The GW-NIH Graduate Partnership Program

Getting Started: The First Year in the Program

All students in the Biomedical Sciences program at GW enter into a combined curriculum. Students are enrolled full-time in the core curriculum and take the Core Courses BMSC 8210 and BMSC 8212 in sequence.

Students are enrolled in the IBS for an entire calendar year. The IBS or GW/NIH fellowship during the first year is a 12-month appointment. During the summer after their first year they are expected to be doing class work and to be completing their final laboratory rotation (BMSC 8215) and to start working in the laboratory of the mentors they have chosen for their independent research.

Core courses are taken together in the IBS and a Ph.D. program in the area of specialization chosen after the first two semesters of coursework. During the first year, the Academic Advisor is the Director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences (IBS). After a Ph.D. program is chosen, the Program Director provides academic advising for the student. Students are expected to maintain at least a 3.0 average. The IBS continues to provide support in other areas, especially as the time of dissertation defense approaches.

Research Opportunities

Students in the GW-NIH Partnership Program may choose to do their dissertation research in an NIH lab or to work on a collaborative project between laboratories at NIH and GW. The NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) is comprised of ~1200 tenured and tenure track investigators. There are three GW sites: the GW campus at Foggy Bottom, including SMHS, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and the Children's National Health System. At least 50% of research time must be spent at the NIH. By working with two scientists instead of just one, students benefit from a broader scientific training, learn different, often contrasting approaches to a research question, and acquire invaluable professional skills for managing research collaborations. Collaboration has become the hallmark of modern science and it is critical for future scientists to learn early how to excel at working with other scientists and across disciplinary boundaries. Alternatively, the student may perform dissertation research solely at NIH. In this case, the student must identify a co-mentory from one of the GW campuses.

Research Rotations

Students in the NIH Graduate Partnership Program are required to perform four laboratory rotations. A list of available rotation mentors is available through the IBS or the NIH OITE. The first rotation is done the summer before courses begin. This rotation runs from July through August. Exact rotation dates are announced each year, but generally run from late September through early December, and from mid- January to mid-April. At the end of June, a permanent laboratory pair should be chosen for dissertation research.

Program Choice

Students in the GW-NIH Partnership Program may elect to earn a Ph.D. in any of the three programs offered in the Biomedical Sciences at GW. The choice is made in the spring of the first year. A form will be distributed to all first year students stating the exact due date. Introductory courses in each program are taken in the spring to help guide the students in making this choice. The three Ph.D. Programs available include Biochemistry and Systems Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Molecular Medicine. The GW faculty member in whose lab the student chooses to do research must be a member of the program the student chooses. Forms are submitted to the IBS office, who will then route them to the appropriate programs. Program Directors will notify students of acceptance into the individual Programs.

Dissertation Research Proposals

Proposals for GW-NIH Partnership Program students are due in May of the second year. Guidelines for writing of the Proposal are provided in the IBS Handbook.

Important Links


If you have additional questions about the GW-NIH Graduate Partnership Program, please contact one of the following individuals:

Stanley Lipkowitz, MD, PhD
Co-Director, NIH Graduate Partnership Program
Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health
Phone: (301) 402- 4276