BRI Undergraduate Research Summer Internship Program 2019

Applications for the Summer 2019 Internship are now closed.


The internship programs hosted by the Brigham Research Institute provides undergraduate students with a focused and challenging summer research experience in a cutting-edge science laboratory.

Interns will have the opportunity to obtain a research training experience in a laboratory or research setting at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


There is a $2,500 stipend to assist with accommodation and other expenses for the summer.



Applications Close: January 14, 2019
Decisions Announced: late February 2019
Program Dates for Internship:  June 10, 2019 – August 16, 2019


  • Applicants must demonstrate a committed interest to pursue graduate study toward a PhD, MD or MD-PhD.
  • Applicants must currently be enrolled full-time in an accredited public or private college or university.
  • Applicants must be in good academic standing with a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • Applicants must be a US citizen or non-citizen national with a permanent residence visa.
  • Previous research experience in a biological laboratory is desirable, but not required.


  • A resume or curriculum vitae.
  • A copy of your transcripts to date.
  • A personal statement describing in <500 words:
    • Your educational and professional goals.
    • How participation in the BRI Summer Internship Program will assist in meeting your goals.
    • Your qualifications and reasons for wishing to participate in this program.
  • Two letters of recommendation and the contact information of two references.
  • The names of the top three researchers you would most like to work with.



Prepare and submit the online application. The application cannot be saved in the portal. Please prepare all materials before submitting.

Request your supporting materials and confirm they are to be received by our office by January 14, 2019:

  • An official copy of your transcript from your current undergraduate institution (If you have been at your current institution less than one year, please submit a transcript from your prior institution.)
    • eTranscripts may be submitted in the online application form or emailed to
    • Paper transcripts may be mailed to:
Brigham Research Institute
One Brigham Circle, 3rd Floor
1620 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02120
  • Two letters of recommendation (you must make these requests) must be sent by the letter writer to or may be mailed to the address listed above.



To see a list of available host labs, please see the internship programs hosted by the research labs below. 


Lynn Bry, MD, PhD

The Bry Lab studies host-pathogen-commensal interactions in the gut, particularly effects of anaerobic bacterial metabolism on host physiology, and how host and other microbiota influence the behavior of pathogens such as C. difficile, or of horizontal gene transfer among bacteria. Projects include genetic and metabolic studies of commensal anaerobes, and of microbially-produced small molecules that affect the gut epithelium, immune system, and other microbes. Our lab leads the Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center, an entity that broadly supports groups studying how our colonizing microbiota influences health and disease. The Center includes multiple high-throughput ‘comic platforms, and the largest germfree mouse facility in the northeast. The fruits of our efforts are being developed into novel therapeutics for diseases such as human food allergies and to reduce risks of infections in neonates and hospitalized patients.

Brian Cade, PhD


Dr. Brian Cade is a member of the Sleep Medicine Epidemiology Program within the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. He uses genetic epidemiology tools to investigate normal and disordered sleep along with related comorbidities, with an emphasis on obstructive sleep apnea. He led the first genetic analysis that discovered a genome-wide significant association with sleep apnea, and continues to build study power through traditional and electronic health record-based study designs. He is also performing rare-variant association analyses of sleep apnea on thousands of individuals with whole-genome sequencing as part of the state-of-the-art NHLBI Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) consortium.


Multiple project opportunitiesfor interns exist both with Dr. Cade and with other members of the group. These projects would be largely computationally based. Dozens of sleep phenotypes remain unexplored using genome-wide data, either focused on sleep apnea or on more general traits such as sleep stage transitions. Many of these traits can also be studied in TOPMed. Other project examples include cluster analyses to identify sub-types of sleep apnea, or probing shared genetic architecture between sleep traits and related comorbidities (e.g. diabetes).

