BioLAB Program

The BioLAB Program offers one-year long (July to June/July) research traineeships to students enrolled in a Master or PhD degree programs in Poland in any area of biomedical sciences. Traineeships will be completed at one of the four host institutions in the U.S.: University of Virginia, University of Chicago, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

University of Virginia
University of Chicago
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
UT Southwestern Medical Center

The BioLAB Program (Visiting Research Graduate Traineeship Program) started in 2001 at the University of Virginia under the leadership of Professor Zygmunt Derewenda. In 2006, the University of Chicago became the second host institution in the United States, followed by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in 2013 and University of Texas, Southwestern in 2014. 

Approximately 20% of BioLAB program’s graduates continued their studies at the Ph.D. level in the U.S., and another 20% were accepted to the top universities and research institutions in Europe, including Oxford, Cambridge, Max Planck and ETH. Overall, more than 90% of BioLAB participants have continued their careers at a Ph.D. level. 

The program participants’ contributions include co-authoring numerous papers based on the research they conducted in the U.S. 

The Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission has administered the BioLAB Program since 2013. Grants are fully funded by host institutions.

Call for applications

The application process for 2023-24 academic year is open. Call for applications for the 2023-24 academic year is opened by February 1, 2023, 11:59 PM Polish local time. 

Duration and planned number of placements

Internships are offered for 11-12 months. In justified cases, there is a possibility to extend the internship for one additional year.

Usually there are around 45 placements. 

Who are we looking for

We are looking for students

  • Specializing in life sciences, biophysics and medical fields of study,
  • Passionate about research and experienced in lab work and ready for intensive, time-consuming laboratory work,
  • Who have a high grade point average (around 4.0),
  • Who are ready for a one-year stay in the US.

The Commission welcomes applications from all candidates regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status and physical or mental ability.

Participation in the program includes

One-year long traineeship in a research laboratory. The BIoLAB Program is a chance to be a part of important research projects under the supervision of experienced mentors. In some cases, research findings can be used and published in a candidate’s Master/PhD thesis.

Salary is paid every 2 or 3 weeks. Students will have a status of a visiting graduate student or a research trainee.

The salary amount depends on the host institution’s location and it varies from 28 000 USD to 35 000 USD per year (students are responsible for any U.S. federal and/or state taxes).

Help in getting F1 or J1 visa (the cost of issuing a visa is covered by the grantee).

For the duration of the traineeship, students are covered by a comprehensive medical insurance plan offered by the host institution.

The Commission helps students prepare for their stay in the U.S. while the host institutions ensure they receive ongoing support during the course of the program.

By February 1, 2023
Call for applications for the academic year 2023-24. We accept applications submitted by 11:59 PM Polish local time on the last day of recruitment.

Beginning of March 2023
Selected candidates receive an invitation for interviews. We plan to invite a maximum of 60 candidates. Invited candidates will receive detailed information on the research projects offered in each institution, and will have to submit an additional document indicating which project corresponds to their interests. This selection is not final and can be changed during the interview. If there are a large number of highly rated candidates, an alternate list will be prepared.

March 5, 2023
Deadline for sending a transcript from the winter session for candidates invited for interviews.

March 10-20, 2023
Interviews.

Interviews conducted by BioLAB coordinators – Selection Committee from the host institutions (Prof. Zygmunt Derewenda – University of Virginia, Prof. Anthony Kossiakoff – University of Chicago, Prof. Jose Rizo-Rey – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Umesh Deshmukh – Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation ).

If circumstances permit, the interviews will be held in Warsaw and one selected city in Poland indicated by the Selection Committee. If the Selection Committee cannot travel to Poland, the interviews will be held online via Zoom, according to the plan presented by the Program Officer.

There are approximately 45 postions (this number may change). If not all positions are filled after the first round of interviews, it is possible to schedule additional interviews for candidates on an alternate list. Additional interviews will take place on March 25-30, 2023.

mid-April 2023
Preliminary results, sending offers to nominated candidates by host institutions.

End of April
Closing the list of candidates nominated and assigned to individual laboratories in host institutions.

First half of May
Orientation meeting in Warsaw or in online format.

beginning of July
Departure to the U.S. 

Formal requirements

Individuals eligible to apply for the BioLAB Program have to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet formal requirements of a F-1 or J-1 visa,
  • Be enrolled in a graduate program where their major field of study is life sciences, biophysics or medical fields of study (chemistry, biology, biotechnology, medicine, physics, pharmacy, biochemistry etc.),
  • Demonstrate knowledge of English proficiency at the B2 level or higher,
  • Hold a high grade point average from the course of their studies (GPA of 4.0 or above is recommended),
  • Hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree and at the time of an interview (March) will be enrolled in a Master’s or PhD program at a Polish university or research institution and maintain an active student status during the duration of the BioLAB program.

Formal requirements

Individuals eligible to apply for the BioLAB Program have to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet formal requirements of a F-1 or J-1 visa,
  • Be enrolled in a graduate program where their major field of study is life sciences, biophysics and/or medical fields of study (chemistry, biology, biotechnology, medicine, physics, pharmacy, biochemistry etc.),
  • Demonstrate knowledge of English proficiency at the B2 level or higher,
  • Hold a high grade point average from the course of their studies (GPA of 4.0 or above is recommended),
  • Hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree (licencjat/inżynier if the studies were completed in Poland) and at the time of an interview (March) will be enrolled in a Master’s or PhD program at a Polish university or research institution and maintain an active student status during the duration of the BioLAB Program.

Apply

Before you start

Prepare required documents

All documents should be prepared in English and submitted to the application form. 

Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) with a list of academic as well as non-academic accomplishments. Please use the template [.docx].

Bachelor’s diploma, Master’s diploma, with diploma supplement and transcript (if applicable) and PhD’s transcript (if applicable).

Personal statement, i.e. a letter indicating candidate’s research interests, with justification, and future career plans. Please use the template [.docx].

Consent for participation in the program signed by the Dean of the Faculty from the candidate’s home university as well as thesis supervisor. Please use the template [.docx].

Applications will only be accepted from students who are FULLY VACCIINATED with AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna or J&J vaccines. Evidence of vaccination must be submitted with other documentation for the application to be considered. Proof of taking a booster dose is not required at this point, but the situation may change. We encourage those who have received a booster dose to send the appropriate certificate (uploading it to the system along with the COVID certificate), and candidates who have not yet received a booster dose to consider vaccination.

Prepare additional documents

You can upload max. 5 additional documents (i.e. certificate of proficiency in English, confirmation of laboratory skills, publications). All attachments should be formatted in one PDF. file. A file should be named by your last name followed by your first name and Supplement i.e.: Kowalski Jan Supplement.pdf

Obtain letters of recommendation

Ask two referees with PhD degrees or higher to prepare confidential recommendation letters for you in a PDF. file. If you participated in foreign internship(s), a letter from an internship mentor is welcome. Referee must use form below to submit the letter. Do not attach recommendation letters by yourself! You must not have access to the letters.

Submit application form

Fill out the application form. You do not have to fill out the application form in one go. You can open an account, save your answers and go back to filling out the application form later. Recommendation letters must be submitted by the referees. You will not be allowed to submit any missing documents after the deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The program provides you a year of advanced research experience, working on an important and challenging project in one of the top universities/institutions in the United States. Often, the research you complete is published in high impact journals. In addition to your academic training, this extra year of intense research experience makes you highly competitive for the best PhD programs in the world. Our alumni have been accepted by among others University of Cambridge, Oxford University, University of Chicago, University of Virginia, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, University of Oklahoma, Rockefeller University, Johns Hopkins University, ETH and University of Zurich.

The stipends differ slightly depending on the cost of living: ranging from $28,000-$35,000 per year. This stipend is more than sufficient to fully cover your costs of living, and have spare cash on hand.

Yes, all host institutions offer comprehensive health insurance. You will be informed about the details after receving a nomination.

Grantees are responsible for travel arragments and costs. Only the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation reimburses travel costs.

Once you accept an offer, the host institution will provide you with the visa documentation. Depending on the institution it will be (I-20 form) F-1 or (DS2019 form) J-1. The process requires a visit in the US Embassy in Warsaw or US Consulate in Cracow and an interview with the Consul. You will receive all needed information from program coordinator. You are responsible to pay the cost of processing the visa application.

The host institutions do not provide housing and grantees are responsible for finding their own accommodation. However, each host institution has a significant infrastructure to assist incoming grantees with the selection of appropriate accommodation, typically shared apartments. You should expect no difficulties in finding good housing, if you seek assistance. Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation gives the option of moving into apartments leased exclusively for the BioLAB grantees.

Your wife or husband can receive an F-2 or J2 visa to accompany you during your stay in the US. It is possible for the spouse to obtain a work permit, although this may not be easy – it takes a lot of time. However, bear in mind that your primary commitment is your work, and the presence of your spouse should not affect it. You will also be responsible for making independent housing arrangements that would accommodate you and your spouse.

This program represents a unique research opportunity for you as a grantee. You will be treated like a graduate student with the same expectations of productivity. While there is no set time requirement for your lab work, you are expected to work diligently to achieve your goals. As with all graduate students, there will be times when you need to work in the evenings and some days on the weekend. This will ultimately benefit your training and education and you should be prepared for this. If you have any reluctance for this type of commitment, you should not apply to the program.

There are no set days of vacation, but there are national holidays that open up windows for travel, etc. If you organize your time wisely and put in extra work to compensate, it is generally possible to negotiate short breaks that will allow you to travel to see the country and meet up with friends at the other sites.

Unfortunately not. The key issue is the fit for a project. For instance, if you are a ‘dry’ bioinformatician, and there are no projects in this field – you are not likely to be offered a place in the program. Also, if there are several outstanding candidates for specific projects, the mentor will select one, and there may not be a suitable alternative for others. This is why an interview is so important to establish how flexible you are.

No. However, your condition should not be such that it will affect your ability to work in the laboratory. Each institution has resources that can help, but there are no provisions for long-term medical leave. These scenarios are rare and we will try to be flexible, but if your health is in jeopardy you may have to return to Poland to deal with it properly. Although you may not wish to disclose your health condition during the interview, the Selection Committee would be prepared to advise you, should you choose to discuss it. You will have to provide details prior to enrollment to our Student Health Centers, which is confidential.

There are a number of projects that are highly over subscribed each year. You should therefore be prepared to be flexible since there will be good alternatives that should be just as suitable for you. There might be research areas that you are broadly interested in or you might be most interested in learning new techniques. This is what the interview process is for and is an opportunity to explore your options. If you have strong preferences against certain areas, we are sensitive to that, but that will limit your possibilities. 

Contact Program Officer

Patrycja Donaburska

Patrycja Donaburska

Senior Program Officer, EducationUSA Adviser

Alumni testimonials

For testimonials go to Polish version of this page.

Zastanawiasz się nad złożeniem wniosku do Programu BioLAB? Zapraszamy do udziału w spotkaniach informacyjnych oraz webinarach podczas których dowiesz się więcej o Programie i otrzymasz wskazówki jak przygotować dobry wniosek.

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