. I have encouraged many of my mentees and colleagues to apply for the LRP, and the LRP has served as a springboard board outstanding research careers”

Jonathan S., MD

“With the LRP has come notoriety and prestige. I have been asked to be on a panel of LRP awardees at Penn State in order to share my experience and success story so that other applicants may learn from this. My family is very proud of me for receiving this award. I would be unable to be the professional and researcher I am without their loving support”

Jennifer T., MD, MPH

“Receiving the LRP was pivotal in my career as an academic neonatologist. LRP was my first successful grant through NIH NHLBI, and through it my research program was validated as having high potential to improve the lives of babies with lung disease”

Tracy W. PhD, LCSW

“The LRP gave me the opportunity to establish myself on the tenure track without having to worry about student loan payments as part of my budget. Moving to a new place, establishing a life there, and investing in the time and travel to build collaborative connections is challenging”