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National Institutes of Health Study Group

Bethesda, Maryland
Director, Fall 2019: Priscilla Van Wynsberghe, Department 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 course 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 351:  Topics in Advanced Cellular Physiology: RNA Biology.  Though RNA is typically thought of as just a messenger that enables protein production from the DNA genome, RNA plays many essential roles in our cells. This course explores the diverse functions of RNA including catalysis, splicing, and the regulation of gene expression through both small and long non-coding RNAs. Emphasis is on critical reading of the scientific literature and examining current experiments that lead us to our understanding of these topics. Prerequisite: BIOL 182.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

The group is open to selected members of the classes of 2020 and 2021 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 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 in a hall owned and operated by NYU located at 1307 L. Street NW in the District of Columbia. Each residential floor contains mostly 4-person, 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom apartments. Students also have access to a game room, resource center, laundry room, serenity space, and ample multipurpose space. A full-time Residential Life Coordinator and part-time Residential Life Administrators reside in NYU Washington, DC to provide advice, guidance, support, programming, and activities. Colgate will make the necessary arrangements for apartment leases and will charge students for housing.

Students will have access to a shared kitchen in their apartments and will prepare their own meals.


The study group includes a Metro card. Students will use the Red subway line from Metro Center to Medical Center to commute to the NIH each day. The commute will take 30-40 minutes each way. Classes will be held onsite at the NIH. Onsite parking is not available. Colgate discourages students from having a private vehicle in Washington, D.C.

The Metro underground public transportation system provides easy access to Washington, DC, 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 study group application will open on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and will close on Wednesday, November 7, 2018.  Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study website and are submitted online at  The faculty director will interview applicants after all submissions have been received.  The faculty director will announce admissions decisions by early January 2019.

Information Sessions

  • Wednesday, October 24, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 30, at 4:30 p.m.
Both meetings will be held in 101 McGregory Hall (Center for International Programs).

More information

For more information please contact Professor Priscilla Van Wynsberghe, 211 Olin Hall or by e-mail at

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.