AFNI Bootcamp Info

If you are not an NIH worker, and you have permission to attend an AFNI bootcamp at the NIH campus in Bethesda, you need to know the information in this document.


Depending on how much you are willing to pay, there are various options for hotels. Downtown Bethesda, about 1/2 to 1 mile from here, is fairly expensive -- maybe $200 per night (unless you can snag a deal on, which I've heard of working). You can also stay farther away, about 10 miles north, up in Gaithersburg or Rockville near the Shady Grove Metro station, and come to the NIH by Metro (subway train) -- the Medical Center station is on the edge of the NIH campus, on the Red line: Metro rail map.

Specific Possibilities

Wherever you stay, you want to be close to the Metro, so be sure to check a map before committing to a hotel! More information about the DC area Metro system (buses and trains) can be found at

The closest place to fly into is Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). You can then take the Metro (Yellow line) to downtown DC, change to the Red line at Gallery Place/Chinatown, and come up to Bethesda/Rockville. Or you could take a taxi (probably about $40-50 from DCA to here), or the SuperShuttle (about $30/person?).

Or you could use an NIH airport shuttle for free (patients visiting the NIH have priority over visitors, but I've never seen a shuttle 100% full, so being bumped is unlikely to happen). There are also NIH shuttles from the other airports in the area, BWI (Baltimore-Washington) and IAD (Dulles), which might have cheaper flight options.

If you take an NIH shuttle to here, you will be driven into the NIH and will have to go through a security and ID check at that time. The shuttle will then leave you at the North entrance to the NIH Clinical Center (Building 10), from which it is about a 10 minute walk to the Metro station (see the NIH map at the bottom of this Web page). Do not get off at the Children's Inn (Bldg 62 on the NIH map).

From IAD, you can also take a Washington Flyer bus to the Metro (about $10) and then continue on from there. A taxi from IAD to the Bethesda area will be about $70, I think. A taxi from BWI would be very expensive, since it is a long distance from here -- a SuperShuttle van would be much, much cheaper than a taxi (for one person) from either BWI or IAD.

Of course, there is Amtrak to Washington's Union Station, from which you can take the Metro Red line to Bethesda. And there are the various inexpensive long haul bus companies from some East Coast cities to the DC area; a couple of them (e.g., Vamoose Bus, Tripper Bus) stop in Bethesda near its Metro station (one stop away from the NIH); others stop in downtown DC.

Or you could just drive to Bethesda from wherever you happen to be. However, parking at the NIH itself is not a great idea -- non-NIH-ers have to pay. If you do want to park here, use the visitor parking center just South of the Medical Center Metro stop, immediately outside of the Gateway Center where you'll have to enter the campus (this parking garage is marked as MLP 11 on the NIH map below).

Getting Out
Reversing the process described above should get you back to the airport of your choice. You can take an NIH airport shuttle from the North lobby of the Clinical Center (Bldg 10), or take the Metro to DCA (allow about an hour), use a taxi or SuperShuttle, et cetera.

To enter the NIH campus without an employee's badge, you have to go through something like airport security (but with shorter lines) -- magnetometer, X-ray of bags, ID check. Takes about 5 minutes, and is pretty easy. Do not bring knives, guns, archery equipment, or alcohol in your bag!

For visitors to the United States: if you do not have a valid US ID, please bring a passport.

Your visitor's ID -- issued to you in the Gateway Center outside the Metro station -- is only good for 1 day. You'll have to repeat the process every time you enter the campus, as you are obviously a suspicious person and need to be keenly observed at all times, lest you uncover the hidden secrets of AFNI!

The 'M' at the right of the map marks the Medical Center Metro stop. As you come up the escalators from the subway, walk straight ahead across a 50 foot gap to the visitor's entrance (labeled 'Gateway Center' on the map).

AFNI Bootcamps are held in one of two locations:

See the NIH campus map at the bottom of this Web page for these locations. I suggest you print this map (or download it to your iPhone/iPad) to help guide yourself when you first arrive at the NIH.

The classes start at 8:30 each morning and break up about 5:30 pm (I reserve the right to change these times!).

Directions to Lister Hill
To walk to Lister Hill, after you pass through the security check in the Gateway Center, go upstairs and leave the building on the upper level -- if you aren't sure which way to go, ask for help. Outside this exit is the start of the sidewalk towards the Natcher Center (Bldg 45), the National Library of Medicine (Bldg 38) and Lister Hill (Bldg 38A). Follow the signs towards the NLM and 38A. The sidewalk and signs lead you past the Natcher Center; cross the street and head for the tall building to your right (West); the lower building (to the left/East) is the NLM, which is where you do not want to go! The auditorium is on the ground floor of Lister Hill.

Alternatively, you can leave the Gateway Center on the ground floor. A very short distance down the sidewalk is the stop for the NIH Campus Shuttle (shown as the oval drive on the NIH map below, above the "Ga" in "Gateway"), which will take you to a bunch of places, including the Lister Hill building. Either the "Campus" route or campus "Limited" shuttle vans will take you there. (The vans are clearly labeled on the front and with a placard in the window.)

Lister Hill bootcamps: The Natcher Center (Bldg 45, across the street) has a large cafeteria with many choices. The basement of Lister Hill has a decent cafeteria.

Note that eating or drinking in Lister Hill Auditorium is strictly forbidden! We get the use of the auditorium for no charge, but if a mess is made, we have to pay to clean it up. Since there is no charge to you for this bootcamp, please return the favor and do not put my (shrinking) budget at risk.

For dinner and other fun, downtown Bethesda (1 Metro stop farther south, or a 10-20 minute walk) is chock full of restaurants in all price ranges -- my personal favorite is the Cafe Deluxe -- the grilled tilapia BLT is great, and the lamb+goat cheese sandwich is even better. And Washington DC has some neighborhoods with lots of nice places, just a few Metro stops down the Red line (e.g., Cleveland Park, Adams Morgan, and Dupont Circle).

Also see this Google Map for an alternative view, which includes walking paths you might need to take.