We encourage all GW students interested in a health profession to get research experience in a lab. Working in a lab setting will help make you a competitive applicant; it will also help you to determine if a career in medicine or medical research is right for you.
It is important to note that by “research” we mean hypothesis-driven (versus mechanistic, in which you may be building or constructing something) research in a lab setting. Clinical research is a strong asset as well, but its value lies mainly in patient exposure rather than the merit of the research project.
Finding a Research Opportunity
Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research
Many research assistant positions, both paid and unpaid, are posted on the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research through Handshake. Here you can find information about the types of research you can get involved in at GW and apply for undergraduate fellowships and research.
AAMC Summer Research Database
The AAMC Summer Research database is an extensive resource to help students locate and apply for summer research programs.
Career Services Pre-Health Newsletter
Many health-related opportunities such as research, internships, jobs and events will be posted in this weekly newsletter. Please sign up through the Career Services website and be on the lookout for your next big opportunity!
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a competitive Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research (SIP). The application cycle opens in mid-November and it is to your advantage to apply early.
Connect with a Professor
Most students at GW gain lab experience by working with a professor. Usually, this is a professor the student has had for a class who has observed their strengths and sees their potential. When you take science courses at GW, get to know the professor. Ask and answer questions during class. Stop by their office hours. Find out what kind of research they do. Ask them if they are looking for research assistants. A great place to learn about what your professors research is on their faculty bio page or on the department webpage.
Departmental Research Inquiries
We encourage students to also seek opportunities beyond their own professors. You may want to reach out to biology, chemistry or physics faculty who are doing research that interests you. Look them up online to learn about their areas of research. The GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences has a number of research facilities. Explore ones of interest and find out what they are doing.
Don't know where to start? Try the GW Expert Finder to explore faculty who work in your area of interest.
Include the following in your inquiry email:
- Your interest in their particular area of research. Be sure to demonstrate knowledge about what they are doing.
- Your year in school and how many years/semesters you have remaining to participate in research — the more time, the better!
- Your availability to work in the lab and what days of the week (if you know)
- Whether you are interested in a position in the summer and if you need a stipend to support your participation
- Any lab experience you’ve had (classroom experience counts)
- A list of the science classes you have taken, which may or may not include your grades
- Your overall and/or science GPA
- Your telephone and email
The AAMC provides additional suggestions for procuring a laboratory position.
Research at Home over the Summer
Will you be home over the summer? Look into area universities, medical schools and hospitals to explore research opportunities. The Rochester Institute of Technology maintains a list of internship and summer research opportunities across the country, as well as some international programs. The list can be sorted by state or by career/research interest areas and is updated bi-weekly. Syracuse University’s Health Professions Advising Office also hosts a list of summer opportunities.
Most research opportunities are not paid, but GW funds several research fellowships that we encourage you to explore. If you can secure funding, it could allow you to stay at GW for a summer and gain rich research experience. The Columbian College also offers several undergraduate research funding opportunities, including the Robert Vincent Fellowship Fund, Luther Rice Undergraduate Research Fellowship and STEM Summer Laboratory Internship Program.