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Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship

Note: The application period for the 2017 Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship has closed. We will begin accepting applications for the 2018 fellowship in January 2018.

Former and current NHGRI/ASHG Fellows

Sponsored by:
The American Society of Human Genetics
The National Human Genome Research Institute
The National Institutes of Health


The extent to which the discoveries from genetics and genomics research are translated into the improved health of the American people is greatly influenced by policy decisions guiding research and the integration of genetics and genomics tools in the clinical setting. The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) co-sponsor the Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship to give genetics professionals an opportunity to contribute to the policy-making process. The fellowship is designed as a bridge for genetics professionals wishing to transition to a policy career. This unique fellowship provides three separate types of experiences: time spent in the National Institutes of Health within the Executive Branch; a staff position on Capitol Hill serving elected officials in the Legislative Branch; and experience working with ASHG in the non-profit science advocacy sector. This variety of assignments provides experience for fellows in multiple areas of policy-making and helps build a professional network that advances their careers in policy.

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Program Overview

Purpose: This is a fellowship program designed for genetics professionals with an advanced degree who are early in their careers and interested in the development and implementation of genetics-related health and research policies at a national level. The fellow will have the opportunity to participate in policy analysis at NHGRI and ASHG, and to work directly within the U.S. Congress.

Duration of Fellowship: 16 months

Start Date: August to early September (negotiable)

Compensation Package: annual $72k stipend plus benefits

Designated Mentor(s):

  • Cristina Kapustij, M.S.
    Chief, Policy and Program Analysis Branch, NHGRI
  • Derek Scholes, Ph.D.
    Director of Science Policy, ASHG

Past and Present Fellows

Year Fellow Current Employer Title Office Rotation in Congress
2017 Nikki Meadows ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellow NHGRI
2016 Christa Wagner ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellow Sen. Sherrod Brown
2015 Caroline Young NIH Office of Science Policy Health Science Policy Analyst Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
2014 Katherine Blizinsky NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) Policy Analyst Sen. Patty Murray
2013 Katherine Donigan U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Staff Fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren
2012 Laura Koontz U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Personalized Medicine Staff Rep. Louise Slaughter
2011 Cristina Kapustij NIH - National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Chief, Policy and Program Analysis Branch Rep. John Dingell
2010 Kyle Brown Office of the Governor of Colorado Health Policy Advisor Senate HELP Committee
2009 Selvi Sriranganathan Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States Certified Genetic Counselor Rep. Eddie Bernice-Johnson
2008 Sara Selgrade NIH - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Section Chief for Legislative Activities Senate HELP Committee
2007 Pam Bradley U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Staff Fellow Senate HELP Committee
2006 Ed Ramos National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering  Program Director Senator Obama
2005 Derek Scholes ASHG Director of Science Policy Senate HELP Committee
2004 Mike Stebbins Arnold Foundation Vice President of Science and Technology Senate Minority Leaders Office
2003 Jennifer Leib HealthFutures, LLC Partner Senate HELP Committee
2002 Daryl Pritchard Personalized Medicine Coalition Vice President, Science Policy Rep Louise Slaughter
Past ASHG/NHGRI Fellow Testimonials

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Rotations (schedule approximate)

  • Sept. - Dec. 2017
    Policy and Program Analysis Branch, Office of the Director, at NHGRI: Participate in a variety of ongoing ethical, legal and policy activities as well as other processes, such as development of the federal budget.
  • Jan. - Sept. 2018
    Congressional office and/or Committee involved in genetics-related public policy issues: Work within the personal office of a Member of Congress or a Congressional committee with jurisdiction over biomedical research, health or science. Fellows determine their positions based on availability and their own interests, and participate fully in staff functions during this time.
  • Oct. - Dec. 2018
    Advocacy at ASHG: Work within the ASHG science policy office advocating for ASHG's policy platform and examining policy issues related to genetics research, the use of genetics in the clinic, and the non-clinical applications of genetics in society.

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The activities of the fellow will vary with each rotation. They will include research and analysis on a wide range of policy issues impacting biomedical research and its clinical application, and summarizing those analyses for different audiences. Writing tasks may include crafting new policy position statements, preparing testimony, summarizing legislation and drafting speeches. The fellow will participate in a variety of forums and will be expected to represent the involved organizations effectively in individual meetings and larger settings.

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Qualifications and Skills

Candidates are expected to have an advanced degree in human genetics or related field. Exceptional applicants with other advanced degrees and clearly demonstrated experience-based knowledge in science policy could be considered. Ideally, candidates will have completed graduate training, but be early in the career development path. In addition to possessing a scientific knowledge base, the candidate must have a well-articulated interest in policy. Demonstrated skills in oral and written communications are essential. United States citizenship is not required, but candidates must be eligible to work in in the U.S. (i.e., the fellowship organizations will not sponsor visas).

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Selection Process and Application

A committee of representatives from ASHG and NHGRI will review application materials, interview finalists, and recommend up to three candidates to the organizational leaders for the final selection decision. Candidates are asked in the application materials to explain their motivation, areas of interest, and future plans.

  • Applications will be open in January 2018

Other Policy Fellowships and Internships

NHGRI regularly receives inquiries from geneticists and genomicists interested in pursuing science and health policy, but who are not eligible for the NHGRI/ASHG Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship. To assist such individuals, NHGRI has compiled a list of other policy-related fellowships and internships that may be of interest. See: Other Policy Fellowships and Internships

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Questions for the ASHG/NHGRI Fellowship can be directed to:

Cristina Kapustij, M.S.
Chief, Policy and Program Analysis Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute

Derek Scholes, Ph.D.
Director of Science Policy
American Society of Human Genetics


Last Updated: November 1, 2017

See Also:

Genetics and Education Fellowship