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Wistar Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program

The Molecular Basis of Cellular Phenotypes (MBCP) Program is organized around one of the National Science Foundation’s 10 Big Ideas, “Understanding the Rules of Life.”

The program consists of a 2-week lab orientation followed by an 8-week research internship. During orientation, students participate in hands-on training in molecular and cellular biology techniques and conduct research on genetic variation in the human TP53 gene. Based on scientific interests, students select a research project, and a mentor is assigned to them to support their research training. Professional and personal growth is supported by social activities and weekly group workshops with topics covering science communication, responsible conduct of research training, and how to select and apply to graduate programs.

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Migration and Invasion
  • Genome Instability
  • Glycan-mediated Immune Responses
  • Homeostasis and Autophagy
  • Host Cell Viral Latency
  • Innate Immune Response
  • Proliferation and Stress Response
  • Stem Cell Differentiation
  • Senescence and Survival

Participants have flexibility in choosing research projects of particular interest to them.


Participants will receive a stipend of $650/week and a weekly meal allowance of $85/week for the 10-week program. Each participant will also be eligible for a travel stipend. Housing is provided.


Students from any 2-year or 4-year college or university may apply provided they have achieved a grade of B or higher in General Biology (cell and molecular) as well as Chemistry courses for majors. Additional biology courses in genetics, immunology, or related areas will be considered but are not required.

Qualified Underrepresented Students Encouraged to Apply

Priority will be given to qualified students who have not already participated in summer research programs and are enrolled at institutions without extensive undergraduate research opportunities. Interested students from underserved and/or underrepresented backgrounds, including ethnic or racial minorities, those with disabilities, first to attend college in their family, or from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Participants in the REU program must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Students who will have completed the bachelor’s degree by August 2024 are not eligible for REU programs.


Participants in the MBCP Program will engage in full-time laboratory research throughout the 10-week program. Research experiences will be complemented by two-hour weekly meetings during which trainees will practice communicating their research activities and engage in professional development activities. Sample topics include: Scientific Career Paths; What is Biotech?; and Your Next Degree.

Participants and mentors will meet weekly throughout the internship to discuss their respective research experiences and career aspirations. Mentors will assist students in developing an individual plan to help participants define their short- and long-term goals. Social events planned throughout the program will build camaraderie among students.

The MBCP Program culminates with a symposium open to all of The Wistar Institute’s scientists where each participant will present a poster explaining their research experience. This will be followed by a certificate presentation, a student speaker, and a closing reception.


Selection criteria include transcripts, two letters of recommendation from college/university professors, a personal statement including a description of education and career goals, and a virtual interview. All materials will be submitted online and evaluated by a committee of MBCP leaders and Wistar principal investigators.

Applications will be accepted between January 1, 2024 and February 29, 2024. Acceptance decisions will be communicated to applicants in late-March with the MBCP Program running from June 3, 2024 to August 9, 2024. 


The Wistar Institute gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Wistar Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant.