Children's National Medical Center - Sheikh Zayed Institute (4 positions)

by justineh

PICS Organization Name
Children's National Medical Center - The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation


Washington, District of Columbia

$4,700 gross

Public Transportation

Housing Provided

Former Interns
James Jared '19 (Image Analysis Tools), Aleksandra Kostic '20 (Stereoscopic Augmented Reality Project), Fitsum Petros '18 (MR-HIFU), Aaron Sun '18 (Project Vision Lab) 

Organization Description
An internationally recognized pediatric hospital with over 140 years of experience, Children’s National Health System is a center of excellence in the treatment of pediatric diseases. Children’s National is also home to the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, an institute devoted to advancing the frontiers of pediatric healthcare through cutting edge technologies, such as quantitative imaging. Founded in 2010 through a $150 million gift from the government of Abu Dhabi, the mission of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation (SZI) is to make pediatric surgery more precise, less invasive, and pain free. The Institute currently has more than 20 investigators primarily affiliated with the institute and more than 70 technical and scientific staff, including postgraduate and graduate students and fellows.

The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center is redefining what is possible in surgery through innovative, integrated research.  The Institute’s physician-scientists are applying their expertise in their specialized fields to pursue the common goal to make pediatric surgery more precise, less invasive, and pain-free. By combining research and clinical work in this area, the Institute is developing knowledge, tools, and procedures that will benefit children in the Washington region, across the country, and around the world.

Through four key initiatives, our physician-scientists are making team science a reality as they address four initiatives simultaneously:

  • Pain medicine -- developing tools and techniques to eliminate pain in children before, during, and after surgery
  • Bioengineering --using the most advanced technology to see inside a child’s body without the need for incisions
  • Immunology -- using a child’s own immune system to fight illness and cure disease
  • Systems Biology --personalizing treatment for every child depending on their unique genetic makeup, to improve treatment and cure disease

Internship Description

Please note that you may apply to each of the following positions with a single PICS organization selection, however you must write a separate cover letter for each position for which you would like to be considered. Include all cover letters for this organization in ONE pdf document.

Position: StethAid team (Dr. Raj Shekhar)
(Engineering and Design / Medical Services)

StethAid: A mobile technology for automated identification of innocent heart murmurs

An estimated 1 million healthy children with Still’s murmur, the most common innocent (benign) heart murmur of childhood, are referred to pediatric cardiologists by pediatricians and primary care physicians each year in the United States. These referrals and associated testing constitute an enormous unnecessary financial and emotional burden on families and the healthcare system.

StethAid is our solution to reduce these unnecessary referrals. Currently in an early clinical testing stage, StethAid is a mobile application for recording heart sounds and automatically identifying Still’s murmur, if present. It works in conjunction with a stethoscope attachment we have developed. The murmur identification algorithm uses machine learning to distinguish Still’s murmur from all other types of murmurs. Trained using hundreds of heart sound recordings the algorithm offers cardiologist-level accuracy.

The summer intern will work closely with the StethAid team and assist in the enhancement of signal processing and machine learning algorithms. The project will be an ideal learning opportunity for those interested in the emerging field of digital health technologies.   

Position: Project Vision Lab (Dr. Richard Cha)
(Engineering and Design / Medical Services)

We are interested in making surgery safer, more accessible and better outcome through super-human vision and machine intelligence. Our group published in Science Translational Medicine on the first supervised autonomous soft tissue robotic surgery. We are working to further improve the SMART vision system using multi-modal imaging beyond human visual range to display critical anatomic and physiologic structures.   We believe that in the future, machine Intelligence and learning will play a critical role in surgical Robotic guidance, where the robot can perform surgical procedures collaboratively with and autonomously from human surgeons.  

Project description: Our main project is to develop a smart vision tool beyond human visual range to display anatomic and physiologic information during surgery. Projects involve in machine intelligence and deep learning for surgical robot guidance, where the robot can perform complex surgical procedures such as deformable tissue anastomosis and resections autonomously.

Prospective Candidate’s Role: In this summer internship, a prospective candidate will learn medical imaging systems and participate in preclinical studies (small/large animal experiments). Candidate will mainly work on medical image processing and software development/validation.  For successful candidate, programming experiences/skills (Matlab, C, C++, JAVA, OpenCV, GPU Parallel processing) are required.

Required Skill/Experiences: Machine Vision and Image Processing

Preferred: Computer science or computer engineering major/ Junior or Senior

**Writing sample required: Personal Statement**

Position: MR-HIFU (Dr. Pavel Yarmolenko & Dr. Haydar Celik)
(Engineering and Design / Medical Services)

The student will work with a team of scientists, clinicians and engineers on development of MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound (MR-HIFU) for applications in pediatric oncology and orthopedics. Our group is pioneering the use of MR-HIFU as a non-invasive alternative to surgeries such as uneven limb growth treatment and solid tumor ablation. In addition to participating in a pre-clinical study of this application, the student will have the opportunity to address a specific, well-defined objective within this larger direction of research. The topic of the student-driven project will be chosen based on the student’s interest and level of experience.

Among the more clinically-oriented topics for student-driven projects are design and evaluation of physician-machine interaction in MR-guided interventions, design of clinical workflow scenarios, optimization of patient positioning, physiologic effects of various devices and analysis of clinical trial data. Students interested in practical applications of their biology and chemistry coursework may wish to pursue investigation of tissue damage following HIFU treatment using histology/immunohistochemistry or exploration of drug delivery systems that could be used in combination with MR-HIFU, such as temperature-sensitive liposomes. For students interested in engineering and product development, project choices include control algorithm development for specific applications of MR-HIFU, testing of the control algorithms in phantoms, and design of devices for MR-guided interventions, treatment optimization of with finite element modeling, and other exciting and creative possibilities.

The student will have the opportunity to observe clinical cases, including those that involve current invasive treatments for which we are developing non-invasive alternatives. Joint mentoring will be provided by assistant professors Pavel Yarmolenko and Haydar Celik. The student will gain practical and theoretical knowledge as well as organizational and technical skills. Each of the students who worked with us in the summer of 2014 had an accepted conference abstract, and one of the students filed a provisional patent as a result of their work. This program will provide exposure to a myriad of other research topics and medical applications at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, and give our intern the opportunity to make lasting connections.

Position: Image Analysis Tools (Dr. Marius Linguraru) 
(Engineering and Design / Medical Services)

The PICS intern will work closely with a team of pediatric scientists, radiologists and surgeons in the Bioengineering Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System to help design, develop and validate quantitate image analysis tools to define accurate and reproducible measures of pediatric diseases. Sample projects include the quantitative characterization of hydronephrosis severity in ultrasound imaging, the computer-aided assessment of small bowel motility and structure from dynamic magnetic resonance imaging of Crohn’s diseases, and the automated facial analysis from photography of patients with genetic disorders. Projects will be matched based on their stage of development and the fellow’s skills to maximize the outcome and impact of the internship. Participating in these projects, the fellow will be exposed to state-of-the-art computer-aided diagnosis and intervention. As in previous years, we anticipate offering co- authorship of an abstract or paper to successful interns.

The intern will work closely with Dr. Marius George Linguraru, DPhil who will be his/her primary mentor. The intern will also be integrated into the Institute’s Summer Student Innovators program, consisting of college and graduate students from various disciplines. As part of that group, the intern will learn about the theory and practice of biomedical innovation and attend state-of-the-art clinical procedures (such as robotic-assisted minimally-invasive interventions). The student will have the opportunity to experience all aspects of the Children’s Health System in Washington, D.C. to include observation in the operating room, observation of the children in clinic, patient rounds with the medical staff and professional lectures throughout the summer. The Sheikh Zayed Institute is unique in the world, and this internship represents an exciting opportunity to experience cutting-edge technology development in a collaborative multi-disciplinary environment.

Required Skills/Experience:

  • Programming
  • Mathematics 
  • Research


  • Image analysis 
  • Statistics

Expected Start Time
9:00 am, variable 

Expected End Time
5:00-6:00 pm, variable

Required Dates
06/04/18 to 8/10/18 must be consecutive, non-negotiable 

Internship Length
10 Weeks

Meets Certificate Requirement
Yes, Global Health Policy

Additional Info
Applicant must be a US citizen.

Background check, drug screening, immunizations, tuberculosis testing' required visit to CNMC at least two weeks before employment for completing paperwork. 
A wide variety of hosing options are available in Washington, DC. 

Some preparation may be required outside of the regular work schedule.

Evaluation Excerpt

It was a very educationally enriching experience, and I feel as though expansion on the work that I have done has the potential to benefit medical technology...My supervisor showed interest by challenging me to do new things, so I learned a lot of new skills. He also made sure that I never felt too pressured, knowing that research is never perfect.
—Aleksandra Kostic '20

It was pretty obvious to me how working in a children's hospital accomplished these goals. Especially by being included in the engineering realm of the hospital, I was working alongside the people who were inventing new technology to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of the population.
—James Jared '19


To see whether this internship is still accepting applications for 2018, please check the Second Round page.


To read evaluations written by former interns, please contact the
Student Program