Damien C. Croteau-Chonka, PhD

The Systems Genetics and Genomics Unit of the Channing Division of Network Medicine has traditionally focused on the genetic and environmental determinants of complex respiratory diseases.  Although asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease continue to be areas of great interest, additional disease areas will be studied using a variety of integrated genomics approaches. Dr. Damien Croteau-Chonka is interested in understanding the shared genetic mechanisms of obesity and asthma. He works closely with his research mentors, Drs. Benjamin Raby and Jessica Lasky-Su.


Potential Projects:

Potential projects would include curating and/or analyzing genetic and genomic data from respiratory disease cohorts. There will be a heavy emphasis on biostatistics and computer programming.


Lab Website:

Faculty Profiles: 

Mark W. Feinberg, MD

Dr. Mark W. Feinberg is a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In addition, he is an affiliated faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.


Dr. Feinberg received his medical degree from Medical College of Pennsylvania. He completed an internal medicine residency at Duke University Medical Center. He then completed two cardiology fellowships: a research fellowship at Harvard School of Public Health and a clinical fellowship at BWH. Dr. Feinberg is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology.


Dr. Feinberg’s clinical interests include noninvasive clinical cardiology, vascular medicine, and cardiovascular disease prevention. Dr. Feinberg directs an NIH-funded basic science laboratory that investigates mechanisms leading to the development of atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease) and myocardial infarction (heart attack). These studies have revealed novel and unexpected pathophysiological roles for microRNAs, lincRNAs, and transcriptional regulators in vascular inflammation and repair, with therapeutic implications for ischemic cardiovascular disease and other acute and chronic inflammatory diseases.


Dr. Feinberg has held various leadership roles in cardiovascular research including his service on national peer review study sections, editorial service, and as a Co-Chair of the Brigham Research Institute’s CVDM Center.


Selected publications:

Sun X, Icli B, Wara AK, Belkin N, He S, Kobzik L, Hunninghake GM, Vera MP; MICU Registry., Blackwell TS, Baron RM, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-181b regulates NF-κB-mediated vascular inflammation. J Clin Invest. 2012;122(6):1973-90. PubMed PMID: 22622040. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3366408.


Sun X, He S, Wara AK, Icli B, Shvartz E, Tesmenitsky Y, Belkin N, Li D, Blackwell TS, Sukhova GK, Croce K, Feinberg MW. Systemic delivery of microRNA-181b inhibits nuclear factor-κB activation, vascular inflammation, and atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Circ Res. 2014 Jan 3;114(1):32-40. PubMed PMID: 24084690; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4051320.


Sun X, Lin J, Zhang Y, Kang S, Belkin N, Wara AK, Icli B, Hamburg NM, Li D, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-181b Improves Glucose Homeostasis and Insulin Sensitivity by Regulating Endothelial Function in White Adipose Tissue. Circ Res. 2016 Mar 4;118(5):810-21. PubMed PMID: 26830849; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4779381.


Lin J, He S, Sun X, Franck G, Deng Y, Yang D, Haemmig S, Wara AK, Icli B, Li D, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-181b inhibits thrombin-mediated endothelial activation and arterial thrombosis by targeting caspase recruitment domain family member 10. FASEB J. 2016 Sep;30(9):3216-26. PubMed PMID: 27297585; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5001512.


Icli B, Wara AK, Moslehi J, Sun X, Plovie E, Cahill M, Marchini JF, Schissler A, Padera RF, Shi J, Cheng HW, Raghuram S, Arany Z, Liao R, Croce K, MacRae C, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-26a regulates pathological and physiological angiogenesis by targeting BMP/SMAD1 signaling. Circ Res. 2013 Nov 8;113(11):1231-41. PubMed PMID: 24047927; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4068743.


Haemmig S. and Feinberg MW. Targeting lncRNAs in Cardiovascular Disease: Options and Expeditions. Circ Res. 2017 Feb 17;120(4):620-23. PubMed PMID: 28209793; PubMed Central PMCID:

Natasha Y. Frank, MD

Research in the Frank laboratory explores the biology of stem cells and their roles in physiologic organogenesis, repair and malignant transformation, with the ultimate goal of developing novel stem cell-targeted strategies in the fields of tissue regeneration and cancer.


