October 5, 2017
2017 NIAMS Summer Interns group photo
2017 summer interns with Robert Walker, Ph.D., Chief of the NIAMS Career Development and Outreach Branch (center, back row), and Stephanie Mathews, Ph.D., Scientific Program Manager (right, back row).

The NIAMS offers a Summer Research Internship Program on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., that provides outstanding opportunities for high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical students contemplating a career in biomedical research or academic medicine. Our 2017 summer interns received career mentoring from NIAMS researchers, attended lectures and symposia, engaged in basic and clinical research and gained notable experience that will help shape their career goals. Below, our interns described their experiences in their own words.

Mary Rostom photo

Mary Rostom, University of Pittsburgh

I spent this past summer working in Dr. Markus Hafner’s lab, and the experience was invaluable. Every day, I was able to learn and explore amazing scientific discoveries and was surrounded by individuals who supported me on my path towards a scientific career. Beyond learning a tremendous amount of lab skills, I also improved my critical thinking abilities and made amazing connections with other students and research fellows. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work at the NIH.

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Jazz Jacobs, Stevenson University

The NIH has taught me how to become a mature and professional student while learning cool stuff that happens in the medical/biomedical research field. For this reason, I was selected to return to the program for a second consecutive year in the NIAMS Autoimmunity Branch, to build on the research I conducted before. Yet again, I have grown scientifically and improved my analytical thinking, and I have enjoyed my time at the NIH!

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Naomi Colton, Norfolk State University

I was lucky enough to work in the lab of Dr. John O’Shea, which exposed me to the science of immunology. This summer, I was given the opportunity to learn new techniques and meet many new people. The NIH has been a welcoming environment where growth is not only expected, but highly encouraged. It has also opened my eyes to a bright future after my undergraduate studies, and has shown me a place where I can further discover what sort of scientific contribution I can add to the world.

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Navid Chowdhury, University of Maryland

The NIAMS Summer Internship Program has made me more eager and excited to pursue science and medicine. The environment of friendly collaboration, intense scientific investigation and openness to learning and teaching is extremely hard to find anywhere else, and truly makes this program what it is—not to mention the breakthrough investigations that are being done here. The opportunity to discuss your work with people who are leaders and pathfinders in their respective fields is an amazing experience. This program is what science should be like, everywhere.

Talia Solomon photo

Talia Solomon, Carnegie Mellon University

The NIAMS Summer Internship Program has been an amazing, immersive research experience. I have learned so much about scientific careers from working in the lab every day. I have also gained many important lab skills while working on my research project. The program has also reaffirmed my interest in pursuing a career in medical research. 

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Briana Cervantes, Florida International University

This summer, I was so lucky to have done research within the NIAMS and work under Dr. Eric Hanson, unraveling the mechanistic properties of the NF-kB pathway. I specifically studied NEMO, the essential modulator, and its degradation by A20, a negative regulator, using different types of novel microscopy to visualize the interaction between both proteins. I had the opportunity to observe exceptional medical doctors in the rheumatology clinic and witness patients with the rarest forms of disease within the field. I am so grateful to the NIH for giving me exposure to the foremost research in medicine and allowing me to make a contribution. This incredible experience will forever live in me as I take everything I learned into my professional career.

Victoria Mischley photo

Victoria Mischley, University of South Florida

This summer, I have learned a variety of valuable skills to help further my science career. Not only did I gain many new research skills, I also improved my networking skills and received advice from top scientists. This gave me a sense of confidence that there is a place for me in science. This summer program has given me insight into all aspects of the research field, and I will be able to apply that to my future career.

Keyanna Franklin, University of Maryland

My experience in the Summer Internship Program at the NIAMS surpassed my expectations! Initially, I entered the program unsure of my skills and qualifications, especially to be selected as a summer intern at the prestigious NIH. However, the staff, the scientists and the students were very encouraging and provided me with many resources. I was placed in a lab under a brilliant PI, Dr. Paul Wingfield, and under the amazing guidance of Dr. Altaira Dearborn. Dr. Dearborn exposed me to many techniques and taught me unforgettable science. I found myself looking forward to going to work just for our many talks about her research. To be surrounded by so many scientists whose passion for science translated in their work was inspiring. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Dearborn and the NIAMS for this incredible experience!

Daria Coffield photo

Daria Coffield, Howard University

My time here at the NIAMS has been rewarding and insightful. My exposure to the groundbreaking research being conducted here has inspired me to pursue more research positions in my undergraduate career. Furthermore, it has encouraged me to start an organization at my university to help other students become involved in the great work being done at the NIH and to find mentorships with the nation's leading doctors and researchers.

Kathleen Marinelli photo

Kathleen Marinelli, Creighton University

I had an amazing second summer as an intern at the NIAMS. I characterized stenoses and pseudostenoses within the subclavian/axillary arteries on Magnetic Resonance Angiography in large vessel vasculitis under the mentorship of Dr. Peter Grayson. In addition to my research project, Dr. Grayson allowed me to be a very active participant in the clinic, where I was able to see patients weekly and be a part of the decision-making process for the treatment of their difficult disease. These past two summers have played a pivotal role in my decision to pursue a career in translational research.

Somin Kim photo

Somin Kim, Emory University

This summer as a returning intern has been amazing. Working at the NIH has taught me such a diverse set of techniques—even though I worked in the Autoimmunity Branch at the NIAMS, I was taught RNA sequencing analysis and was able to collaborate with the National Eye Institute! This summer, my project focused on a set of patients with a mutation in a certain gene. We found that these patients exhibited abnormal B and T cell populations, and the goal of my project was to show these phenotypes in vitro and identify the genes the minor spliceosome targets that affect normal T-cell differentiation and proliferation. My experiences at the NIAMS have provided me with wonderful mentors and publication opportunities—I highly recommend this renowned program!

Rachel Patterson photo

Rachel Patterson, St. Louis University

As a summer student at the NIH, I was able to work on an individualized research project under the supervision and guidance of a principal investigator. Though the weeks flew by, I was able to learn and refine a variety of laboratory skills and techniques. Being a part of the NIAMS enhanced the experience as everyone was invested in making me a better scientist, and pushing me to strengthen my laboratory, networking and communication skills.

Tiffany Ybarra photo

Tiffany Ybarra, California State University, Los Angeles

At first, I was hesitant to accept an internship that was across the country, but as they say, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I am very happy that I chose to spend my summer at the NIH because it helped to open my eyes to the real world of scientific research. I enjoyed my internship this summer and now have a very valuable research experience under my belt. 

Tiffany Najadifar photo

Tiffany Najadifar, University of Pittsburgh

This summer, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Heidi Kong in the Dermatology Branch. By investigating the skin microbiome in healthy volunteers and those with primary immunodeficiency syndromes, I was able to learn a great deal about the clinical aspects of laboratory research and interact with patients who were part of the study. The diversity of research being done here is amazing, and I greatly appreciate the NIH for encouraging students to stay curious, promote discovery and thrive in science.

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