The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Summer Research Internship Program supports undergraduate students with a focus on increasing underrepresented populations in substance use and addiction research. Through this program, students aged 18 years and older are introduced to the field of substance use and addiction research by participating in research internships with NIDA funded scientists at universities across the United States. Students work with leading scientists for eight weeks during the summer. The internship may include laboratory experiments, data collection, data analysis, formal courses, participation in lab meetings, patient interviews, manuscript preparation, and literature reviews. In addition, each intern will have an opportunity to deliver a brief presentation on their research project at the end of the internship.
The NIDA Summer Research Internship Program is in its 27th year. Since the program’s inception in 1997, more than 1395 students have gained experience in substance use and addiction research.
- This NIDA Summer Research Internship Program is designed for undergraduate students to experience substance use and addiction research in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences. Applicants must be at least 18 years old on or before May 31, 2023 and must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
- Graduating 2023 college seniors are eligible to apply.
- Students must be committed to working for 8 consecutive weeks during the summer (some schedule flexibilities may be allowed).
- Individuals who have already participated in the NIDA Summer Research Internship Program are no longer eligible to apply.
- Although this program is designed to enhance underrepresented populations in science, individuals from all racial and ethnic groups are eligible to apply. NIDA highly encourages those from the following groups to apply for this summer research experience:
- Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the NSF to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data) and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program. For more information on racial and ethnic categories and definitions, see the OMB Revisions to the Standards for Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity
- Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.
- Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:
- Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act;
- Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families;
- Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Programfor two or more years;
- Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (see First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students: A Comparison of High School and Postsecondary Experiences);
- Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants;
- Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child.
- Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas (qualifying zip codes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.
- Students from low socioeconomic (SES) status backgrounds have been shown to obtain bachelor’s and advanced degrees at significantly lower rates than students from middle and high SES groups (see National Center for Education Statistics: Spotlight Archive), and are subsequently less likely to be represented in biomedical research. For background see Department of Education data at, National Center for Education Statistics; National Center for Education Statistics: Spotlight Archive; Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education.
- Literature shows that women from the above backgrounds (categories A, B, and C) face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields. (See, e.g., From the NIH: A Systems Approach to Increasing the Diversity of Biomedical Research Workforce).
- Women have been shown to be underrepresented in doctorate-granting research institutions at senior faculty levels in most biomedical-relevant disciplines, and may also be underrepresented at other faculty levels in some scientific disciplines (See data from the National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, special report, especially Table 9-23, describing science, engineering, and health doctorate holders employed in universities and 4-year colleges, by broad occupation, sex, years since doctorate, and faculty rank).
Scope of Support
- Interns will receive a salary in the amount of $15.00 per hour for a maximum of $4,800 for eight (8) weeks.
*Some exceptions may apply for localities with a higher minimum wage.
- Internship experiences may be virtual, in-person, or a combination of both, depending on the internship site offerings.
- Interns may receive a housing reimbursement for up to $2,500 (upon sending NIDA proper documentation of these expenses) if they are required to travel to a different state for their internship. After accepting an internship position, the intern will be required to cover any additional costs for housing and other expenses accrued including but not limited to utilities, cable, Wi-Fi, and meals. NIDA understands that some locations have a higher cost of living and additional housing support will be considered with proper documentation on a case-by-case basis.
- Interns may also receive a travel reimbursement for up to $500 for travel to and from the internship site, including but not limited to: bus, train, metro, airplane, uber, taxi, and parking.
Other Program Components
- Interns will have the opportunity to attend a 5-week NIDA Summer Seminar Series which will consist of presentations from NIDA staff on a variety of research topics.
- Interns will also be encouraged to present on their summer research experience with 3 PowerPoint slides in 3 minutes during a virtual NIDA Summer Research Internship Program Project Showcase at the end of the summer.
- The 2023 NIDA Summer Research Internship Program will begin accepting applications in January 2023.
- Application components include:
- A completed application form, current transcripts (unofficial transcripts are acceptable), and two letters of recommendation.
