Translational Science Training at NCATS

Chemist in labDeveloping the next generation of translational scientists is a top priority for NCATS. The Division of Preclinical Innovation (DPI) provides a variety of training opportunities for high school, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral trainees. DPI is the intramural (i.e., on-site) research program of NCATS and is located in Rockville, Maryland, a few miles from the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. DPI focuses on early stages of the translational process, from target validation to first-in-human studies. More than 200 scientists from a variety of disciplines and across the spectrum from early-career scientists to senior leaders are responsible for advancing the diverse research portfolio of DPI. In addition to conducting cutting-edge laboratory research, DPI scientists collaborate with more than 250 research organizations worldwide.

Collectively, these individuals participate in a team science environment in which each project brings together expertise in:

  • Biology (biological and disease assay development)
  • Automation and engineering (high-throughput screening robotics)
  • Informatics and data analysis
  • Medicinal and analytical chemistry

The research teams in DPI are organized around the following programs:

DPI. Target validation, assay dev, probe/lead development, lead optimization, preclinical development, clinical trials. RNAi, NCGC, Therapeutics for Rare/Neglected Diseases (TRND), Stem Cell Translation Laboratory, 3-D Bioprinting, Assay, Chemistry Technologies, BrIDGs, Tox21 (Systems Toxicology), Repurposing, Paradigm/Technology Development.

To learn more about NCATS on-site research groups and opportunities, visit the links above or the:

Feel free to contact any of the scientists or research groups to inquire about potential training opportunities. More information, including specific application requirements for certain programs, can be found below.

Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research

The summer internship program at NCATS will provide participants with a full-time research experience in all aspects of drug discovery from chemistry to biotechnology to engineering. Interns range from high school to postbaccalaureate students; altogether, NCATS welcomes 20 to 30 interns each summer. During a summer at NCATS, interns will engage in various activities, including hands-on research. Seminars, career talks and journal clubs designed specifically for summer students are offered. At the end of the summer, interns will present their research in poster format, both at NCATS and on the NIH main campus.

To be selected for an NCATS summer internship, interested candidates must apply to the NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) in Biomedical Research. This program is for high school students age 16 and older, undergraduate students, graduate students and professional (e.g., medical, dental) school students. Applicants can apply online from mid-November to March 1 each year. Watch the Applying Successfully video.

Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Program

Recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional (medical/dental/pharmacy) school can spend one to two years performing full-time research at NCATS through the NIH Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Program. Applications are accepted year-round on a rolling basis. Watch a videocast on how to apply. In addition to the research experience, DPI has a vibrant postbaccalaureate program, with a seminar series, professional development opportunities, and a strong network of peers and mentors.

NIH Medical Research Scholars Program

NCATS participates in the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program, a comprehensive, yearlong research enrichment program designed to attract the most creative, research-oriented medical, dental and veterinary students to the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of NIH. Applications are open on October 1 for entrance in the following academic year.

Graduate Partnerships Program

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education hosts the Graduate Partnerships Program, which is designed to attract Ph.D. students to the NIH IRP for dissertation research. Participants enjoy the academic environment of a university, the extensive research resources of NIH and the breadth and depth of research programs at their host university and at the NIH IRP. The goal is to create a different kind of graduate experience that focuses on training the next generation of scientific leaders by emphasizing communication and collaboration skills, integration of information, and interdisciplinary investigation. NCATS participates in both the institutional and individual Graduate Partnerships Program arrangements.

Postdoctoral Training in NCATS Research Groups

DPI scientists work in a collaborative, team-based environment. Postdoctoral fellows are recruited to work on a specific project and have ample opportunities to collaborate with scientists, both within and outside of NCATS on additional projects. Postdoctoral fellows are expected to present the results of ongoing work at meetings (such as internal group meetings and national conferences) and to submit their work for publication in scientific journals. Postdoctoral fellows also gain additional professional skills and exposure to a variety of career paths through participation in the DPI training program.

Immediate openings are posted on the NCATS Job Opportunities page; however, potential applicants should directly contact the DPI scientists with whom they would like to work to inquire about openings.

NIH Visiting Program

The NIH Visiting Program provides opportunities for foreign scientists in Ph.D. programs or foreign scientists who have received doctoral degrees to train and conduct collaborative research at NIH, including at NCATS. Individuals interested in training and/or conducting research at NCATS should directly contact the DPI scientists with whom they would like to work to inquire about openings and become familiar with the NIH process for appointment. This includes the NIH Visiting Program for research training and Visiting Scientists appointments to conduct research.