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Be a STAR: NIA summer research training program application period opens

Arlene Jackson
Intramural Recruitment Specialist,
Office of the Scientific Director (OSD)

Summertime means time off for most high school and college students, but a select, highly motivated few use the opportunity to immerse themselves in a unique research experience: the NIA Intramural Research Program’s Summer Training in Aging Research (STAR) Program.

Each year, NIA’s STAR Program—part of the broader NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) in Biomedical Research—attracts a diverse group of applicants from high schools, colleges, medical schools, and graduate programs. Whether or not they’ve decided on a research career, STAR participants get to work directly with NIA intramural investigators and postdoctoral fellows while gaining cutting-edge scientific and lab skills that can boost a multitude of career paths related to the biology of aging.

Getting a STAR experience

STAR Interns will learn a lot and benefit, too, from meeting scientific staff who are happy to support and mentor them. All will learn the scientific method, and some may get an opportunity to co-author a journal article. Interns attend scientific seminars on age-related research, develop research poster presentations, and receive career mentorship from NIA scientists and staff, including help with preparation of professional and graduate school applications.

The program culminates in the Summer Program Poster Day. This day-long event gives these young scientists a chance to share a true NIH experience. And for the NIA scientists looking proudly on, the day reinforces the value of mentoring the next generation of potential researchers.

New participation criteria for 2019

The 2019 STAR season introduces some important changes to the eligibility requirements. Students must be enrolled at least half-time in an accredited U.S. high school, college, or university and must be 17 years old by June 15 of the internship year. High school students must meet two additional criteria:

  1. They must be either juniors or seniors, and
  2. If they will not be 18 years old by June 15 of the internship year, they must, at the time of application, reside within 40 miles of the NIH campus on which they hope to intern.

Some flexibility exists to accommodate individual student needs.

The number of students each year varies, depending on the quantity and quality of applications, as well as the size of the program’s budget. Last summer, 56 students participated. We estimate that NIA has mentored more than 1,200 summer interns over the 26-year history of the program.

How to apply

The application period for the 2019 NIH SIP is now open. The application deadline is March 1, 2019; 11:30 p.m., Eastern time.

You can apply for a summer internship online through the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education website. You can find print (PDF, 120K) and video application tips on that site.

Detailed information on eligibility criteria, the selection process, and the nature of the summer program for high school interns can be found on the new High School SIP web page, including a detailed video on the application process.

Students who express an interest in aging or select NIA as their Institute of choice will have their applications directed to us. After you submit your online application, please contact me to ensure that your information is placed in the NIA applicant pool for consideration.

If you’re a student, parent, or researcher with additional questions on these summer programs, please comment below. If you’re a past participant, we welcome your comments as well.


Submitted by Melinda Duncan on January 16, 2019

Are you doing Sails camp this year too or is that program being retired?

Submitted by on February 28, 2019

In reply to by Melinda Duncan

Thanks for your question. No, Sails is not retired. It’s our hope to get it up and running this year, or at the latest, for Summer of 2020.