We are no longer accepting applications for the 2019-2020 fellowship. The next application window will open in late February, 2020.

Applications for the 2019-2020 fellowship are now open. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 19, 2019.

Sponsored by:


2016 Genetics Public Policy FellowsThe 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.

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: late August to September 1st

Compensation Package: annual $76k stipend plus benefits

Designated Mentors:

  • Cristina Kapustij, MS
    Chief, Policy and Program Analysis Branch, NHGRI

  • Derek Scholes, PhD
    Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, ASHG

Cari Young, ScM, 2015-2016 Genetics & Public Policy Fellow, describes her experience.
Cari Young, ScM, 2015-2016 Genetics & Public Policy Fellow, describes her experience.


  1. Am I eligible based on my qualifications? 
    Candidates are expected to have an advanced degree in human genetics or a related scientific field. We will consider a candidate whose advanced degree is not in genetics per se if the individual has received training in genetics and has acquired an understanding of the science.

  1. I am not a US citizen/resident. May I apply? 
    The fellowship is designed for individuals wishing to pursue a career in policy in the United States. One does not need to be a U.S. citizen to apply, but one must be able to work legally within the U.S. ASHG and NHGRI cannot sponsor visas to enable a citizen from another country to become a fellow. 

  1. How do you define early career? 
    We do not have a strict definition of ‘early career’. Ideally, candidates will have completed their graduate training but be early in the career development path. Most successful candidates are postdoctoral fellows or genetic counselors who have received their terminal degrees in the last few years. That said, applicants are not required to have received their terminal degree within any specific time frame.

    The fellowship is not designed for individuals who have already clearly established a career path, such as someone with an assistant professor position at a research institution.

  1. I will receive my advanced degree after the application period closes. If I apply, will I be considered? 
    We will consider applicants who do not have their advanced degree when they submit their application, but who anticipate receiving their degree before the end of May of the same year. However, we cannot consider applications from individuals who will not have their advanced degree by the end of May. This is because we select the fellow early in June and the applicant chosen needs to have the requisite qualifications when they are awarded the fellowship.

    If you wish to submit an application, and anticipate receiving your advanced degree between the closing date and the end of May, please contact us.


  1. What is the timeline for consideration of the applications after the application period closes in April? When I will hear? 
    The fellowship application period closes near the end of April. In May, the selection panel reviews all the applications and identifies candidates to be interviewed by phone. From this pool, several candidates are then selected for a final face-to-face interview and the fellow is chosen in early June. All applicants can expect to be contacted about their application in May or June. 

  1. Do you need recommendation letters from my references?
    We do not require written letters of recommendation from your references at any stage of the process. With regard to references, you need only provide us with the reference information requested on the application form. We subsequently contact the references of individuals selected for an in-person interview. Prior to the in-person interviews, we reach out via email to coordinate a time to speak on the phone with each candidate’s references. We do not contact the references of other applicants.

  1. What makes a competitive candidate? 
    Candidates must have appropriate training (see question 2). Competitive candidates express a keen interest in transitioning to a career in science or health policy, and can articulate why they need the fellowship to make this transition. Outstanding candidates will have sought policy-related experience.

  1. What kind of policy experience is desirable? 
    The selection committee is typically impressed by individuals who have pursued opportunities to become involved in policy or who have taken part in other activities outside of their primary responsibilities. Examples might include sitting on a policy committee at their institution, participating in an organization for early-career scientists (such as the National Postdoctoral Association), contributing to a science policy newsletter, writing for a local newspaper on policy issues, completing a short policy fellowship, volunteering at the local office of a member of Congress, or participating in a day lobbying Congress in support of biomedical research. Pursuing such activities demonstrates that the applicant has been seeking to become engaged in policy and has some sense of what policy work entails. 


  1. How does this fellowship compare with other science policy fellowships?
    The fellowship is unique in its emphasis on science and health issues related specifically to genetics. It is also unusual because it has three rotations, allowing the fellow to work in and compare different policy environments – the Executive Branch, Congress, and a scientific non-profit organization. Whereas some fellowships are agnostic on the career goals of the fellows, the Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship is designed to enable an individual to transition to a career path in genetics, science or health policy. 

