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2021 Virtual Summer Internship Program

, by Maura Kate Costello, M.A.

Collage of headshots of summer interns

DCEG Summer Interns 2021

During the summer of 2021, NCI held its summer internship program virtually for the first time, welcoming 275 interns from across the United States, 30 of whom performed research and were mentored in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). In the past, summer interns were organized independently by each group, but this year the NCI’s Center for Cancer Training, Frederick National Lab, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), and DCEG worked together to organize orientations, workshops, trainings, and other summer activities. This collaborative effort will continue in the years to come.

"As a group we really had to think about how to prepare and ‘train’ our mentors on how to mentor all summer interns virtually and we had to figure out what the program would look like,” said Diane Wigfield, program manager in the DCEG Office of Education (OE). “This was something completely new for the summer program and we all had to adjust quickly.”

The NCI training staff worked together to create handbooks and a program website, develop and host virtual orientations, and partner with the NCI IT team to create a virtual platform and send out laptops to all the students. There were a lot of moving parts to get the program up and running and keep it as successful as in previous years. 

Over 40 investigators, staff scientists, and trainees from DCEG mentored interns, the majority of whom were undergraduate, though there were three graduate, three post-master’s, and one professional school student. Interns worked with their mentors on summer projects, which many presented at end-of-summer poster sessions organized by NIH and DCEG.

To enrich the internship experience, and to complement the sessions organized by the other NCI and NIH training offices, the OE hosted several workshops where current NCI fellows shared about their career paths and experiences working at the NCI. These included: “NIH Science at Home,” with Amber Hurson, Ph.D., M.P.H., from DCEG, Amanda Acevedo from DCCPS, Molly Congdon and Dipak Poria from NCI – Frederick, and Christian Okafor from the Center for Cancer Research; “DCEG Young Investigator Panel,” with Summer Harvey, M.P.H., postbaccalaureate fellow in the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB), Frank J. Colón-Matos, B.S., postbaccalaureate fellow in the Integrated Tumor Epidemiology Branch, and Ian Buller, Ph.D., M.A., postdoctoral fellow in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch; and “Getting into Medical School: Advice from a Recent Graduate,” with Michael R. Sargen, M.D., assistant clinical investigator in CGB.

Additional workshops and training offered opportunities for professional development, including “Making the Most of Your Mentoring Relationship” with Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of OE; “Epidemiology 101,” an 8-session course covering the basics of epidemiology, delivered by DCEG fellows; and for interns in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics, the “LTG Summer Session,” which included nine sessions on topics ranging from genetic sequencing to presentation skills, organized by postbaccalaureate fellow, Timothy Ring, B.S., and Chief and Senior Investigator, Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D.

Applications for the Summer Internship Program are accepted every year from mid-November through March 1st.