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Students: Apply now to be a STAR at NIA’s summer research training program!

Arlene Jackson
Associate Training Director,
Office of the Scientific Director (OSD)

It may be winter, but our thoughts are already turning to summer. Not because of the weather, but because that’s when we welcome highly motivated students to NIH 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 — draws a diverse group of applicants from high schools, colleges, medical schools, and graduate programs. STAR students work directly with NIA intramural investigators and postdoctoral fellows while learning the latest scientific and lab skills that can enhance various career paths related to the biology of aging.

Getting a STAR experience

STAR Interns work with NIH scientific staff mentors, absorb the scientific method, and may even get to co-author a journal article. Students attend scientific seminars on age-related research, develop research poster presentations, and receive support for preparing professional and graduate school applications.

The STAR Program’s curriculum is capped off by the Summer Program Poster Day, giving young scientists a chance to present their research and share a true NIH experience. And for the NIA scientists proudly looking on, the day reinforces the value of mentoring the next generation of potential researchers.

Rave reviews from past participants

The horizon-broadening experience of the STAR Program is perhaps best summed up by past participants:

“This program has been such a blessing for me. I have learned so much, made connections that will last a lifetime, and enhanced my experience exponentially. I plan to tell my advisors and professors to recommend the program to all students interested in science. This has truly been a life-changing summer.”

Meagan Colie, Appalachian State University

“The STAR Program is a huge and valuable opportunity for hands-on experience in research. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I was given and will forever treasure the affection and understanding the NIA staff provided to smooth our transition into such prestigious labs.”

Valeria Santiago-Padilla, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Pieras

“What an excellent experience! My mentor was extremely inclusive and an excellent teacher. I felt that we designed our project together; along the way, they were readily available to explain and respond to any questions I had. I learned so much!”

Patrick Fuller, University of California, Santa Cruz

Participation criteria for 2020

The 2020 STAR season maintains the policies introduced in 2019: Students must be enrolled at least half-time in an accredited U.S. high school, college, medical school or graduate program, and must be 17 years old by June 15 of the internship year. The size of the NIA STAR cohort varies, and narrowing down the many high-quality applications is always a challenge. Still, NIA has mentored more than 1,250 summer interns over the 27-year history of the program, including 53 students in 2019.

How to apply

The application period for the 2020 NIH SIP is now open. The application deadline for the NIH SIP-High School is February 1, 2020, and the deadline for the NIH General SIP (for college, medical school and graduate students) is March 1, 2020.

Detailed information on eligibility criteria and the selection process can be found on the new High School SIP web page, including a video on the application process. College, medical school and graduate students can apply for a summer internship through the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education website, which also provides written application tips.

Students who express an interest in aging or select NIA as their NIH 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 have additional questions about these summer programs, please comment below. And, if you’re a past participant, please share about your experience below!

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