Do you want to experience what it's really like to be a scientist?

Helios Scholars at TGen is a paid, eight-week summer internship program in biomedical research open to incoming and continuing undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students who have studied at an Arizona high school, college, or university. Interns work full-time on a research project under the mentorship of a TGen scientist to unravel the genetic components of diabetes, neurological disease and cancer. At TGen North in Flagstaff, interns focus their summer research on public health and pathogens such as Valley Fever and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Internships are available in all areas of translational bioscience: laboratory research, computational biology and bioinformatics, mathematics and statistics, and research administration.

As a part of the comprehensive program, Helios Scholars also: attend educational seminars to boost their professional skills, learn about bioscience career options, practice scientific writing, present their research, attend social networking events, and create a scientific poster.

The program capstone is a formal research symposium where interns present their project results and reflect on what they have accomplished during their tenure at TGen. Several interns are nominated to deliver oral presentations at the event.

Past interns boast an array of impressive accomplishments: published scientific abstracts and manuscripts, top national student rankings, acceptance into first-rate graduate and medical schools, and national awards and scholarships. 

Don't want to miss this great opportunity? Sign up for an email notification in December letting you know that applications are now open.



To be eligible, a 2024 applicant must: 

  1. Be at least 16 years of age by June 10, 2024;
  2. Be eligible to work in the United States;*
  3. Be a full-time college/university student during the Fall 2024 semester (undergraduate, graduate and medical school students are all eligible);
  4. Be a graduate of an Arizona high school by June 10, 2024, OR currently attend a college/university in Arizona;** and
  5. Be available to work 40 hours per week (excluding weekends) from June 10 - August 2, 2024.

*TGen will not directly sponsor any visas. It is the student's responsibility to acquire any required work authorization documentation before the start of the program.

**Current Arizona high school sophomores and juniors, please apply for TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy.

Program Dates

  • 12/11/2023

    Application opens online.

  • 2/7/2024

    The application closes at 5:00 pm Arizona time. All recommendation letters must be received by February 9th at 5 PM to be considered for selection.

  • 2/27/2024

    Selection committee evaluates all complete applications.

  • 3/1/2024

    Finalists notified by this date.

  • 3/4/2024 >> 3/27/2024

    Finalists may be contacted for interviews throughout this time. Not all Finalists are interviewed. Education and Outreach staff do not track interviews

  • 4/5/2024

    Final decisions emailed by this date.

  • 6/10/2024

    First day of the program.

  • 8/2/2024

    Intern symposium and program concludes.

Selection Process

There are two rounds of program selection. The first round involves a selection committee of TGen faculty and staff. The committee evaluates each candidate's potential for success using factors such as academic ability, initiative, personal achievements, dependability, character/habits of mind, and professionalism. Although the entire application is considered, the personal statement and recommendation letters are particularly useful for identifying the most exceptional students.

Applicants successful in the selection committee are notified of their "Finalist" status by e-mail and their applications are distributed to TGen scientists for interviews and final selection. Because these potential mentors choose their interviewees, not all Finalists will be contacted for interviews or accepted into the program. TGen mentors make the final intern selection decisions from the Finalist pool.

Education and Outreach staff do not track potential mentors' contact or interview schedules. Unsuccessful applicants of either round will receive notification by e-mail.

Admission is competitive, but diverse backgrounds and abilities are represented. Applications from underrepresented minority students are strongly encouraged.

"This program truly cares for its interns in that they want us to improve, to grow, to succeed. I was able to develop a personal and enriching relationship with my mentor". - Helios Scholar, Class of 2018


Program Contact

Before requesting additional information, please determine if your question is answered on any of the information pages.

Kristen Kaus

Manager, Education and Outreach
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
445 N. Fifth St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
[email protected]

Kim Thompson

Education and Outreach Specialist
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
445 N. Fifth St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
[email protected]


Helios Scholars are expected to:

  • Complete biosafety and human subjects training in a timely manner.
  • Work 40 hours each week under the guidance of their mentor.
  • Give an oral presentation of their research to their lab team.
  • Attend and actively participate in intern workshops and seminars.
  • Create and present a scientific poster for the capstone symposium.

"I loved the fact that I got to learn something new every day. I also loved being able to network with other interns and TGen faculty, because I feel like I've learned so much from every single person over the course of this program". - Helios Scholar, Class of 2018


Tips for Applicants

Use the information on this page to prepare a competitive application for the Helios Scholars at TGen summer internship program.