  1. How is it different from the ASHG/NHGRI Genetics Education and Engagement fellowship? Can I apply for both? 
    While both fellowships have three rotations and are sponsored by ASHG and NHGRI, the fellowship experience and goals are very different. The Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship is designed for individuals wishing to pursue a career in science and health policy, and the three rotations are designed for that goal, including a longer rotation in Congress. In contrast, the Genetics Education & Engagement Fellowship is for individuals pursuing a career with an education focus.

    Candidates are not prohibited from applying for both fellowships. However, any candidate choosing to apply for both is encouraged to articulate in their application materials why they are doing so, given that the goals of the two fellowships are different. 

  1. How does the fellow choose their office on the Hill? 
    Finding a Hill office is a key goal of the fellow’s first rotation. Although the fellowship mentors guide the fellow and help facilitate them with this task, there are no fellowship restrictions on the selection of office. The fellow can go to the office of his or her choosing, so long as the chosen office has expressed an interest in the fellow.

    Fellows develop a list of potential offices of interest in September. They do their initial outreach to the Hill and interview with offices in October, and make their final selection in November. The Congressional rotation starts in January. 


  1. Where do fellows go at the end of their fellowship? 
    Fellowship alumni are in diverse areas of science and health policy. For instance, since completing their fellowship, fellows have worked in the Administration (National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Science and Technology Policy); patient advocacy groups (Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, American Heart Association); professional societies (American Association for Cancer Research, American Association for Dental Research); companies and industry groups (Affymetrix, Biotechnology Industry Organization), coalitions (Personalized Medicine Coalition, National Pharmaceutical Council), and in the U.S. Senate. To view where alumni are currently employed, see the ‘Current and Former Fellows: Where They Are Now’ table below. 

Year Fellow Current Employer Title Office Rotation in Congress
2018 Eve Granatosky ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellow Senator Richard Blumenthal
2017 Nikki Meadows ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellow Rep. Louise Slaughter; Senate HELP Committee
2016 Christa Wagner Association of American Medical Colleges Senior Legislative Analyst Sen. Sherrod Brown
2015 Caroline Young NIH – Office of Science Policy Health Science Policy Analyst Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
2014 Katherine Blizinsky Rush University; NIH - All of Us Research Program Assistant Professor; Policy Director Sen. Patty Murray
2013 Katherine Donigan U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Staff Fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren
2012 Laura Koontz Flatiron Health Director of Regulatory Policy 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 UCHealth Senior Director for Regulatory Affairs 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 Diseases (NIAID) Section Chief for Legislative Activities Senate HELP Committee
2007 Pam Bradley Adaptive Biotechnologies Director of Policy and Advocacy Senate HELP Committee
2006 Ed Ramos NIH - All of Us Research Program Team Lead Sen. Barack Obama
2005 Derek Scholes ASHG Senior Director, Policy & Advocacy Senate HELP Committee
2004 Mike Stebbins Science Advisors President Senate Minority Leaders Office
2003 Jennifer Leib Innovation Policy Solutions Founder and CEO Senate HELP Committee
2002 Daryl Pritchard Personalized Medicine Coalition Senior Vice President, Science Policy Rep. Louise Slaughter

Nikki Meadows

I had some amazing opportunities during the course of this fellowship. I’ve gained so much from this program, both personally and professionally, that I am forever changed by it.
- Nikki Meadows (2017 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Christa Wagner

The ASHG/NHGRI Fellowship has provided me with a diverse array of experiences, both in terms of topics covered and settings in which I worked on policy. The Fellowship provides an exceptional experience for those with a background in genetics to play a role in effective policymaking.
- Christa Wagner (2016 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow) (read more about Christa’s experience on The ASHG Blog)

Cari Young

The ASHG/NHGRI Policy Fellowship provided me with diverse learning opportunities and the chance to contribute meaningfully to the formation and analysis of health and science policy.  It provided a unique opportunity to take on varied roles within the science and health policy landscape, allowing me to experience the pros and cons of working in each setting and helping me to crystallize my thinking on where I might want to go next. It also made me a more marketable applicant for policy positions beyond the fellowship.
- Cari Young (2015 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow) (watch a video interview with Cari about her experience)

