National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Off-Campus Study Group Skip Navigation

National Institutes of Health Study Group

Bethesda, Maryland
Director, Fall 2014: Ernie Nolen, Professor of Chemistry
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) 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 5,000 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 393Y & BIOL 493Y, Colgate Study Group Research: NIH.  This comprises the research component of the NIH experience.  To meet the requirements for these courses, students will choose a research lab at the NIH and agree to spend a minimum of 30 hours each week (often longer) engaged in a meaningful research project under the direction of an NIH researcher.  Performance will be evaluated by the NIH mentor and the director and will be based on progress made in the research project and the quality of a paper in scientific format turned in at the end of the semester.
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.

The two half-credit courses: CHEM 468Y, Medicinal Chemistry. and CHEM 452Y, Metabolic Chemistry.  These courses, taught by the Study Group Director, serve as a chemistry/biochemistry electives or general electives.  Medicinal Chemistry will focus on drug discovery and design, including ADME factors, delivery, and process development. Metabolic Chemistry will examine the catabolism and biosynthesis of lipids, carbohydrates, protein, and nucleic acids.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

The group is open to selected members of the classes of 2015 and 2016 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), Molecules, Cells and Genes (BIOL 212) and at least one course in Mathematics or Computer Science is required 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 apartments at Cleveland House Apartments 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. 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.

Calendar and Deadlines

The deadline for applications to the Fall 2013 NIH Group is Friday November 8, 2013.   Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online.  Only finalists in the selection process will be interviewed. Interviews will take place before Thanksgiving break and will be arranged by email.  Student notification of selections will take place December 16-20.  Written confirmation of participation is due January 10, 2014. 

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.

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. READ MORE

More Information

For more information, please contact Ernie Nolen, 205 Wynn Hall (315-228-7234) or

Information Sessions:

Thursday, October 17 at 4 p.m.
Monday, October 21 at 4:30 p.m.

All meetings will be held in Room 116 Wynn Hall.