Personal Statement (600 words or less)

In 600 words or less, introduce yourself and explain why you should be a Helios Scholar. Your personal statement is the most important part of your application because it helps us get to know you in your own words. Do not write a narrative version of your resume.

To generate ideas for what you will write about, try asking yourself these questions:*

  •     Why do I want to participate in the program?
  •     Why might I be a stronger candidate than other applicants?
  •     What is unique and distinctive about me?
  •     What are my career goals?
  •     How would TGen benefit by selecting me?

*These are suggestions to help you get started. You are not required to answer them.

Before you submit your personal statement, ask someone you trust to proofread it and provide feedback. Bad writing or typos overshadow a good message and make your work appear sloppy.

Requesting and Submitting Recommendation Letters

Choose references who can discuss your character and provide a positive evaluation of your academic and professional aptitude. A good letter writer will provide new insight and perspective about you.
This might be a teacher/professor, coach, counselor, religious leader, employer, or supervisor from an extracurricular activity, etc. At least one letter must come from a teacher/professor (any subject). Letters should not come from friends, parents, peers, relatives, or TGen employees.

Give your references enough time to write and submit your letters by 5:00 p.m. Arizona time on February 9, 2024. It is your responsibility to ensure your letters are submitted to TGen via the electronic submission process.

Once you save the name and contact information for a reference on the application, a recommendation letter request is automatically generated via e-mail to each of your references, and a notification is sent to you via email. The request e-mail contains instructions for submitting a letter electronically through a unique link that will attach their letter to your application. If your reference does not receive the e-mail, you have the ability to send it again. Simply log back into your account, view your application and click the "Resend Request" button. You can also change a reference or contact the same way. If they are still not receiving your email, please have them add [email protected], and the IP address of to their whitelist. It is your responsibility to notify your references of this process. TGen does not contact your references until you have submitted your final application.

Download Helios Application Tips

Tips for References

If you have been asked to write a recommendation letter for a student applying to the Helios Scholars at TGen internship program, please review the following information.

What is Helios Scholars at TGen?

Helios Scholars at TGen is a paid, eight-week summer internship program in biomedical research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and is open to students who attended a high school in Arizona or currently attend a college or university in Arizona. The goal of the program is to educate, train and inspire the next generation of researchers and physicians by providing authentic experiential learning opportunities to Arizona students. Interns work full-time on a research project under the guidance of a TGen mentor to unravel the genetic components of diabetes, neurological disease, and cancer. Learn more about the program at

What should I include in the recommendation letter?

Please tell us how you know the student and why you think they are a strong and deserving candidate for this internship program. We value your insight regarding the student's academic ability, initiative, achievements, potential for success, dependability, character/habits of mind and professionalism. Specific anecdotes and examples from your experience with the student are much more valuable than generic praise and template letters. The ideal recommendation letter provides a realistic overview of the student's personal qualities, competencies and aptitude from your unique perspective.

How do I submit the recommendation letter?

When a student completes their application, a recommendation request e-mail is automatically generated to you at the e-mail address provided by the student. The e-mail contains instructions and a unique web link to submit the text of the letter and automatically link it to their application. Letters are not accepted by mail or e-mail and are due by the application closing date: 5:00 p.m. Arizona time on February 9, 2024. Please check your junk mail folder for misdirected e-mail. If the e-mail does not come through, the student can re-send it through their TGen account. In addition, please add [email protected], and the IP address of to your whitelist.

To avoid losing your work due to session timeouts, please consider editing your letter in a word processing program on your own system before submitting the text on this website. Keep in mind that you will need to use plain text.

If you have questions or any difficulty, contact Kristen Kaus at


I am graduating this year. Am I still eligible?

You must be a current student who will also be enrolled in school during the next academic year. For example, a student graduating in Spring 2023 who will enroll in college or graduate school in Fall 2023 is eligible. A student graduating this semester and not enrolling in additional classes or graduate school is not eligible.

I have a trip planned during the internship. Am I still eligible?

Scheduling is usually flexible. Each student must negotiate their schedule with their mentor; however, missing more than one week of the program is not advisable. Symposium attendance is mandatory.

If I have been a Helios Scholar before, may I apply again?

Yes, but no student may participate in the program for more than two summers. No more than 25 percent of each summer class may be program alumni. Alumni applicants must answer an additional application question and acquire an extra letter of recommendation from their previous TGen mentor to be considered.

How do I submit my application?

The application is electronic. Mailed or e-mailed copies of any part of the application will not be accepted. Please do not have your transcripts or resume mailed to TGen. 

For information on recommendation letter submission, please refer to the Tips for Applicants and Tips for References pages.