Laura Koontz

The ASHG/NHGRI Genetics and Public Policy Fellowship was without exaggeration a life-changing experience. My fellowship allowed me to take my background in genetics research and translate it into a career as a public policy professional at a national cancer patient advocacy organization. Not only has the experience been invaluable, the network of fellows I've joined as an alumna are among the best policy professionals in D.C...The fellowship has also allowed me to fully realize my commitment to bettering the lives and treatment of people with cancer - the reason I got into scientific research in the first place!
- Laura Koontz (2012 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Cristina Kapustij

I've gained a very desirable skillset and professional network only achievable by doing the work I was given. I will use the tools this experience has given me in every aspect of my career. This fellowship has created a group of impressive policy makers networked into the genetics community that is a force to be reckoned with in Washington, DC. And our numbers grow every year.
- Cristina Kapustij (2011 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Sara Selgrade

One of the most valuable things about the fellowship has been the group of former fellows, most of whom are still working in policy in or near Washington, D.C. They are an amazing resource and a testament to how the fellowship prepares you for a variety of rewarding careers at the intersection of science and policy.
- Sara Selgrade (2008 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Pam Bradley

The ASHG/NHGRI fellowship is unique in providing "immersion" experiences in multiple sectors, giving the fellow a first-hand understanding of the different perspectives, motivations and limitations in policymaking. The fellowship was instrumental in launching me into an exciting and rewarding policy career that builds on my science background. The past fellows network is also an amazing resource. Access to the variety and depth of expertise of the past fellows greatly enriched the fellowship experience, and the growing network continues to help me professionally and personally.
- Pam Bradley (2007 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Ed Ramos

Without question, the fellowship brought to light new pathways not often considered when pursuing a PhD and I am grateful for the strong network that supported me as a fellow and continues to support me to this day.
- Ed Ramos (2006 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Derek Scholes

"This fellowship changed my life. During my postdoc, I developed a passion for science and health policy, and was very keen to pursue a policy career. The fellowship was exactly the opportunity I needed to gain the training, knowledge and experience necessary to enter the policy world of Washington, D.C. Because the fellowship allows the fellow to work in different settings, I gained an appreciation of the range of career options available, and this empowered me to choose a career path after the fellowship that was right for me. It is a wonderful bonus that the alumni from this fellowship all remain in contact with each other: I consider this network of former fellows to be among my most trusted colleagues."
- Derek Scholes (2005 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Daryl Pritchard

So many opportunities have been afforded to me by this fellowship. When I first applied for the position, I was a genetics postdoc living in DC. As a scientist, I primarily worked in a laboratory and didn’t have many chances to communicate with others about my research and technological advancements in medicine. I was interested in public policy and got involved in government relations. The fellowship allowed me to go further in that direction by combining my scientific expertise with the communication of science to large audiences, and it provided me with experience and skills in policy development, legislative affairs, business, and government relations that I continue to draw upon today."
- Daryl Pritchard (2002 ASHG/NHGRI Fellow)

Rotations for 2019-2020 Fellowship

Sept. 2019 - Dec. 2019
Policy and Program Analysis Branch, Office of the Director, at NHGRI: Participate as a member of the Branch on a variety of projects related to genomics policies and other activities such as the development of the federal budget.
Jan. 2020 - Sept. 2020
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. 2020 - Dec. 2020
Advocacy at ASHG: Work within the ASHG science policy office on Society advocacy initiatives and on policy issues related to genetics research, the use of genetics in the clinic, and the non-clinical applications of genetics in society.


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.

Qualifications and Skills

Candidates are expected to have an advanced degree in human genetics or related field. 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).

Selection Process

A committee of representatives from ASHG and NHGRI will review application materials in May and interview finalists in early June. Candidates are asked in the application materials to explain their motivation, areas of interest, and future plans.

Applications for the 2019-2020 fellowship are now open. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 19, 2019. We are no longer accepting applications for the 2019-2020 fellowship. The next application window will open in late February, 2020.

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

Cristina Kapustij, MS,
Chief, Policy and Program Analysis Branch,
National Human Genome Research Institute and Derek Scholes, Ph.D.
Director of Science Policy,
American Society of Human GeneticsContact

Questions can be directed to:

Derek Scholes, PhD
Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy
American Society of Human Genetics
Cristina Kapustij, MS
Chief, Policy and Program Analysis Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute