students in the lab

On Location: Washington, D.C. / National Institutes of Health

Virus Evolution: Combating Disease in the Modern Age

2019 Application Closed

This program has reached capacity and is no longer accepting applications.

On Location programs are immersive and rigorous academic experiences. Program sites are carefully selected to enhance course content. The connection between site and course content offers students a rich experiential learning experience. The programs’ interdisciplinary approach help prepare students for the increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century by exploring the interconnectedness of the global community and exposing students to varied perspectives.

The On Location: Washington, D.C. program, in affiliation with The National Institutes of Health and American University, explores the biology of fatal infections and what scientists are doing to combat outbreaks. Students will split their time between hands-on experiments in laboratories at the National Institute of Health (NIH), in-class lessons where experienced scientists will guide students through the inner workings of viruses and breakthrough technologies, as well as field trips to museums that showcase plagues of disease throughout American history.

Areas of Focus

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Epidemiology
  • Technology

Course of Study

All students in this program enroll in one course:

Virus Evolution: Combating Disease in the Modern Age

Viruses can mutate in the blink of an eye. In today’s world, scientists acknowledge that another disease outbreak is inevitable, and even with our best minds and technologies, viruses will continue to pose a threat to our very existence. Virus evolution is why we need a new flu shot every year, and how new viruses such as Zika and Ebola appear without warning. Germs can outmaneuver and genetically mutate to defeat even our best medicines, so how can we defeat them? Answer: By using them against each other.

In this course, students will explore the biology behind the most fatal infections facing society today and the steps scientists are taking to intercept massive catastrophes. Students will be led by an elite team of researchers on the microbiology, pathobiology, immunology and vaccines designed toward halting the world’s next pandemic. Newly emerging diseases such as Zika took the science community by surprise, so how can scientists plan for the next big pandemic? Will there be a completely new never-before-seen virus or will a well-known killer resurface, such as rabies, smallpox or polio?

After gaining a firm understanding of the world’s most infectious agents, students will engage in hands-on experiments, including growing their own microbes and dissecting key animal tissues that are especially susceptible to certain germs. Students will dive deeper into specific research questions surrounding microbiology with a final research project, which will involve sharing their newly found knowledge with others, just like modern-day scientists.

At the nation’s capital, students will explore the National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratories and learn about deadly new diseases from a scientist who leads initiatives to combat biosecurity threats to America, whether naturally-occurring, accidental or intentionally-designed. Students will visit key disease exhibitions, such as the National Museum of Medicine and Health, as well as the Epidemics exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History.

Additionally, as the science community trends toward big data and applying next generation genetic sequencing technologies, the course will introduce students to tools that data scientists would leverage to solve important disease related questions. This will include several introductions to the Python programming language and Jupyter notebook experience working with open source Influenza data to predict the next vaccine strain and an introduction to what machine learning can do to predict Type 2 diabetes.

A Typical Day

Morning Breakfast
Travel to NIH
Lessons: Plague, Influenza, Cancer
Afternoon Lunch
Breakout Session: Peer Reviews
Computer Lab: Data Mining
Evening Dinner
Study Hall/Computer Lab
Community Building
11:00pm Curfew

The schedule is thoughtfully designed to ensure students maximize their time in Washington, D.C.

Program Dates:

Two-Week Session:
June 30 - July 13, 2019

Eligibility: For students completing grades 10-12, ages 16-18 by June 2019.
An introductory biology or anatomy course is advantageous to students, but not required.

Fees: $6,246

Important Dates & Deadlines

This program has reached capacity and is no longer accepting applications.

Program Confirmation: On or before April 17, 2019

*NOTE: Do not book your flights or purchase plane tickets until you receive an email from Brown confirming the program

Program Forms & Flight Information Deadline: May 22, 2019

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information Accepted Students

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American University
Students will reside at American University.

Residential and Student Life

Students reside, eat and have some of their class time at American University in Washington, D.C. Students are assigned to double rooms that are fitted with bed and bathroom linens.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining hall at the student's residence. Residential and classroom spaces all come with secure Wi-Fi access.

The On-Site Director and Residential Advisors reside in residence halls with students, providing a safe atmosphere that supports student success by emphasizing community building and individual responsibility.

Your Program Fee includes:

  • Tuition fee for all courses
  • Residence hall and accommodations during the program
  • All meals
  • Site visits as described in the program description
  • Transfer from/to airport on day of arrival and departure

Not included in Program Fee:

  • Air travel to/from Washington D.C.
  • Textbooks
  • Items of a personal nature
Dr. Lauren Quattrochi
Dr. Lauren Quattrochi working one-on-one with student in laboratory.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Lauren Quattrochi is a neuropharmacologist and virology enthusiast who leads national government science initiatives on behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on how best to design, build, and explore new ways to ignite orphan vaccine research in areas of international need. Much of her daily work centralizes around breakthrough genetic technology, vaccine platforms, outbreak management, pharmaceutical manufacturing, clinical trial design, and medical countermeasures, as well as possible applications relating to national biosecurity and biodefense. Her passion for elucidating pathogen mechanisms, novel medicines and disease research pushes her to continue developing new and creative curriculum in the sciences. She has won competitive teaching awards on drug discovery and several public speaking invitations on her research. When she is not advising national government science initiatives, she teaches power vinyasa yoga or reads on medical history.

