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National Institutes of Health Study Group

Bethesda, Maryland

Director, Fall 2018: Ahmet Ay, Associate Professor of Biology and Mathematics
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 316:  Bioinformatics. This course provides an introduction to the use of computational techniques to extract useful information from the large-scale publicly available genomic datasets. The course focuses on basics of biological data collection/analysis, the genetic basis for human diseases, and evolution of living organisms. Topics of interest include human disease prediction, phylogenetic tree construction, and multiple sequence alignment. Students will learn new ways of thinking about evolution and human diseases. The course will help students develop new computational skills that they can use in their research and future jobs. This course complements the research students will be undertaking at the NIH. Prerequisite: BIOL 182.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

The group is open to selected members of the classes of 2019 and 2020 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) 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 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 estimated details of student expenses on this study group, please see the Student Cost Estimate Sheet.

Calendar and Deadlines

The deadline for applications to the Fall 2018 NIH Study Group is Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online.  Interviews of applicants will be conducted after the submission of the application on November 15, 2017.  Students will be notified of their acceptance one week after final exams.

Information Sessions

Monday, October 23, 2017 at 8 p.m. in 101 McGregory Hall
Friday, October 24, 2017  at 5 p.m. in 301 Olin Hall

More information

For more information please contact Professor Ay, 206 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.