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Research Internship Opportunity

The BPRU Student Internship Program is designed to provide direct experience in behavioral pharmacology and human research studies to interested students and recent graduates. For over 15 years the research internship program at BPRU has provided valuable research experience to over 150 students interested in clinical research. Many of our students go on to graduate level academic programs and about one-half of our full-time research staff are former students. Students can expect to receive hands-on training in human subjects research, including training in Good Clinical Practices (GCPs), research ethics, clinical trial design, data collection, and behavioral assessment. Qualified students are encouraged to apply to internships for the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

In this Section

What is the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit?

The Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit is a clinical research program that examines and studies substances of abuse. Located at the Bayview Medical Campus in East Baltimore, BPRU is part of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  BPRU is composed of teams of research staff who coordinate clinical trials under the direction of Principal Investigators. With the supervision of investigators, postdoctoral researchers, and research coordinators, student interns assist in data handling, data collection, and subject recruitment. These teams conduct studies with both healthy and treatment-seeking research participants involving a vast array of substances (opioids, sedative-hypnotics, stimulants, hallucinogens, marijuana, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, etc.).  BPRU is one of only a handful of laboratories in the country that directly studies such a variety of drugs, as well as administers them to human research participants within a controlled environment.

Major themes of BPRU research include:

  • Clinical pharmacology of abused substances and of medications for treating substance abuse and dependence;
  • Behavioral and pharmacological treatments for substance use and abuse, and integration of these two approaches;
  • Abuse liability assessment of psychoactive substances;
  • Behavioral and neuropsychiatric assessment of drug abusers and healthy volunteers, including psychiatric comorbidity and cognitive and psychomotor functioning.
  • 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 on-going studies. Interns can witness, assist, and learn the various steps of running a clinical trial that promote its success; from ground-up design, to data collection, direct participant interaction, and data management. Many of our studies are active and ongoing over a period of years, so day-to-day duties are largely determined by the stage a study is in when you join the research team. 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. 

  • Undergraduates or recent graduates who have an interest in clinical research (particularly in medicine, psychology, or related fields), and who have the following are strongly encouraged to apply:
    • Demonstrated academic excellence
    • Basic computer and spreadsheet software skills
    • Strong communication skills
    • Confidence and professionalism in interacting with study staff and participants
    • Excellent teamwork and problem-solving skills

  • The BPRU internship program is designed around the academic schedule of its applicants. We regularly accept and employ interns during the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters. Successful applicants should be able to dedicate a minimum of 10-15 hours a week to being on site at BPRU during business hours. 

  • 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. 


Meet Our Program Alums

  • Gabby C. BPRU Internship Program Alum“…As an intern, I was immersed in the research team through data collection, subject recruitment, and direct assessment administration…I received excellent mentorship in an atmosphere that welcomed discussions about career goals and provided professional guidance...Overall, I built lasting professional relationships and developed a foundation of skills that transferred over into my graduate studies and has continued to be present in my professional career.”
  • ​“I was a student intern with the BRPU for 2 years while I attended Goucher College. I had the opportunity to work on several types of drug studies, assisting primarily with recruitment and data entry…The BPRU was always a welcoming community comprised of a supportive group of researchers. This opportunity gave me the chance to participate in large scale, government funded research that was otherwise unavailable at my small liberal arts school.”

  • Ian G.​"The BPRU is a special place in the research community that truly fosters the growth and development of all it's 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!"

How do I apply?

If you think you may be interested in the BPRU internship program, please submit a complete application by navigating to the link below. The link will take you to a preliminary survey. After you respond to all of the questions in the survey, you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  1. Resume/CV, include cumulative GPA
  2. Unofficial transcript
  3. 300-word statement of interest or Cover Letter for the research internship program

Start application process

Please note:

  • Accepted file formats for the application are: .DOC, .DOCX, or .PDF files.
  • We do not consider incomplete applications.
  • Please note that the process of obtaining clearance for students outside of the Johns Hopkins system may take up to six weeks. Therefore, it is important to apply well ahead of the semester in which you are interested in gaining experience in our lab.

Please direct any questions about the internship program to:

Jefferson Mattingly 
Lead, Student Internship Program
5510 Nathan Shock Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21224

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