Potential projects include:

1. Role of the stem cell ABCB5 in glioblastoma therapeutic resistance.

2. Epigenetic regulation of stem cell aging.

Silvia Giannini, PhD

Understanding the mechanisms controlling platelet production is key to the development of new strategies to treat patients with thrombocytopenia due to congenital disorders or cancer treatment. Our laboratory investigates the role of protein glycosylation in hematopoietic stem cell function, megakaryocyte differentiation and platelet production with particular focus on a specific glycan structure (lactosaminyl glycan or LacNAc). We study how LacNAc expressed on hematopoietic stem cells regulates their homing and engraftment following bone marrow transplant. We are also investigating how LacNAc decorating megakaryocyte adhesion receptors tightly regulates megakaryocyte interaction with the bone marrow environment and therefore platelet production in physiologic conditions and in myeloproliferative neoplasms.


Potential projects include:

Study the changes in glycosylation that occur in bone marrow cells in myeloproliferative neoplasms and identify novel therapeutic targets

Julie Glowacki, PhD

Julie Glowacki, PhD; Director, Skeletal Biology Research Laboratory Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School and of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Harvard School of Dental Medicine


Dr. Glowacki studies mechanisms of skeletal pathology, aging, and impaired fracture and wound healing. Common skeletal disorders include osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and impairments in healing of traumatic injuries. Risk factors for skeletal disease are being investigated. This program includes stem cell and drug discovery approaches to identify novel solutions to those common orthopedic problems.


Interns have the opportunity to receive training in methods of cell culture, gene expression analyses, histology, statistics, and scientific writing. Past trainees have contributed data to research abstracts, presentations, and publications as co-authors.

Jessica Harder, MD

The Harder Lab studies immune biomarkers of depressive symptomatology and predictors of treatment response across spectrum of unipolar and bipolar depressive disorders and premenstrual exacerbations of mood symptoms.


Potential projects include:

Study of salicylate augmentation of antidepressant treatment or study of mood symptoms across the menstrual cycle, both evaluating immune biomarkers.

Annette Kim, MD, PhD

The Kim lab research program is focused on the study of normal and aberrant hematopoiesis, particularly in the study of hematolymphoid malignancies such as myelodysplastic syndromes. Our research program has identified diagnostic and prognostic small non-coding RNAs in MDS via next generation sequencing and has defined the role of hypermethylation in the regulation of miRNAs in MDS. We are currently examining the effects of potential therapeutic compounds on cellular function in miRNA-based models of the MDS and in primary clinical samples using single cell phenotyping by mass cytometry with correlation to the mutational profiles and functional activity of these samples. In addition, we are conducting translational research on mutational profiles and developing informatics support tools for test utilization projects.


Potential projects include:

Neutrophil transwell migration assays (how various drug treatments affect the function of normal and diseased neutrophils) mutational profiling and assay development in minimal residual disease testing in leukemias development of informatics tools to create patient flowsheets and dashboards

Meryl Leboff, MD

The Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis Center and Bone Density Unit are directed by Meryl S. LeBoff, MD, who founded this Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in 1987. Since that time, it has become a multifaceted program including research, education, clinical care, and a bone densitometry unit. Additionally, the BWH Bone Density and Body Composition Research Core uses the latest technology to provide high quality, reproducible measures of bone mineral density and body composition by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Dr. LeBoff has been the principal investigator on two NIH-sponsored R01 grants: 1) Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL): Effects on Bone Structure and Architecture and 2) VITAL: Fractures, Vitamin D and Genetic Markers. These are two ancillary studies to the large VITAL study, which is a 2×2 factorial randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of supplemental vitamin D and/ or omega-3 fatty acids for the primary prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease in over 25,871 older adults from all 50 states. Research projects include studies of the effects of vitamin D and/ or fish oil on musculoskeletal health.

