Medical Student Summer Research Internship Program

Program Details

Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) offers a summer research internship program designed to provide medical students (typically between their first and second year) the opportunity to work closely with a research mentor on a project exploring the cellular, molecular and genetic basis of human disease. The goal of this program is to introduce medical students to the concepts and practice of design, implementation, interpretation and presentation of basic biomedical research.

We expect to support two internships, depending on the needs of the Institute’s faculty. This program is competitive, based on grades, recommendations, previous experience and a personal meeting, telephone interview or interview via Skype. Students are expected to work full-time for the duration of the internship, so participation in this program is not compatible with working at another job.

Program timeline

The internship will be a six to nine-week research experience based on the time availability of the applicant.


Each applicant’s internship will be based on their research interests selected on the application form. Each experience will be different based on the research question, mentor and status of the project. Work environments include any of the basic science laboratories and core services at VARI.


Medical students must currently be enrolled and in good standing their current year of medical school.

International students are eligible to apply if they meet the requirements for the program and are legally permitted to work and earn income in the United States. The Institute will not sponsor visas for summer-only employment.

Interview selection process

Completed applications are accepted starting mid-November and will be reviewed by the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee and VARI faculty after February 3, 2020. Applicants selected for interviews will be contacted by mid-February and employment offers will be extended by the end of February. Any inquiries regarding your application should be made via e-mail to undergrad@vai.org.

Program details

Physical Demands
Assignments may involve the use of potentially hazardous chemicals, hazardous or radioactive materials, or may be in areas where such materials are used. Adherence to safety policies and procedures along with proper storage and disposal methods are required.

The Medical Student Summer Research Internship Program will be limited to a 40 hour work week with pay at $15/hr.   

Summer Holidays
Student Interns are not eligible for holiday pay on the following days VAI officially closes for business:

  • Memorial Day – Monday, May 25, 2020
  • Independence Day – Friday, July 3, 2020 (observed)

Local area colleges/universities may have student housing available. Students are responsible for their own travel, housing, room and board. 

Please note that student housing at local area colleges/universities is typically available starting the second week in May and move-out dates are typically between the first and second week in August.

Students will have the option to purchase a $15 parking pass for the ramp on Michigan St., directly across from the Institute.

Before you apply

  • Please review Van Andel Research Institute’s (VARI) website to determine your top research areas of interest (epigenetics, neurodegenerative science or cancer and cell biology).
  • Please review VARI research laboratories to identify your top five labs of interest.
  • Please review VARI core services to identify your top three core services of interest.
  • Prepare a cover letter (PDF format) to include why you would like to participate in this summer internship and your career goals.
  • Prepare a resume (PDF format) that includes your education, research and volunteer experience, and publications (if any).
  • Be prepared to upload unofficial transcripts (PDF format) to your online application. Applicants will be responsible for uploading all of their college or university transcripts to their online application. Any transcripts received via email or from your institutions transcript delivery service will not be accepted.
  • Combine your cover letter, resume and transcripts as a single PDF file before submitting your online application.
  • Request a letter of good standing from your medical school (Academic Dean’s Office, Academic Student Affairs or Academic Affairs) to be mailed to the address below.
  • Two (2) current letters of recommendation: Ask professors, research mentors and/or supervisors to submit letters of recommendation, on institute letterhead, in PDF electronic format to undergrad@vai.org or mail to:

Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee (98001/VAIGS)
Medical Student Summer Research Internship Program
Van Andel Institute Graduate / Van Andel Research Institute
333 Bostwick Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2518

Online application

The 2020 application process begins in December.