Kyle Meyer is trained as a biomedical engineer and self-taught AWS certified software engineer. Kyle's Master's research involved working with induced human stem cell derived cardiomyocytes - or heart muscle cells, studying and modelling their mechanics as they mature in different environments. Since his graduation from Brown, Kyle has taught alongside Dr. Quattrochi each summer while also teaching his own Android Development course in 2016. Following his interest in software development, Kyle now works on "big data," specializing in cloud integration and python for the government. In his personal life, Kyle runs marathons.

Kavin Nuñez is a PhD candidate in the Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology Graduate Program at Brown University. Kavin's doctoral research uses Drosophila Melanogaster, or the common fruit fly, to investigate how food-deprivation can affect memory-formation and -retrieval circuits. Particularly his research uses several genetic, behavioral, and molecular imaging techniques to investigate the specific neurons and molecules that are important for memory acquisition and retrieval. Kavin has previously helped teach the "Fatal Infections: How Scientists Combat Disease" Summer@Brown course with Dr. Quattrochi. He has also taught behavioral laboratory techniques for the "Drosophila Neurobiology: Genes, Circuits & Behavior" course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories the last two summers. When he is not actively researching or teaching, Kavin likes to spend his time practicing several different martial arts, going on hikes, and playing a variety of sports.

Vanessa Ehler | After receiving her B.A. in Spanish Language from Indiana University, Bloomington and La Universidad de Complutense in Madrid, Spain, Vanessa taught Spanish at the high school level in rural Connecticut for 8 years. Her Masters degree brought her back to Spain in 2007 with Middlebury College. After graduation, Vanessa resumed teaching and traveling with students. Vanessa is now the 9th Grade Dean at Brooklyn Friends School in Brooklyn, New York. Vanessa has traveled the world with students and encourages interaction with a wide variety of cultures and ways of life with an eye for justice and equity in every lesson inside and outside of the classroom. When not teaching, Vanessa practices yoga regularly and enjoys fermenting vegetables and learning about medicinal properties of herbs.

Program Director Rosario Navarro

About the Program Director: Rosario Navarro

Director of International Programs and Language Area Studies

Received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Lesley University, M.Ed. from Boston College in Educational Leadership K-12, and doctoral coursework in Adult Learning and Development at Lesley University. Rosario began her professional experience in higher education administration as a student affairs professional. She has been at Brown for over twelve years and currently oversees the pre-college courses for English language learners and On Location programs.

How to Apply

This program has reached capacity and is no longer accepting applications.

Admission Criteria

Prospective students must apply for admission. When evaluating applications, the admissions team looks for academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, social maturity, self-motivation and a readiness for participation in an independent academic environment.

A Complete Application Consists of the Following Items:

  1. A Completed Application Form
    Parents and Students: Please be sure to create only one account per applicant.
    Your application provides basic information about you. In addition, students should be prepared to write an essay. Although the essay prompt may differ depending on the program you apply to, in general, you should be prepared to tell us:
    • what you hope to learn in the program to which you are applying and why that program is of interest to you;
    • what areas of study you are interested in;
    • what contributions you hope to make in and outside of the classroom;
    • and any further information you want to convey to us.
  2. A Non-refundable Application Fee (payable securely by credit card within the Student Portal)
    One application fee per application submitted
    • Before 3/1/2019: $50
    • 3/1/2019 to 4/29/2019: $75
    • 4/30/2019 and after: $100
  3. An Academic Transcript or Grade Report

    Academic records must be submitted in the application form by the applicant. They do NOT need to be submitted by your school guidance counselor. Applicants must submit grades from the 2018-2019 academic term and at least two previous academic years. Acceptable attachments include, but are not limited to:

    • Progress reports;
    • Report cards;
    • Narrative assessments; and/or
    • Unofficial transcripts.

    Documentation must include your full name and the academic term(s) represented. Please also be sure an explanation of the grading scale used by your school(s) (i.e., A = Excellent, 5 = Average, etc.,) appears on the documents, or provide one for us, along with an English translation as appropriate.

  4. A Teacher Recommendation
    Within the application, applicants must submit the name and email address of a teacher who can attest to the applicant’s capabilities in a classroom setting. An email will be sent to the recommender to provide feedback to the admissions team.

Please note:

  • In some cases, additional application materials may be requested. Additional materials may include transcripts, essays, or teacher recommendations.
  • Applications will not be reviewed by the Admission Review Committee until they are complete.
  • Program admission does not guarantee enrollment in a specific course.
  • Courses may be cancelled at any time due to unforeseen circumstance.
  • Please wait to make travel arrangements until the program is confirmed.

Notification of Admission Decision

Applicants will be notified by email to log into their Student Portal to view their admission decision once it has been made. Our admissions team carefully reviews each application submitted. In most cases, admission decisions are made within 10 business days of receiving a complete application; however, during high volume times, it may take up to 15 business days.

Confirming Attendance with a Program Deposit

Accepted students must confirm their attendance by submitting a $300 non-refundable program deposit. Students attending more than one program must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit for each program. Students will not be able to enroll in courses until a program deposit is received.


Student and parents are encouraged to review our Policies page to learn about important payment deadlines, refunds, code of conduct, and more.

Important Information for International Students

Brown University Pre-College programs welcome applications from international students. Learn about English language proficiency requirements, Immigration Guidelines, Deadlines for Submitting Documentation, How to Apply for a Visa, and more on our International Students page.

For Pre-Baccalaureate Students: Please note that we must receive your completed application, including your teacher recommendation, by April 15th, in order to ensure sufficient time to review your application, and, if admitted, process I-20 materials. If you currently hold valid F-1 status, or are Canadian, you may be still eligible to participate in the program. Please email for more information.

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