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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Become a Summer Intern

The Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) offers a summer research internship for students interested in exploring careers in cancer epidemiology, biostatistics, and genetics. The program is open to high school, college, postbaccalaureate masters-level students, and graduate students, including medical and dental students. Successful applicants join the Division for at least eight weeks between May and September. Under the supervision of a Division researcher, summer interns conduct research in selected areas of epidemiologic or genetic investigation. This program is part of the NIH Summer Internship Program (SIP) in Biomedical Research.

COVID_19 UPDATE: Due to continued uncertainties about travel and operations across the US, final decisions about the NIH Summer Internship Program are delayed. While we will begin taking applications in late November, it is possible that all 2021 internships will be virtual/remote. Our priority is the safety of our staff, trainees, and communities. Find updates and additional information regarding the NIH Summer Internship Program 2021. We would welcome your application, given this information. In the meantime, questions may be directed to our DCEG Summer Internship Coordinator, Ms. Diane Wigfield.

Interns are encouraged to attend lectures offered under the NIH Summer Seminar Series, participate in DCEG meetings and seminars, attend formal NIH lectures and symposia, and participate in the NIH Summer Research Program Poster Day and the DCEG Poster Day.

Why Study Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is often called the science of public health. It is described as the study of the distribution and determinants of disease risk in human populations. Epidemiologists study a diverse range of health conditions as well as the impact that various exposures have on the manifestation of disease. DCEG research has had tremendous impact on public health.

Watch DCEG: Uncovering the causes of cancer, training future researchers

DCEG Research Portfolio

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Research

DCEG Summer Interns

DCEG summer interns describe what they learned and valued most about their time in the Division.

DCEG researchers work on a variety of population studies and develop novel analytic techniques. Our investigators serve as invaluable mentors to interns on a wide range of research topics. Read more on our Principal Investigators page.

Laboratory Research

DCEG offers a limited number of summer laboratory research positions, mostly in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics. Students who are interested in laboratory research should also visit the NIH Research and Training website for information about research at other NIH institutes.

Specific Research Areas


  • Descriptive studies to characterize cancer trends
  • Analysis of large-scale data sets
  • Statistical models for predicting cancer risk

Clinical Genetics

  • Cancer predisposition syndromes
  • Genetic modifiers of cancer risk
  • Telomere biology disorders

Integrative Tumor Epidemiology

  • Advance understanding of cancer etiology and progression
  • Perform integrative analyses of environmental and germline risk factors with comprehensive data on histological and molecular profiling of tumors and their precursors

Infections and Immunoepidemiology

  • Prospective cohorts at high risk of AIDS
  • Oncogenic viruses
  • Immunosuppression and cancer

Metabolic Epidemiology

  • Hormones
  • Tobacco and other exposures
  • Energy balance /obesity
  • Dietary intake and micronutrients

Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology

  • Pesticides and agricultural exposures
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Environmental exposures
  • Exposure assessment

Radiation Epidemiology

  • Medical radiation exposures
  • Occupational radiation exposures
  • Environmental radiation exposures
  • Radiation dosimetry

Translational Genomics

  • Relationship of germline genetic variation to cancer
  • Detection and mapping of cancer susceptibility alleles
  • Bioinformatic analyses of genetic variants

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

  • High school students who are at least 17 years of age by June 15, 2021, must be either juniors or seniors, and who, if they are under 18 at the time of application, must reside within 40 miles of the NIH campus on which they hope to intern. (See more information on the summer high school program)
  • College students and individuals who will be starting college in the fall
  • Graduate students (that is, individuals working towards a Ph.D. or master's degree)
  • Professional school (medical, dental, pharmacy, etc) students

Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, who are enrolled in (or accepted to) high school, college or university as undergraduate, graduate, or professional students.

When does the application process start?
The application process for summer 2021 began in late November and will end on February 1, 2021 for high school students, and March 1, 2021 for college, graduate, and professional school students.

How long is a summer internship?
A typical summer internship lasts 8 to 10 weeks with a minimum requirement of 8 weeks. There is some flexibility depending on the student's schedule.

When does the summer internship start and end?
The internship begins in late May or early June and ends in August or September, but exact dates depend on the student's and the mentor's schedules.

How can I improve my chances of being selected for the DCEG Summer Internship Program?

After submitting your application, you should identify and contact investigators and/or postdoctoral fellows whose work interests you. Find a list of  DCEG Principal Investigators and their research interests. Once you have identified someone of interest and learned enough about what they are working on, you can send a direct email to them describing why you want to work with them and how you would be a good addition to their group. For more advice watch the NIH SIP video on applying to the summer program.   

Is the summer internship a paid position?
Yes. Summer interns receive a monthly stipend based on academic level.

Where is the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) located?
DCEG is located on the NCI Shady Grove campus at 9609 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, Maryland, 20850. Parking is available at the building.  Public transportation, using a combination of Metro and NCI shuttle bus, is also available. The closest Metro stop is “Shady Grove” on the Red Line, from which NCI shuttle buses run regularly to the NCI campus. Find more transportation information.

Where do summer interns live?
There are a variety of housing options in the surrounding area, including Rockville and Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, DC. However, because the program may be conducted virtually/remotely this summer, do not commit yourself financially until there is definitive information from the NIH Summer Internship Program.

How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in our summer program. The application process for summer 2021 is now closed. Please check this page in mid-November to learn about the summer internship program for 2022.

NIH training programs welcome applications from all qualified individuals. The NIH does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, genetic make-up, gender identity, or sexual orientation.