Can freshmen apply to this program?
While we typically admit rising junior and senior students in the latter part of their undergraduate work, we will make an exception for a rising sophomore for whom we feel this would be a transformative experience.
Can international students apply to this program?
Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents - no exceptions.
The program begins before the end of my school year. Can I still attend the Institute?
Yes, if your school year ends after the program start date you are still eligible to apply. Please inform the program coordinator of this if you are accepted.
School starts before the summer course ends. Can I attend only part of the Institute?
The student presentations given during the final week of the summer are an important and integral part of the Institute. All participants are expected to be in residence for the full duration of the program (June 10 – August 11, 2018). However, special dispensation can be given in some extenuating circumstances.
I am planning on attending medical school; should I apply to this program?
The aim of this program is to provide insights into biomedical informatics for students who aspire to engage actively in a research career, typically as a PhD, a MD-PhD or a MD with an active research program. Therefore, our ideal student will demonstrate an existing quantitative perspective and have relevant coursework (e.g., computer science, informatics, biomedical engineering, genetics) on his/her transcript, research experience in the field, and/or a convincing desire to experience this interdiscipline first hand in a demanding, cutting edge research environment as a prelude to structuring the balance of their undergraduate coursework.
What is biomedical informatics?
Today's biomedical informatics offers a set of computational approaches to enable biomedical research in novel ways. This discipline encompasses both the design of studies to understand linkages between and among biological variables and patients as well as the analysis, management, and storage of the massive amount of biological data generated by cutting edge, high throughput technologies, including CHIPSeq, RNAseq, epigenomic analyses, the exposome, social media and electronic health records.
Biomedical informatics involves the analysis of biological information using computational and statistical techniques, and the science of developing and using computer databases and algorithms to accelerate and enhance biological research.
Biomedical informatics is used in analyzing genomes and proteomes (protein sequences), three-dimensional modeling of biomolecules and biologic systems, patient data, developing predictive modelling, pharmaco-vigilance, and point-of-care applications. Training in biomedical informatics requires knowledge of mathematics, molecular biology and computer science, including database design and analytical approaches.
Please describe a typical week in the program.
Two mornings a week will be devoted to a biomedical informatics course, including a series of medical case studies and conversations with notable investigators. All presenters will share with students their personal histories regarding how they chose their graduate program and what those choices mean today for work:life balance and personal satisfaction. Interested students will attend a communications tutorial that focuses on technical writing and oral presentation skills. Afternoons following class and on days when no class is scheduled, students are expected to be in their assigned research lab.
How will topics in the Medical Case Studies be chosen?
The medical case studies are chosen to showcase those diseases (e.g., diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, deafness, asthma, depression and bipolar disorder, hypertension) where biomedical informatics has enabled a better understanding of the disease process, revealed distinct subpopulations within that disease classification, and/or contributed to improvements in diagnosis and treatment of that disease. These lectures are typically given by experts who also serve as research project mentors to our students.
Where will the research projects take place?
Research activities will take place at laboratories on the campuses of Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated hospitals. A majority of students will be placed in the Department of Biomedical Informatics.
How will I be matched with a specific research project?
The director of the program will evaluate both your educational objectives and your academic background to match you with an appropriate lab. There is no predetermined faculty pool from which to select as each match is a custom selection.
Will I have to submit a project report?
In the final week of the program students will submit a 10-page written report and give a 15-minute oral presentation on their work to their fellow students and to the mentors.
What are some examples of past student projects?
Examples are listed on our Student Projects page.
Is this the same program offered by Harvard–MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST)?
The program is the same but is now based entirely in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School. The Summer Institute was launched in 2005 and run in partnership with HST for its first 13 years. Previous titles of the program include the Summer Scholars in Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics (Summer BIG) and the Harvard–MIT/HST Summer Bioinformatics Program. DBMI gratefully acknowledges the role its partners at HST have played in sustaining this successful program.
What are the application requirements?
Please read through the application requirements on our Admissions page.
When will I receive the application decision?
Acceptance is on a rolling basis, but all applicants will receive decisions via email by the end of March. If an applicant is offered a position, the email will include a response deadline.