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Welcome to the 2021 Virtual Summer Internship Program

The 2021 NIH Summer Handbook is now available!

One thing is certain: Summer 2021 will be different from any summer before or (hopefully) after. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, ALL SUMMER INTERNS WILL BE VIRTUAL; we will need, as a community, to cooperate to teach and mentor, learn and do science, remotely.


First: Let's clarify the complex summer plan for 2021.

Target AudiencePrograms for NIH Summer InternsPrograms for those who are NOT NIH Summer Interns (general public)
Students in college, graduate, or professional school Summer Internship Program (SIP) Summer Enrichment Curriculum
High school students High school SIP (HS-SIP) High School Summer Enrichment Curriculum (also for recent high school graduates)

If you are a Summer Intern, YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE. Read on to learn more about how the program will work: the activities included and the system you will use to access NIH resources.

If you are a High School Summer Intern, YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE TOO. Keep reading and then also check out the detailed description of HS-SIP after you finish the general SIP description below.

If you were not selected as a summer intern but are interested in participating in virtual summer events offered by the NIH, take a look at the 2021 Virtual Summer Enrichment Curriculum or the 2021 Virtual Summer Enrichment Curriculum for High School Students and Recent High School Graduates, a listing of NIH science activities that are open to ALL young scientists this summer.

To request sign language interpreters or CART Services, you can contact NIH Interpreting Services by phone at 301-402-8180, by using the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339, or by submitting a request online. If you have other, disability-related accommodation requests for an event, please email OITE-EventServices@od.nih.govRequests should be made at least 5 days in advance of the event.


Summer Internship Program Activities

The summer program plan will consist of multiple elements. The idea is that each intern will work with his/her mentor to create a summer plan that supplements the intern’s virtual project with other career and scientific development activities to help the intern explore his/her interest and create a meaningful full-time experience. Be certain to talk with your summer mentor and create a summer plan BEFORE registering for these activities. Here is a brief list of your summer options with links that will connect you to additional information.

  • Most important: Each intern will focus a significant part of his/her effort and time on a virtual summer project. You will work on you project under the supervision of your summer mentor.

  • A summer intern curriculum provided by OITE: that will include orientations for both HS-SIP and SIP participants in addition to series of workshops addressing becoming a resilient scientist (with associated discussion sessions), career development for high school students, graduate and/or professional school preparation for college students, and career development and science skills.

    These workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons to permit interns in the western time zones to participate.The workshops (but not the orientations) will be available to interested students in the extramural community, as they were last year.

  • Summer bootcamps: The bootcamps will focus on particular issues in science, either as a multi-week series or an in-depth one-week exploration. The topics will be
    1. Principles of Scientific Thinking
    2. Social (In)Justice in Research and Medicine
    3. Clinical Trials
    4. Health Disparities
    5. Common Misconceptions about the Human Mind and Behavior
    6. The Therapeutic Development Process
    7. Learn to Code: Python for Beginners
    8. Leadership Academy
  • Summer Journal Clubs: Journal clubs are small groups that get together to read scientific papers on a topic of joint interest. By participating, you can meet other summer interns, learn about new techniques and discoveries, and develop the ability to read papers critically. As in past years, we have offered more advanced NIH trainees the opportunity, working in pairs, to run a 4 to 6 week journal club during the period between June 14th and July 30.

  • Opportunities to Explore Data Science for Summer Interns: In the future, biomedical research, and research in general, will depend increasingly on data science, computation, and related disciplines. The large amounts of data investigators can now generate will require secure storage and mechanisms for sharing datasets; standardization of data elements; creation, support, and sharing of new tools and workflows; involvement of data scientists in most research projects; and the training of a data science workforce. In short, we can predict that ALL scientists will have to understand and use data science in the future.

    The Virtual Opportunities to Explore Data Science planned for summer 2021 will provide trainees at various levels with a variety of options to learn and improve their computational skills as applied to biomedical research.  The material will range from the basics of learning to code, to using Supercomputers and Cloud-based services to mine, analyze, and visualize data. The offerings were planned in collaboration with the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy. They are open to summer interns at all levels.

  • Summer Lecture Series:

    Lecture 1: Register. IMPORTANT: You can now use the registration link to watch this terrific lecture on demand, with optional captioning. You can also watch it on the OITE YouTube channel.

    Anna María Nápoles, PhD, MPH
    Scientific Director
    National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

    Date: June 15, 2021
    Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Title: The Transcreation Framework: Translating Behavioral Interventions to Reduce Health Disparities

    Dr. Anna Maria Napoles will describe her career path to becoming Scientific Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. She will discuss an innovative implementation framework that she developed with colleague, Dr. Anita Stewart, to create a step-by-step process for planning, delivering, and evaluating behavioral interventions so that they resonate with and engage the communities experiencing the disparities, while achieving the intended health outcomes.