- All application materials must be submitted by Friday, February 10, 2023. 2023 Program Dates & Timeline (Subject to change):
- October 31, 2022—Mentor registration deadline
- January 1, 2023—Internship application season opens online
- February 10, 2023—Intern application deadline
- March 2023—Review of applications
- April 2023—Applicants and mentors are notified of final application status
- *June 1, 2023—Summer Research with NIDA officially begins (8 weeks)
*Internship start and end dates will vary and should be arranged between the intern and internship lab staff.
- If you have any questions, feel free to contact Julie Huffman, phone 301-443-9798 or Isabela Lopes, 301-827-8255.
What past NIDA summer interns and mentors have said about the program.
“Through the NIDA summer program, I have been afforded the opportunity to be exposed and partake in many parts of a research study like coding qualitative interviews and collaborating on manuscripts. From engaging in dialogue with patients in follow-up interviews to assessing counselor sessions for fidelity and providing ongoing feedback, I have been able to build upon my communication skills, while also further developing my cultural competency as a researcher. Gaining this type of expertise will prove to be valuable in my professional career and work to enhance my application to MD programs in the future. My participation in the NIDA program went above and beyond my expectations and has introduced me to the intriguing and innovative space of addiction research. I implore all future generations of NIDA interns to be open-minded and bring a willingness to learn each day of your internship. Show up fully confident and bring your own identity and background into your lab to help inform your research, especially those holding marginalized identities. Take up the space that we have been deprived of in the STEM field for far too long!”Image
Nicholas C., was a 2021 intern in Dr. Sara Becker’s lab at Brown University
Looking at the work I did this summer under Dr. Torregrossa, I learned an immense amount of new information about not only the field of neuroscience, but also about what I want to pursue as a career. One of the general ideas I learned about was how to study and specifically look at memory reconsolidation and neurobehavioral changes in rodents when exposed to drugs of abuse. I also gained an understanding of the different tasks that the rodents were given. In particular, how these tasks can be used in a way in which the rodent identifies a correct object, and then is given a reward as a result. This internship experience as a whole was one of the best of my life and I am extremely thankful that I got to experience it. I always knew that I wanted to conduct research; I was just never quite sure on what I wanted to study or how the process was fully conducted. Now, I have confidence that continuing on this career path of addiction research and science is something that I want to do, and I look forward to doing it. In regard to what is next for me, I have plans to graduate in May of 2022 and then continue on helping conduct research in Dr. Torregrossa’s lab to gain even more research experience while I apply for PhD programs.Image
Shaelyn S. was a 2021 intern in Dr. Mary Torregrossa’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh
- “This program solidified my interest in drug abuse research. I am very grateful to have had this experience, and highly recommend it to any student who is interested in exploring drug abuse research.”
Elizabeth S., ’18 intern
Dr. Paul Meyer, University of California, San Diego
- “The NIDA summer internship was the single-most influential experience in my academic career. I was able to partake in breakthrough fMRI research and work with world class researchers. I was promoted at my research group back in my home university, and was even offered a full-time position at my summer internship location once I graduate.”
Edward R. 18’ intern
Dr. Christina Hoven, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York
- “Thanks to this internship, I had opportunities to have other research experiences, create a EEG manual and become the PI on my own study. I was even motivated to apply to masters and PhD programs as well.”
India H., ’16 intern
Dr. Steven Shoptaw, University of California, Los Angeles
- “I must say this has been an extraordinary experience for me, where I have learned more than I could put into words and gained such valuable information that I will surely take with me to help me greatly succeed in my studies and future career.”
Jacqueline M ’17 intern
Dr. Anne Duerr, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- “The NIDA summer internship was one of the most amazing learning experiences that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in. I was able to work alongside prestigious researchers who took the time to sit down with me and teach me valuable research skills that I will carry with me as I pursue my future career.”
Isabella I. ’18 intern
Dr. Victoria Coleman-Cowger, Battelle Centers
- “The NIDA Summer Research Internship Program allowed me to experience drug addiction research during a hands-on and immersive summer. I now have the skills necessary to succeed in neuroscience research and the confidence to pursue my passions in drug addiction research through graduate school.”
Melissa B., ’18 intern
Dr. Kathryn Reissner, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- “NIDA was the best internship I've been a part of thus far. The chance to work with other students and professors on child development in a clinical setting is rare. I have gained many experiences and connections that will help me for a very long time.”
