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Stanford ChEM-H - NIBR Pre-graduate Internship Program


Stanford ChEM-H has partnered with the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) to establish a pre-graduate intership program for incoming Stanford PhD students.

Have you ever wondered how basic science is translated into patient therapies? Are you looking for a unique, paid summer research experience before starting graduate school? Stanford ChEM-H, an interdisciplinary institute at Stanford University that aims to connect chemistry, engineering and medicine to advance human health, has partnered with the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) to establish a pre-graduate internship program for incoming Stanford PhD students. Interns will have the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge, independent research in a multidisciplinary setting at NIBR, exposing interns to collaborative investigation and offering them an insider’s view of how basic science is translated into therapies for patients.

Program Description

All admitted Stanford PhD students in chemistry, engineering, and the biosciences are welcome to apply, no prior industry experience is required. Selected students will be matched with a mentor at NIBR Cambridge, MA or Emeryville, CA based on the students’ scientific interests and expressed preferences. Internships are expected to start in early-June and end in late-August (start and end dates are flexible). Students will be paid a competitive hourly rate, but will be responsible for their own housing and travel costs.

Interns will be primarily engaged in research at the interface of chemistry and biology and will work in NIBR labs alongside their mentors and other lab members. During their time at NIBR, interns will also participate in lab meetings and seminars, as well as journal clubs specifically focused on their research. Students will be exposed to important research challenges, opportunities to rapidly develop research skills, and an inside look at some future career directions and collaboration opportunities.

To Apply

This program is not running in 2019. Please check back in winter 2020 for information about the 2020 application cycle.

Internship Project Areas

Internship opportunities are available in multiple areas. Past research areas have included:


  1. Small molecule hit generation approaches for difficult drug targets
  2. Exploration of alternate chemical space by designing isostere replacement of amide functional group. Traditional or novel chemistry will be used to synthesize several biocompatible and stable amide isosteres. After validation on automation platform, proposed technology and synthesis will be widely available to all NIBR small molecule projects to quickly explore isostere replacements of amide groups if needed.
  3. Reactivity of Cys-mutant proteins with electrophiles

Chemical Biology & Therapeutics: 

  1. Identification of the RNA targets of small molecules


  1. Optimization of gene delivery to mammalian cells. The intern will be involved in a gene therapy study targeting mammalian cells in vitro and in vivo. He/she will learn how to construct gene delivery plasmid vectors, amplify plasmid DNA in bacterial cells, perform gene delivery into mammalian cells, and study gene expression using different analytical methods.

About Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR)

NIBR is the main research arm of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. A global organization, NIBR has 7 major research sites, and employs more than 6,000 scientists, physicians and business professionals from around the world.

NIBR’s main areas of therapeutic focus:

Autoimmunity, Transplantation & Inflammation Disease
Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases
Infectious Diseases
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Respiratory Diseases

NIBR Sites:

Internship opportunities are available at the following NIBR sites. 

Cambridge, MA

NIBR Cambridge is located in the midst of multiple renowned academic research institutions and innovative biotech companies. The NIBR headquarters is home to research in the areas of new target discovery, oncology, neuroscience, ophthalmology, and cardiovascular and metabolic related diseases.

Emeryville, CA

Located in the San Francisco Bay area, Emeryville is one home to NIBR’s Infectious Disease research group working in bacteriology and virology.


For questions about the program and application process, please contact:

Dr. Katherine Alfieri
Stanford ChEM-H Program Manager