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National Institutes of Health Study Group

Bethesda, Maryland
Director, Fall 2017: Engda Hagos, Associate Professor of Biology

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study Group offers the opportunity for Colgate students interested in the biomedical sciences to spend a full semester working in some of the most exciting research laboratories in the world. The NIH in Bethesda, MD, housing over 5000 active researchers, are the official federal health-related research facilities of the United States. The hallmark of the study group is an intensive research experience involving 30+ hours of research each week in an NIH laboratory of the students’ choosing.

Program Structure

Students will carry a normal course load of four credits while on the study group. The research experience will count for two of the required four course credits. Colgate course credit will appear on the transcript upon satisfactory completion of study group courses.

Required Courses

All study group participants are required to enroll in the following courses:

BIOL 392Y: Topics in the Primary Literature of the Molecular Biosciences
This classroom-based course will meet one day weekly. Students will take turns leading a discussion summarizing the primary literature relating to each individual’s research project. Each student will also be required to write a summary of the literature presented by the other students in the course. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their oral presentation, weekly summaries, and class participation.


Students will choose one of the following two elective courses in addition to the courses listed above:

CHEM 353Y: Proteins & Nucleic Acids.  This course will be taught by an instructor from the Bethesda area. This course is a survey of biopolymers and the methods of biopolymer research. (This is a required or recommended course for students majoring in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, or Neuroscience.)

BIOL 337: Cancer Biology. This course will focus on understanding the cell and molecular changes that lead to human cancer. The course will cover several major areas of cancer biology including the nature of cancer, signals in tumor cells, oncogenes, tumor suppressors, cancer-causing viruses, unregulated cell proliferation, DNA damage, epigenetics, apoptosis, angiogenesis metastasis, and current therapeutic approaches to cancer treatment.
Prerequisite: BIOL 182.

BIOL 374: Immunology. This course provides an investigation of the molecular and cellular components of the vertebrate immune system, emphasizing human immunology. It investigates the general principles that govern different components of the immune system and integrates those principles to develop a broad understanding of immune function. Topics include the generation of immunologic memory, consequences of immune system malfunction, manipulation of the immune system to positively impact human health, and methods that facilitate investigation of new questions about immune system function.
Prerequisite: BIOL 212/182.

NEUR 379: Neurochemistry.  This course asks the students to evaluate the current literature in the areas of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis and idiopathic Alzheimer’s Disease.  The students will propose models and experiments to test different aspects of the pathogenesis of these two diseases.  The course is an excellent complement to the nature of scientific discovery that the students will be undertaking at the NIH. 
Prerequisite: BIOL 182 and CHEM 263.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

The group is open to selected members of the classes of 2017 and 2018 who are in good academic standing. Successful applicants should be highly motivated toward a career or postgraduate education in the biological or health sciences, and be capable of working independently in a research environment. Completion of a year of general chemistry (CHEM 101–102 or CHEM 111), a year of organic chemistry (CHEM 263–264), and Molecules, Cells and Genes (BIOL 212/182) is required.  One course in Mathematics or Computer Science is desirable before attending the study group. Typically, successful applicants have been majors in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, or Neuroscience.

Living Arrangements

Students will live in furnished apartments arranged by Colgate University in the Cleveland House located near the Woodley Park/Zoo Metro stop in the District of Columbia. Commuting from the Woodley Park/Zoo metro stop to the Medical Center stop at NIH is approximately 15 minutes from this housing. Students will not need a car to participate in the NIH Study Group. Colgate will make the necessary arrangements for apartment leases and will charge students for housing.


The Metro underground public transportation system provides easy access to Washington, D.C., and all the opportunities of our nation’s capital city.

Field Trips

The group will take at three to four trips during the semester to attend events of cultural interest in the Washington, DC area. These may include a tour of DC, a sporting event, a play at Ford’s Theater, a visit to Mt. Vernon, and a political-comedy show by the Capitol Steps.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Calendar and Deadlines

The deadline for applications to the Fall 2016 NIH Study Group is Friday November 4, 2016. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online.  Interviews will be conducted prior to the submission of the application on November 4, 2016.  Students will be notified of their acceptance prior to Thanksgiving.

Information Sessions

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 6, 2016  at 5:00 p.m.

Both meetings will be held in 101 McGregory Hall (Center for International Programs).

More information

For more information please contact Professor Engda Hagos, 205A Olin Hall or by e-mail at

Information for Non-Colgate Applicants

Information for non-Colgate applicants

Program Alumni

Alumni of the National Institutes of Health study group have found success in a variety of medical and research fields. In the summer of 2014 several were profiled in the Colgate Scene, Colgate's alumni magazine.