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ASPIRE Internships Offer a Window to the World Beyond the Lab

Posted by on Friday, July 16, 2021 in Announcements .

This article was originally published in Results & Discussion, Issue 3, Spring 2016. 

By Kathleen L. Gould, PhD, Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences

This fall, the BRET Office of Career Development launched its internship initiative as part of the ASPIRE Program. ASPIRE is funded by a BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) Award from the NIH Common Fund and is aimed at empowering and preparing biomedical sciences Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars to make well-informed career decisions.

To this end, the ASPIRE program is facilitating opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to gain hands-on experience with a project in a professional work environment. ASPIRE Internships are off to a strong start with 18 positions being offered since August in a variety of career areas including policy/advocacy, teaching, biotechnology, healthcare data analytics, and craft beer brewing. Moreover, we have had significant interest from trainees, with 43 applicants for these positions.

So far, internships have all been part-time (8-10 hours per week) for 10-12 weeks at sites in the Nashville area, but we intend to expand beyond Music City. As the program grows, we plan to increase the variety of internships offered, including full-time positions for 2-3 months, and in areas not currently represented such as non-profit management, venture capital, medical communications, and technology commercialization.

We are also making every effort to support students and postdocs who may wish to pursue established internship opportunities outside of the ASPIRE Program by providing a BRET-curated list of available positions, offering ASPIRE-funded travel awards, and facilitating the application process.

If you would like to support us in our efforts, we would be delighted to hear from you. We seek partners from a range of professions to host a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in the workplace for an internship or a one- to three-day job shadowing externship.

Science Policy Interest Culminates in an ASPIRE Internship

By Ashley E. Brady, Ph.D. ASPIRE Program Manager, BRET Office of Career Development

Rubin Baskir is nearing the completion of his Ph.D. training in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. However, Bashkir isn’t only interested in contributing in the academic sphere—he also wants to use his scientific training to effect change on a broader level. To accomplish this goal, he has seized opportunities to learn how he can leverage his scientific training to influence policy decisions.

AdvaMed Federal Policy Fly-In on March 1. Left to right: biomedical researchers Kirby Wallace and Laura Eckard (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and UT Health Science Center; Abby Trotter, executive director, Life Science Tennessee; Congressman Marsha Blackburn; Steve Bares, president, Memphis Bioworks; Sam Lynch, president, Lynch Biologics, Rubin Baskir, Vanderbilt University, Alex Cate, Life Science Tennessee

To gain hands-on experience in the policy sector, Baskir recently participated in an ASPIRE Internship with Life Science TN, the state’s industry advocacy organization. As an intern, he performed life science and health care policy research, policy copywriting, and industry and elected official outreach.

During the course of this internship, Baskir joined the Life Science TN team at their legislative “Day on the Hill” in Nashville. There, they met with legislative leadership to discuss opportunities for industry growth in Tennessee. Baskir also attended the federal “Day in D.C.”, where he met federal industry partners and discussed policy issues in detail with members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation and senior policy staff.

When asked about his experience, Baskir notes, “This opportunity has provided a solid foundation for my long term goals of crafting policies that will improve graduate education, maintain sustainable funding for basic research, and reduce the gaps between basic research and technologies that improve a patient’s quality of life.”

Learn More: 

Interested in participating in an ASPIRE Internship? Visit

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