2014 USP Summer Internship Program

The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) Summer Internship Program offers students of chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, and related science disciplines, the fulfilling opportunity to spend 12 weeks at USP working on a defined project that expands and enhances USP's core strategic initiatives focusing on the following areas:

  • Healthcare Quality Standards—Assist in updating the Medicare Model Guidelines categories and classes of drug products that may be used by prescription drug plans. Assist in provision of drug information to support the Therapeutic Information and Formulary Support Expert Committee. Assist in the development of standards related to patient safety including, but not limited to the content and format of electronic screen display on electronic media used in healthcare, use of flow restrictors in containers used to deliver liquid medication to children to prevent unintentional overdosing, revisions to USP pictograms to improve health literacy, and research related to labeling and physical environments that promote safe medication use.
  • Reference Standards LaboratoryQuality of Manufactured Medicines—Assist in developing and validating monograph procedures in USP’s Applied Research and Development Laboratory. Duties include performing laboratory testing using FTIR, NIR, or Raman instrumentation to analyze pharmaceutical active ingredients and excipients. The data collected would serve as a basis for the development of a monograph procedure or general chapter for identification and/or adulteration/contamination. This project will require experience with handling of chemicals and precise documentation of experimental conditions and findings.
  • Global Health Impact ProgramQuality of Medicines—Assist in preparing a review of scientific articles on the quality of medicines including the analytical methodologies to assess their quality. Duties may also include conducting laboratory testing using spectroscopic devices. The applicant should have interest in public health and analytical chemistry. 

    Quality control laboratories are usually overwhelmed with a large volume of pharmaceutical products that are submitted to the registration unit for consideration for market authorization. Laboratories are often left with the option to either painstakingly test all the products submitted for registration thereby delaying the process or neglect to test the products and risk allowing counterfeit or substandard medicines entering the market.

    There is need to develop a risk based methodology for prioritizing which medicines get tested for public health. This approach will ensure that high risk products are subjected for testing as a priority and low risk products are either tested minimally or not tested a all. This will ensure that registration of critical medicines is not delayed and high risk medicines are tested to avoid exposure of the public to substandard or counterfeit medicines.

    The research will involve identifying three countries in Africa and collecting data on the types of medicines submitted for registration. Common trends between the three countries will be identified and a risk category for the medicines will be developed based on source and origin of the products, type of medicines, and class of the medicines and frequency of use or popularity of the medicines. A quantitative criterion (numerical value) could be developed to determine which medicines are high risk medicines to test and which ones need not be tested. Thus will reduce backlog and also ensure that high risk medicines are tested.
    Candidate needs background in mathematics and knowledge of science or Biology
  • Excipients—- To further expand and enhance USP’s core strategic initiatives in the excipients area, this project will identify nomenclature challenges surrounding inactive ingredients present in regulated drug products in the US and beyond that are part of the existing Excipient Expert Committee’s workplan for monograph development and/or modernization. Duties will include the review of the current USP Monograph Tracking Tool (MATT) database and its existing chemical information based on molecular structure and/or descriptive information associated with nomenclature appearing in USP-NF, USAN dictionary, other pharmacopeial publications including EP, JP and BP; food standards setting publications including FCC and JECFA and chemical standard publications including JPE. Duties will also include generating a list of inactive ingredients with all related chemical names associated through CAS Registry Numbers, their corresponding permanent, unique, unambiguous identifiers (Unique Ingredient Identifier (UNII)) for inactive ingredients in regulated drug products.  Although this is not a laboratory-based position, the applicant should have an interest in organic, physical and analytical chemistry.

Duration: 12 weeks, 37.5 hour work week
Location: U.S. Pharmacopeia Headquarters
12601 Twinbrook Parkway
Rockville, Maryland 20852

Dates: May 26, 2014–August 15, 2014
Compensation: Participants receive an hourly rate for each hour worked. Interns are responsible for travel, housing, and living expenses.
Application Deadline: February 3, 2014


visit https://www.usp.org/about-usp/careers/internship-fellowship-programs or contact

OnaLee Dougherty, Talent Acquisition Specialist, at ocd@usp.org


The program provides interns with the opportunity to

  • enhance appreciation and understanding of USP's activities in standards-setting, core compendial activities, and global public health
  • advance scientific and/or practice knowledge
  • contribute to USP's research and standards knowledge base in a tangible way

Eligibility and Requirements

Undergraduate sophomores, juniors, or seniors and graduate students majoring in chemistry, biology, biochemistry or pharmacy are eligible. In addition, graduate students in pharmaceutical sciences are also eligible. You must have completed basic chemistry courses, including quantitative chemical analysis. International students must possess the appropriate visa. Applicants must exhibit self-motivation and independent work habits, excellent oral and written communication skills, computer competence, and ability to apply their education and experience.

Application Procedures and Deadline

Submit 1) resume, 2) transcript, 3) letter of recommendation, and 4) essay (no more than 300 words) describing your interest and aspirations in the pharmaceutical, quality of manufactured medicines, excipients, and healthcare quality standards sciences to OnaLee Dougherty, information at left.  Applications must be mailed or emailed and received no later than February 3, 2014.  USP will contact applicants quickly following the deadline to schedule interviews.