Friday, January 9, 2009

The National Institutes of Health

About now, you undergraduate students studying from the 4th Edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology are probably starting to wonder what you'll be doing this summer. I suggest you consider an internship to do biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (application deadline: March 1). I can't think of a better first step toward a career applying physics to medicine and biology.

For seven years (1988-1995), I had the privilege of working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. According to wikipedia:
"The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. The Institutes are responsible for 28%—about $28 billion—of the total biomedical research funding spent annually in the U.S., with most of the rest coming from industry. The NIH is divided into two parts: the 'Extramural' parts of NIH are responsible for the funding of biomedical research outside of NIH, while the 'Intramural' parts of NIH conduct research. Intramural research is primarily conducted at the main campus in Bethesda."
I was part of the intramural Biomedical Engineering and Instrumentation Program, which no longer exists. (Now Bioengineering has an entire institute, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.) The mission of our group was to provide expertise in physics, engineering, and mathematics, and to collaborate with NIH's biologists and medical doctors. I learned much during my stay at NIH about how physics is applied to biomedicine. It was the ideal preparation for working on a book like Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology.

Doing research at NIH was a joy and an honor, and I highly recommend it to any physicist (or physics student) interested in biomedical applications. Apply for an internship today.

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