Steven S. ’18 intern
Dr. Elizabeth Skowron, Prevention Science Institute
- “The NIDA Summer Internship Program experience inspired me and gave me the resources to begin my career as a research scientist. Being a NIDA scholar continues to give me funding, networking, and other invaluable opportunities”.
Jacqueline Q. ’15 intern
Dr. Chitra Mandyam, San Diego State University
- “I had the opportunity to be co-authored on a research paper, which was a very special opportunity that I doubt I would have found elsewhere.”
Calumina M. ’18 intern
Dr. Anna Rose Childress, University of Pennsylvania
- “NIDA gave me the opportunity to gain experience in a field I had never discovered before. I worked with some of the top researchers in the Psychiatric field of online interventions, and with help from mentors, I finally determined what graduate programs I want to apply to.”
Abby H., ’18 intern
Dr. Danielle Ramo, University of California, San Francisco
- “The NIDA summer research internship was the most enriching summer experience I have ever had. Because of my time as a NIDA intern, I was captivated to learn more about addiction research and how I could implement it into future medical practice.”
Amy K. – ’18 intern
Dr. Susan Tapert, University of California, San Diego
- “My research experiences this past summer was an amazing learning experience. I gained a certainty in knowing that I want to earn a dual PharmD/PhD degree after I graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.”
Ariana C. ’18 intern
Dr. Kathryn Reissner, North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- “This internship had an enormous impact in solidifying my passion to go onto a career in clinical psychology. I had an incredible experience with an amazing mentor and teacher.”
Vanessa C. ’18 intern
Dr. Anthony Spirito, Brown University
- "I would like to thank you for this amazing opportunity to be part of this internship that focuses on substance use/abuse research. I enjoyed working alongside the research team in the field and clinical supervision meetings. They were supportive and openly communicative when I needed assistance. I read literatures on drug use among Haitian youth, ethnography, history of unethical research, and the Haitian population in South Florida. This internship has inspired me to incorporate research, substance use, in my profession as a social worker. I would highly recommend my undergraduate peers to apply for this program."
Elanna S. ’20 intern
Dr. Louis Herns Marcelin, University of Miami
- "During my time working in Dr. Perrine’s lab, I have taken on a project focused around measuring fentanyl behavioral sensitization in rats. In this experiment, rats receive 3 different injection schemes over an 8-day period. The goal of the experiment is to determine if rats can become sensitized to fentanyl, which would be confirmed by higher locomotor activity levels on day 8 versus day 1. Female rats are also lavaged during each of the 8 days to track their estrous cycles with the goal of looking for potential roles’ estradiol plays in female locomotor activity. Through this on-going project, I have learned skills such as subcutaneous and intraperitoneal injections, lavage, experimental design, literature research and reviews, and data analysis."
Sean H. ’20 intern
Dr. Shane Perrine, Wayne State University School of Medicine
- “I just want to let you know that both of my summer interns were outstanding. Thank you for your outstanding program, which for my lab has been a wonderful and productive experience over the years.”
Dr. Joshua Corbin, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
- “It was my absolute pleasure to mentor and host Karina A. during her 2018 NIDA Research Summer Internship. Thank you for choosing me as one of the NIDA mentors for this exciting program.”
Dr. Feri Nugent, The Henry M. Jackson Foundation
- “I just wanted to thank you for posting this information to the SPSP listserv. I passed it on to some of my students and one applied and was accepted. I just wanted you to know that that little act opened some pretty big doors for a really deserving person.”
Dr. Heather Haas, The University of Montana Western
- “I had a terrific student, Juan V, who conducted 2 different experiments on the optogenetic control of alcohol dependence and the role of GABA release in the amygdala in nicotine dependence. He is very talented and a hard worker, I am hoping to convince him to pursue a career in the addiction field.”
Dr. Olivier George, The Scripps Research Institute
- "I wanted to let you know that it was an amazing experience to have a NIDA Summer Intern in my laboratory last summer. She was extremely motivated and productive and helped in a manuscript that just got published in Molecular Pain. She is currently working part time in my laboratory finishing up experiments for a manuscript in preparation. She is also working on her application for graduate school. I just wanted to let you know how wonderful the experience has been for me. Thanks again for all your help."
Josee Guindon, DVM, Ph.D., Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center