Alexander Lin, PhD

The focus of our lab is on the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) across a broad range of diseases. Often described as a “virtual biopsy”, MRS utilizes conventional clinical MRI scanners to measure the concentrations of certain chemicals in our bodies to better understand the underlying pathophysiology of disease all without the use of invasive or radioactive means. Our current research focuses on traumatic brain injury, including a study on soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as retired NFL athletes with a history of repetitive head injury. It is our hope that by understanding the biochemical changes that occur in the brains of these subjects, we can not only gain insight into the effects of TBI but also help to diagnose injury early. We also have ongoing studies in schizophrenia, chronic pain, and Alzheimer’s disease. Recently we’ve been involved in developing software for the advanced data analysis of MRS data that is a part of a spin-off startup company from the lab. We seek students interested in any of these aspects to help further our studies with unique opportunities to interact with patients and be involved in cutting-edge research.


Potential projects include:

Student projects will be customized to the skillsets of the students. For example, those with programming skills will have the opportunity to work on machine-learning oriented projects whereas those with laboratory skills will have projects that focus on creating 3D biochemical models of the brain.

Ronald L. Neppl, PhD

The Neppl Research Group is focused on the molecular regulation of skeletal and cardiac muscle homeostasis in health and disease. Our overarching goal is to understand how ncRNAs control the essential processes of myogenesis, hypertrophic growth, and tissue remodeling. Importantly, we aim to understand how perturbations in these processes may lead to a disease state resulting in functional impairments of muscle. Using traditional biochemical and molecular biology techniques, in vivo and in vitro model systems, as well as next generation RNA sequencing, we seek to discover and understand the biological roles these ncRNAs play in the maintenance of muscle functionality.


Potential projects include:

  • Metabolic phenotyping of novel genetically modified mice
  • Gene expression analyses of sarcopenic and dystrophic muscles
  • Morphometric analyses of myocardial remodeling

Charles Keith Ozaki, MD

Our basic research efforts broadly aim to delineate the mechanisms by which physical forces alter the morphology of the blood vessel wall. We hold expertise specifically in the adaptations of the vein bypass graft, an extreme example of acute perturbation of the hemodynamic environment combined with vascular trauma. The strength of our approach is a network of key collaborators at Harvard (e.g. Dr. James R. Mitchell) and beyond who synergistically partner with us to better the lives of patients with vascular disease. Recent investigative efforts have focused on inflammatory, adipose, and hydrogen sulfide driven mechanisms of vascular adaptations to physical forces. Emerging directions expand (in both animal models and humans) this foundation of knowledge into links between short-term dietary restriction and subsequent endogenous hydrogen sulfide upregulation, adipose biology, and robust analyses of the longitudinal interplay between local hemodynamic factors and such biologic mediators. Finally, as a clinician-scientist led group we also hold a diverse but complementary clinical research portfolio, and we leverage our clinical research enterprise to accelerate translational steps for our basic research.


Lab website:

Amitabh Sharma, PhD

Sharma Lab at Channing Division of Network Medicine focuses on a broad area of systems medicine and high throughput experimental data ranging from genomics to health care records. We explore the relationship between the different type of interaction networks and human disease and aim to gain a deeper knowledge of the molecular bases of pathological processes. The complexity of biological systems motivates us to use the network and computational based to provide a deep understanding of disease etiology. A deeper knowledge of the cell networks and molecular bases that drive pathological processes will inspire novel therapeutic strategies, ultimately leading to the development of more effective and safer drugs to fight complex diseases. We focus on providing prominent predictive models to integrate ‘omics’ data aided by the systems and network biology. An integrated understanding of the interactions among the genome, the proteome, the environment, and the pathophenome, mediated by the underlying cellular network, offers a basis for future advances. Such advances will help us to understand the structure and the workings of the wiring diagram — the prerequisite towards identifying the components whose functions need to be maintained and those whose activity must be altered with drugs.