Are the letters of recommendation also due by the application deadline?

No! Recommendation letters must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 9, 2024. This is two days after the application closes. It is up to the applicant to ensure references submit letters before the deadline. Mailed copies or e-mail attachments will not be accepted in lieu of the electronic submission process outlined in the application instructions. The 2024 deadline for recommendations is 5:00 p.m. Arizona time on February 9, 2024.

How will I be notified of the decision on my application?

All applicants will receive final notification by email. Notifications are emailed throughout the spring as the candidate pool proceeds through the selection process. You may receive a notification as late as early May. Should a potential mentor-scientist want to interview you, you will be contacted by e-mail or phone. Interviews run from March 4 to March 27 for the 2024 summer. Education and Outreach staff do not track mentors' attempts at interview scheduling.

What should I write about in my personal statement?

Please refer to the Tips for Applicants page for detailed suggestions.

What tips and suggestions do you have for references and letters of recommendation?

One recommendation letter must come from a teacher or professor (any subject). The second letter can come from a teacher/professor, coach, counselor, religious leader, employer, or supervisor from an extracurricular activity, etc. Letters should not come from friends, parents, peers, relatives or TGen employees. For tips on choosing references, please refer to the Tips for Applicants page.

How does the selection process work?

Please refer to the Selection Process page.

Will all candidates be interviewed?

No. The selection committee does not conduct interviews. Candidates who are successful in the selection committee phase are called Finalists. Finalists' applications are opened to TGen scientist-mentors for review. During this phase, a Finalist may be called or emailed by a potential mentor to arrange a phone or in-person interview. Finalists may be contacted for interviews once, more than once, or not at all at any time during the interview phase (March 4 - March 27 for the 2024 summer). During this time, check your voicemail regularly and check your spam/junk e-mail folders for misdirected e-mail so you do not miss a potential interview. Education and Outreach staff do not track interviews.

Can you tell me if someone has tried to contact me for an interview?

No. Education and Outreach staff do not track potential mentors' attempts at contacting students for interviews, nor do they coordinate interview schedules between potential interns and mentors.

Will I get to intern in the specific research areas I am interested in?

Every effort will be made to match you to your preference, but it is not guaranteed.

I would like feedback on my application to make myself more competitive for next year. Who can I talk to about this?

We are not able to provide application feedback. All materials submitted by the applicant and their references and all materials generated during the review process (i.e. committee and reviewer notes, etc.) become the confidential property of TGen.

What does a typical intern schedule look like?

Working hours are somewhat flexible but a full-time commitment is expected. You should plan on working a minimum of 32 hours per week to complete the program. Most students work 40 hours per week (Monday-Friday). Interns do not have weekend or evening building access.

How much does the internship pay?

You will be paid hourly wages according to the highest educational level you have completed or formally started. For example, a high school student graduating Spring 2024 and entering college in Fall 2024 will be paid at the high school rate in the 2024 summer even if they have taken college-level courses during their high school years.

The pay scale is:

  • $14.35 per hour for high school students;
  • $15.05 per hour for undergraduate students; and
  • $17.40 per hour for graduate and medical school students.

No intern may work more than 40 hours in a week or more than 320 hours in total. All pay is subject to state and federal taxes.

Will I receive benefits like health insurance or vacation days?

No. This internship is a temporary position and is not eligible for benefits. All interns are covered under TGen's accident insurance policy.

What types of internships are available in the program?

Internship opportunities include all areas of the translational research pipeline: laboratory research, computational biology and bioinformatics, mathematics and statistics, and research administration.
If you have a unique area of interest and want to know if a relevant internship is possible, please contact Kristen Kaus at [email protected].

Where does the program take place?

Most Scholars work in downtown Phoenix at TGen headquarters. Some students intern at Translational Drug Development (TD2) on the Mayo Clinic campus in Scottsdale or in the Pathogen Genomics Division in Flagstaff.

I am interested in pathogens, infectious diseases, or public health, but I do not live in Flagstaff. What should I do?

The pathogen genomics and infectious disease division is located at TGen North in Flagstaff. Students interested in earning internships with this team must have living arrangements in Flagstaff. TGen's infectious disease research is not performed in Phoenix or Scottsdale.

Does TGen provide housing or housing assistance to interns?

No. Neither housing nor housing assistance is provided. All interns must secure their own housing.

Who are the mentors?

Mentors are active TGen scientists and professionals who have committed to hosting a student intern. Most TGen research faculty and staff are open to mentorship.

All other questions may be directed to Kristen Kaus at [email protected].

Apply Online

Applications are now closed.