For nearly 50 years, the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit (BPRU) has been internationally recognized as a center for excellence in the study of human behavioral pharmacology. For over 15 years the research internship program at BPRU has provided valuable research experience to over 150 students interested in clinical research. The internship program at BPRU is designed to provide direct experience in behavioral pharmacology and human research studies to interested students and recent graduates. 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.
What is the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit?
The Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit is a wide-ranging 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 carry out and coordinate clinical trials under the direction of Principal Investigators. Under 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 under controlled settings.
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.
What would I do?BPRU interns are matched with research teams during the interview process. This matching attempts to align the interests, experience, and educational pursuits of the applicant with the availability and needs of the various on-going studies. Interns can gain in-depth knowledge and expertise in clinical research conducted at a world-renowned research institution. Interns can witness, assist, and learn the various steps of a study that help to make it successful; from ground-up design, to data collection, direct participant interaction, and data management. The day-to-day duties are largely determined by what stage a study is in when you join the research team. Many of our studies are active and on-going over a period of years. 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.
Am I eligible to apply?
Undergraduates or recent graduates who have an interest in clinical research and research methods (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
When is it?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.
Is it a paid position?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. Paid positions also generally require a larger weekly time commitment.
How do I apply?
If you think you may be interested in the BPRU internship program, email the contact below and submit a complete application, which includes:
- Resume/CV, include cumulative GPA (attach in email)
- Unofficial transcript (attach in email)
- 300-word statement of interest for the research internship program (attach in email)
- Fill out: Preliminary Survey for Internship Candidates
- Accepted file formats for the application are: .DOC, .DOCX, .Pages, or .PDF files and note that 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.