Program Logistics

All students in this program are full-time graduate students in Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) at the University of Pennsylvania. As such, the Immunology Graduate Group (IGG) provides the basic formal educational structure for all students within its program.   All students, regardless of the site at which they conduct their thesis research, are required to meet all degree and program requirements as determined by BGS and the IGG.


Students attend an orientation of the NIH campus and a two-day Immunology Interest Group (IIG) workshop in Leesburg, VA, in the fall during their first year. The costs for these activities are supported by the Center for Cancer Research (CCR)/National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Immunology Interest Group Workshop will be held remotely on September 9-10.

Registration is available here. Although there is no physical space limitation this year, registrations will be limited, so early registration is encouraged.  There will be a full and exciting agenda of cutting-edge immunology talks and poster sessions presented by NIH trainees and investigators. Poster presenters may have the opportunity to give 3-5 minute “flash” talks.

Stipend/Tuition/Health Insurance

NIH Summer Rotation

Once admitted to the IGG program, students have the opportunity to rotate at the NIH prior to starting at Penn and/or during summer after the first year. If an NIH lab is chosen as the thesis lab, the student will then transition to the NIH Intramural Research Program at/around June 1st of the second year until their thesis work is completed

Years 1 – 2

During the first and second years, a student’s stipend, health insurance, tuition, and fees are paid by BGS.

Year 3 – 5

Years 3 – 5 are funded by the investigator in the Institute at NIH where the student transitions.

Tuition is capped at $16,000 per student per year, as per the National Research Service Award (NRSA) guidelines, for years 3 – 5, and at $5,000 per year for any additional years. [Note: In some Institutes, tuition is paid centrally by the Scientific Director (SD)].

Stipend levels are set by the NIH or NCI and are based on the student’s level of experience and academic achievement. The typical range is $33,100 - $47,000 annually (paid on a monthly basis on the 1st business day of the month). The Investigator will have to use an allocated non-FTE slot for a graduate student working in the lab.

Health Insurance is provided by the NIH through the Foundation for the Advanced Education in the Science (FAES).

Program Requirements

Students participating in the NIH/Penn Partnership must complete the required coursework and research requirements as outlined by the Immunology Graduate Group. Students completing thesis work at the NIH are required to complete the same requirements as all IGG students during thesis years. This includes participating in IMUN 607 Grant Writing (spring semester of the second year), completing regular RCR and SRR trainings, and submitting an annual IDP. In addition, all thesis students are required to hold a regular thesis committee meeting: every six months for combined-degree students and once per year for PhD students. Lastly, all students are required to attend the annual IGG retreat.

As an NIH trainee, students are required to present regularly at group lab meetings or branch seminars as well as attend journal clubs and the weekly NIH immunology seminar series.