    Lecture 2: Watch the YouTube video

    Francis Collins, MD/PhD
    National Institutes of Health

    Date: June 29, 2021
    Time: 1:00-2:00 pm
    Title: The Person behind the Title

    Come hear from Dr. Francis Collins, the NIH Director, as he reflects on his career path and addresses questions from summer interns at NIH and across the US. Dr. Collins was appointed the 16th Director of the NIH by President Barack Obama and is the only Presidentially appointed NIH Director to serve more than one administration. Dr. Collins is a human-geneticist with an active research lab; he has mentored trainees at all educational levels and is deeply committed to the NIH training mission. Dr. Collins will give a short presentation and will then respond to questions submitted by trainees who register for the webinar in advance.

  • NIH Science at Home: As we did in 2020, the OITE has reserved Fridays for presentations by the ICs. Many of the 27 Institutes and Centers (such as the National Cancer Institute, the National Eye Institute, the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, the National Human Genome Research Institute) that make up the NIH, will be offering activities: investigators discussing their research, panels on the careers IC trainees pursue, or perhaps workshops on current important issues in their disciplines. We will also post IC journal clubs and lecture series that are open to summer interns across the NIH. Watch the summer schedule!

  • In Their Own Words: The NIH Experiences and Career Paths of Prior and Current NIH Trainees. In this series, past and current NIH summer interns and postbacs from disadvantaged backgrounds and groups underrepresented in the sciences will talk about their research and share insights into what it's like to work at the NIH. They will also discuss their educational and career journeys, including their paths to the NIH and the challenges they faced along the way.

  • The 2021 Virtual Graduate & Professional School Fair: This year the fair is scheduled for July 19-22, with live workshops on the 19th and online exhibitor sessions on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd. As of this today, more than 270 institutions have registered to participate

  • Virtual Summer Presentation Week:

    Summer Research Presentation Week 2021 will take place virtually from August 3rd through August 5th. Registration will open June 8th and close July 7th.

    If you are a summer intern, Summer Research Presentation Week is your time to share the research and creative projects you have been conducting at the NIH with the broader NIH community and your family and friends! At the same time, you will develop your communication and networking skills.

    Any student (high school, college, medical/dental, or graduate) working in an intramural research group this summer may present. You might not have results, but you can still present background information on your project, any data you may have collected, or a discussion of the technical problems you encountered. You can present ideas on and approaches to a project. You can choose to present either a 3-minute talk or a poster. Even although your presentation will be virtual, we hope you will receive questions and comments about your work. You will have a chance to practice communicating your scientific ideas and results with broader audiences. We hope this event will bring our community closer during this time of social distancing.

  • The last year has been stressful for all of us. As scientists, we can do our best work when we cultivate our well-being and resilience and learn to manage our stress. Take time this summer to master these important skills.

OITE staff Members Are Here to Help

The last year has been stressful for all of us. As scientists, we can do our best work when we cultivate our well-being and resilience and learn to manage our stress. Take time this summer to master these important skills. The OITE is happy to speak with you about your career progression, applications to graduate or professional school, and issues that are affecting your work while "here" for the summer.

  • OITE Career Counselors are available for virtual 1:1 meetings to discuss career decision making, resume reviews, and more; make an appointment here:
  • If you are interested in advice regarding medical or graduate school applications, please attend our weekly drop-in Q&A sessions; they are listed on the OITE events page:
  • Our Wellness team offers opportunities to connect including resilience discussion groups, weekly wellness check-ins, mindfulness meditation, and opportunities to journal. You will find them described on the webpage entitled Summer Intern Wellness "at" the NIH. If you need additional help, please email
  • OITE can also refer you to other NIH wellness resources and, when appropriate, we will offer to help you speak with your mentors.

Remember: A summer research experience will have its challenging moments – trainees who take advantage of all the resources available to them deal more effectively with these challenges.


Accessing NIH Resources Remotely: a Message from the NIH Center for Information Technology

NIH Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Welcome to the NIH 2021 Summer Internship Program! To ensure you can successfully work on your research project remotely, NIH is offering a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that gives you access to the appropriate NIH resources.

What Is VDI?

VDI is a technology that allows you to access a virtual desktop environment from any computer. With VDI, you can securely access NIH resources, such as your NIH email, web browsers, web conferencing tools, file-storage and file-sharing tools, Microsoft 365 applications, and scientific applications—all from your personal computer.

Read more about VDI and take a look at the comprehensive guides created by the NIH Center for Information Technology (CIT) to help you gain access.