Jeffrey A. Sparks, MD, MMSc

Lab Website

Our group has an overall focus on using patient-oriented and epidemiologic research studies to evaluate the etiology, outcomes, and public health burden of rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In particular, we perform studies to evaluate the genetic, environmental, serologic, and familial risk factors for RA, clinical trials for RA prevention, RA outcomes research focusing on the respiratory burden of RA, evaluate the effect of metabolic factors such as weight loss on RA outcomes, and investigate rheumatic manifestations of osseous sarcoidosis. We use large population-based studies for these studies, including the Nurses’ Health Studies, the Studies for the Etiology of RA, the Partners electronic medical record, the Brigham RA Sequential Study, and pharmacy claims databases. We also perform clinical trials including the Personalized Risk Estimator for RA (PRE-RA) Family Study, the Strategy to Prevent the Onset of Clinically-Apparent RA (StopRA), and the Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT).


The intern will work on several funded clinical research studies in a team consisting of the Principal Investigator, Study Coordinator, data analysts, and co-investigators.

The StopRA Study: clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for prevention of rheumatoid arthritis

StopRA recruits participants using many strategies which include reviewing immunology lab reports, medical record review, contacting Partners Biobank participants, advertising to healthy volunteers, and advertising to cohorts of known first-degree relatives of RA patients. The summer intern will assist the research coordinators in all areas of recruitment including chart reviews, patient calls, physician emails, and patient mailings. StopRA conducts regular pre-screening visits and has multiple participants enrolled who return to BWH for scheduled study visits. The summer intern will also assist the research coordinators in scheduling StopRA visits, preparing visit materials and completing post-visit activities such as data entry.


BRASS-ILD Study: Brigham RA Sequential Study screening for interstitial lung disease 

BRASS-ILD recruits participants who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and are research active. The summer intern would help research coordinators with BRASS-ILD study visit recruitment, including patient calls and patient mailings, and study visit activities, such as the spinning and processing of blood. The summer intern would also be able to help with data entry and data cleaning for this study.

Ali Tavakkoli, MD and Eric Sheu, MD, PhD

PIs: Ali Tavakkoli, MD and Eric Sheu MD, PhD


The Laboratory of Surgical and Metabolic Research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that lead to resolution of type 2 diabetes after bariatric surgery. We are particularly interested in changes in gastrointestinal tract metabolism and immunology that contribute to early, weight-loss independent improvements in glucose metabolism. To unravel these mechanisms, we utilize rodent surgical models and perform translational and clinical studies in patients. Our overall goal is to develop better, less invasive treatments for diabetes and obesity. Our work is funded by the NIH, Harvard Catalyst, foundation, and industry grants.

Phillip Jason White, PhD

The Focused Ultrasound Lab has pioneered the development of high-intensity focused ultrasound as a therapeutic modality. Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive and incision-free therapeutic technology with the potential to transform the treatment of many medical disorders, by using ultrasonic energy to target tissue deep in the body without incisions or radiation.


Potential projects include:

Transducer design, blood-brain barrier disruption, drug delivery, neuromodualtion.

Jeremy M. Wolfe, PhD

Research in the Visual Attention Lab centers on the problem of visual search: How do we find what we are looking for? In the medical setting, for example, we study how the properties of the human “search engine” constrain the ability of radiologists to screen for breast or lung cancer. Basic questions of current interest include: (1) How do we search for multiple things at the same time? and (2) How do you know when a search is done, whether it is a search for all of your child’s socks or all of your patient’s cancer? (3) How can humans and AI (e.g. deep learning) agents interact in a manner that makes the combination better than either human or AI alone? (4) Why do people miss clearly visible items? How can we reduce false negative errors in search tasks?


There would be a variety of projects related to the questions in the description of lab interests.