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Research Internship Opportunity

The Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit (BPRU) at Johns Hopkins University is a world-leading site in the science of psychoactive drugs and behavior. The Unit has been in operation for over 45 years and has been at the forefront of major studies and developments related to drugs. Spanning the negative and positive effects of psychoactive drugs, whether illicit or legal drugs or medications, the BPRU takes a comprehensive approach to understand all aspects of drugs and their use, from substance use disorders and their treatment, to the development of novel psychoactive therapeutics. Few, if any, other research sites in the world have conducted human trials with such a wide variety of psychoactive drugs.  

The BPRU Student Internship Program is designed to provide direct experience in behavioral pharmacology and human research studies to interested undergraduate and graduate students. Many students receive skills they use towards graduate program applications, summer internships, employment, and networking in the field.  

Update: As of 2022, we only accept applications from currently enrolled Johns Hopkins University students.  

BPRU is composed of teams of research coordinators, research psychologists, therapists, data specialists, and psychometricians who help conduct research under the direction of Principal Investigators. With the supervision of investigators, postdoctoral researchers, and research coordinators, student interns assist in data management, data collection, patient recruitment, and related administrative tasks. The BPRU conducts studies with individuals both healthy or medically compromised, in treatment, and/or seeking treatment involving an array of substances (opioids, sedative-hypnotics, stimulants, psychedelics, cannabis, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, etc.). The Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit (BPRU) at Johns Hopkins is a world leading site in the science of psychoactive drugs and behavior.  

In this Section

Major Research Themes of BPRU

  • Exploration of clinical, behavioral and pharmacological treatments for abused substances and various medical conditions. 
  • Investigation of aspects of substance use and medical conditions through experimental, theoretical, and literature review studies. 
  • Behavioral and neuropsychiatric assessment of drug abusers and healthy volunteers, including psychiatric comorbidity and cognitive and psychomotor functioning. 
  • At BPRU, we have three primary laboratories. Applicants will be asked to specify if they prefer a particular lab in the application survey but are not required to provide a preference.

    • Maryland Opioid Research (MOR)
      MOR is a collection of scientific researchers and clinicians who are experts in opioids and opioid use disorder dedicated to using science to understand and improve the care of persons with opioid exposure.
    • JHU Cannabis Science Lab (CSL)
      Research at the JHU CSL is focused on objective science that can inform public policy, regulation of cannabis products, patient-provider decisions regarding the medicinal use of cannabis, prevention and treatment of problematic cannabis use behavior, and other key unanswered questions related to cannabis/cannabinoids.
    • Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research (CPCR)
      At CPCR, researchers will focus on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health.
    • Other areas of research
      BPRU also has other ongoing research studying licit substances, such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  • BPRU interns are matched with research teams during the interview process in an attempt to align the interests, experience, and educational pursuits of the applicant with the availability and needs of the various ongoing studies. Interns can witness, assist, and learn the various steps of running a clinical trial that promote its success, including ground-up design, data collection, direct participant interaction, and data management. Many of our studies are active over many years, so day-to-day duties are largely determined by the stage a study is in at the time of joining. Intern responsibilities may include but are not limited to recruiting and scheduling participants; collecting, transcribing, and analyzing data; preparing study materials; and conducting study sessions.  

  • Current Johns Hopkins students who have an interest in clinical research (particularly in substance use disorders, medicine, psychology, public health, or related fields), and who have the following are strongly encouraged to apply:

    • Self-motivated and internally driven
    • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
    • Competence and professionalism in interacting with study staff and participants
    • Excellent teamwork and problem-solving skills
    • Demonstrated interest and passion in academic research involving behavioral pharmacology and/or related fields
  • The BPRU student internship program is designed around the academic schedule of its applicants and accepts applications on a rolling basis. Successful applicants should be able to dedicate a minimum of 10-15 hours a week to being on-site at the BPRU during business hours. Hybrid work opportunities are available based on the needs of various studies.

  • Please contact your department and the registrar's office for specific enrollment deadlines.

  • The Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit currently has both paid and unpaid positions available. Paid positions are available on a study-need basis and are typically reserved for interns with experience at BPRU and generally require a larger time commitment weekly. 

  • Depending on study needs, work can be completed in a hybrid manner, so long as the student fulfills the minimum 10 hours a week.


Student Experiences 

  • "Interning at the CPCR was the best decision I made as an undergraduate hoping to pursue research. I was quickly given hands-on clinical experience and have found an amazing group of mentors along the way. The CPCR internship program truly prepared me for a future in academia!" 

  • "While interning, I gradually became aligned with the work I aimed to experience when starting at the center. My supervisors listened and responded when I communicated the role I hoped to play in my studies. I consistently contribute my individual skill set to this research while being pushed to grow in many aspects. My hope for future interns is that they openly express the ways they want to contribute and that they find the work that feels meaningful to them." 

  • "The BPRU is a special place in the research community that truly fosters the growth and development of all its members.  My time here at the BPRU, both as an intern and now as research assistant, has been quite formative and has helped me to solidify my trajectory and aspirations in life, which I am forever grateful for!" 


Application to the BPRU Student Internship Program 

If you are interested in our Student Internship Program, please check the active acquisition on SMILE. 

Prospective applicants are highly encouraged to review this website, which is specifically designed to answer common questions. If there are specific questions that are not addressed, please contact us via email. In the spirit of equity, please hold off emailing Principal Investigators before hearing back from BPRU SIP. 

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