Research Experience

Hi Everyone!
I've been lurking awhile! It's so wonderful to see all the of the successes. It's one of my greatest motivators that I can do this at 32!!!
I have a question about clinical and research opps. I'm quitting my job next january to go back to school to do post bac premed work full-time (retaking all the requirements since it's been 12 years). I really, really want to get involved in some research programs next year. I have lots of volunteer stuff - Diabetes Society (am a type I diabetic) and hospital auxilary. How would I go about getting involved in research. I'm particularly fascinated with immunology (since my disease is an auto-immune disorder). Should I approach my professors or are there other places I can look for this experience? Summer research opportunities?
Any advice would be appreciated! BTW, CONGRATS to all who received acceptances for class of 2007! You are my role models!!!

There’s several ways you can find out information for research, but to get hired at a school definitely talk to your professors, take a look and see if your school’s dept page lists the teachers and their research projects and then email the ones you would be interested in working on. Also, there are often bulletin boards of opportunities listed on campuses too, but those are usually outside of your own school. Also ask the advisors at your school too.
Usually I think professors are responsible for hiring their own researchers – some positions are credit-oriented, others are work study, and others are just paying jobs. Usually whether they are paid or unpaid will depend on how much grant money the project has received.
Honestly, the best way to get involved at your own school is simply to communicate with the people you are interested in working with rolleyes.gif
Good luck!
–Jessica, UCCS

Definitely contact researchers at your institution to see if there are research positions available. For summertime, you can consider SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship). These are research programs for undergraduate students at many, many, many colleges, universities, and medical schools. I am not sure what you eligibility would be as a post-bac student as opposed to a degree-seeking undergraduate student, but it is worth looking into. Do a search on the internet or ask your advising office for information on SURF programs. And I know there are some OPMers that are former or current SURFers (unfortunately I am not).

If you are currently enrolled in school, you can apply for summer fellowships–and, with less ease, year-long fellowships–at the National Institutes of Health. Go to their website at
I can tell you that the key to success in the past was to apply through this centralized process, but then contact labs you’re interested in directly. However, the selection process has reportedly changed recently so I’m not sure whether this is still the case. Still, if a lab wants someone they will usually find a way to get them; whereas central app. processes are a sort of either/or “we like you or we don’t” proposition, and their priorities are not the same as the labs’. There are of course a great many immunology researchers and diabetes researchers on the NIH campus (I worked in a lab working on basic theoretical issues in immune function). Diabetes researchers are located within the NIDDK and many other immunologists (incl. many working on autoimmunity issues) are within NIAID. If you are willing to move to Bethesda (or already live in the area) this can be a great opportunity, and a paid one at that.
The key is to find out about people’s work by looking for people you’d want to work with (e.g., via PubMed searches of literature in a field you want to work in, with key word “NIH” as a way to find the NIH researchers) and then after reading some of their work, contact them by telling them why you’re interested in their work particularly. This would be true as well for finding researchers in your own area.
You can email me off line at if you have more questions about this after looking over the training pages.
Good luck–

Hi, I am a former SURF student for both Mayo and Vanderbilt/Meharry (joint program) and will be going back to Mayo this summer. There are literally thousands of SURF programs all over the nation. I usually apply to the ones affiliated with a medical school so I can network a little bit. It is not difficult to get accepted if you apply early (usually applications become available in the late fall for some programs) and stay on the ball with the application. If you do a search on google for summer undergraduate research fellowships you should get many many hits. Another way you can go about this is to narrow it down to some schools you would like to do research at, and go to their web page and do a search there.

Some post-bac programs may have a built-in opportunity for this. I just found out yesterday at JHU that one of the things you must do is pick an elective or a medical practicum for a semester. They handed me a booklet with about 100 names and research or clinical opportunities for the practicum. It’s up to the student to find a topic to work on, a mentor to work with, and make it into what they wanted it to be.
There were bench research opportunities, surgical room opportunities (cranofacial surgery in shock trauma eight hours a week!), research study opportunities…I was drooling and imagining all of the possibilities late into the night last night. tongue.gif
I understand that many of these experiences translate into futher work during the glide year. As with everything, you get out of it what you put into it. But your post-bac program may have some linkages to make it easier for you to explore the endless opportunities.
Good luck! And enjoy your path down this journey…