Research Postdoctoral Fellowship

Program overview

Based in the Center for Primary Care Research and Innovation, this two-year fellowship provides a strong foundation to study and improve healthcare quality in primary care settings. Depending on an individual's focus, experience-based learning opportunities and curriculum can be adapted to prepare a fellow for an academic research, health policy, public health or clinician research career.

The fellowship focuses on the discipline of family medicine, a "countercultural" specialty founded in the anti-poverty movement of the late 1960s, with access to other primary care areas of emphasis such as geriatrics, sports medicine, care for the underserved, and rural medicine.

This unique fellowship immerses fellows in a high-functioning learning health system, a system in which "science, informatics, incentives, and culture are aligned for continuous improvement and innovation, with best practices seamlessly embedded in the delivery process and new knowledge captured as an integral by-product of the delivery experience." In other words, where research and clinical care feed into each other to drive innovation.

Fellows in the primary care post-doctoral research fellowship will engage in numerous activities to develop their research skills and portfolio, gain a greater understanding of the discipline of research in primary care, and prepare for a career in primary care research. During the application process, we will match fellows with a mentor and his / her team. Throughout the fellowship, fellows will participate as a full member of that research group, offering concrete opportunities for publishing, presenting, and augmenting the fellow's CV.

Up to two fellowships are awarded annually. Individuals who have completed an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent doctoral degree are eligible to apply. Fellows receive a competitive salary with full benefits.

Primary care functions, teams, and measurement: What are the most important components, functions, and attributes of primary care and how do we better measure these key aspects? Who is on the team, and how does the team work most effectively together? How can we do a better job of measuring what matters? How can we measure what contributes to better health (not just better business)?

Primary care payment and spending: How should we pay for primary care? Is there a need to realign financial (and other) incentives to strengthen comprehensive primary care? How do we define and measure the amount spent on primary care? If we need to increase this amount, how do we do it?

Primary care science: How do we define primary care research? How do we build and sustain primary care laboratories? What is the primary care research infrastructure needed to produce scientific evidence to inform current and future primary care delivery and relevant policies?

Primary care education: What are the best models for educating the future primary care workforce? What are the best models for academic-community partnerships to enhance education? How do we create sustainable models for moving training programs into communities?

Strengthening the primary care bridge between public health and medicine: What further critical structures/transformations/innovations/discoveries are needed in primary care delivery to most significantly improve health? What are the pathways and mechanisms for how primary care can serve to reallocate downstream health care resources upstream? What are the most effective models for how primary care can identify and address patients' (and communities'?) social and environmental determinants of health?

An incubator of primary care innovation and ideas: How do we share best practices around the OHSU health system, Oregon, the United States and the globe? How do we build sustainable primary care extension programs? Primary care discoveries must be generated, incubated, adapted, and disseminated widely –what is the infrastructure needed for doing so?

The primary care departments at OHSU are top-ranked, nationally known, diverse and rapidly growing enterprise encompassing a large clinical system, a robust teaching program and a vibrant research section based in beautiful Portland, Oregon. The clinical enterprise covers outpatient and inpatient services, providing care in 200,000 patient visits annually. The teaching programs serve medical undergraduates and multiple residency programs.

Primary care researchers at OHSU are committed to developing and disseminating innovative and vital primary care research. For example, the OHSU Family Medicine Research Section has sixteen faculty members and over 30 research assistants and associates working on 45 funded studies that span the fields of health policy research, educational transformation, health information technology, evidence-based practice, social determinants of health and primary care practice transformation. Fellows also have access to mentors and research projects outside the Family Medicine department. OHSU Family Medicine has two nationally recognized "laboratories" for primary care research, OCHIN and MedEdNet, which make it an incredible environment for learning how to conduct practice-based and educational research. We also work closely with the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network.

All fellows will participate in activities at the clinics and department to better inform their research agenda. Fellows will meet regularly with mentors and with their cohort for support, instruction, and feedback. Clinician fellows will have the opportunity to obtain a certificate in OHSU's "Human Investigation Program," a didactic curriculum in research funded by the National Library of Medicine. Our fellowship focuses on the following skills:

Rigorous applied research design

  • Developing research questions 
  • Quantitative methods: data collection and analysis
  • Qualitative methods: data collection and analysis
  • Community and stakeholder engaged methods
  • Manuscript writing and reviewing
  • Team leadership 

Primary Care and Family Medicine as a discipline

  • Learning health systems approach
  • Clinical experience
  • Quality improvement 


  • Grant writing
  • Internal funding

To qualify for consideration, candidates must complete the application and supply the following documents:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • A statement (maximum length two pages) discussing your previous research experience, why you are interested in primary care research, and how you foresee this fellowship program helping you achieve your future goals
  • Doctoral transcript (may be unofficial)
  • A list of three people, including contact information, who will be sending letters of recommendation for you. Letters can be mailed directly from the recommender to our office.

When is the application deadline? 

Applications and letters of recommendation should be received by March 15.

Are non-US citizens eligible to apply?


I received my Ph.D. more than five years ago. Will my application still be considered?

Yes, any individual with a Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent doctoral degree is eligible to apply regardless of when the degree was obtained.

I received a Ph.D. in a field that is not directly related to health care. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. Many of our research faculty and mentors hold Ph.D.s in other disciplines –biostatistics, communication, public health, psychology, sociology –and have made the transition to a health services research career.

If I am a licensed clinician, will I have the opportunity to pursue clinical practice during the fellowship?


Does the fellowship offer support for loan repayment? 

Yes, we support applicants in the loan repayment process. For more information on loan repayment opportunities from NIH please visit their website

What is the compensation for this position?

We offer postdoctoral fellows $65,000 with full benefits. M.D. fellows may earn more by practicing in one of our clinics.

What is the application and interview process?

The deadline for applications is March 15. Stage 1: A panel of faculty and staff from the fellowship program reviews every application thoroughly. Stage 2: Typically, about 4-5 applicants are invited for a first-stage panel interview via videoconference. Stage 3: We invite the finalists to come to Portland to give a talk and interview in person. Stage 4: Selection of the fellows will be announced no later than the end of May with an expected start date of July 1.

When will final decisions be announced? 

Applicants will be notified of a decision no later than the end of May. 

When does the fellowship start?

Most fellows begin on July 1.

If I have completed an M.D., do I need to have completed residency training to apply?

No. Applicants currently finishing their residency are welcome to apply, as well as those who have not pursued residency training. Your personal statement should address this topic.

NithyaPriya Ramalingam, Ph.D.

Ph.D. – Health Implementation Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health Program

Dissertation: Exploration of training as an implementation strategy to promote physical activity within community settings: Research, theory, and practice

Jennifer Lucas, Ph.D.

Ph.D. – Public Health (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Dissertation: The Relationship between Pediatric Asthma and Obesity in Nevada

Maria Ukhanova, M.D., Ph.D.

Ph.D. – Health Services Research, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dissertation: Care Coordination and Polypharmacy among Working-Age Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions

Brenna Blackburn, Ph.D.

Ph.D. – Public Health, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah

Dissertation: Late Effects and Healthcare Costs of Thyroid Cancer