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Summer Research Fellowships

Part of the Iowa Medical Student Research Program (IMSRP), Summer Research Fellowships (SRF) are designed to acquaint students who have an interest in research to career possibilities in academic medicine. Summer Research Fellowships are open to first-year medical students (M1) and students accepted for admission to the Carver College of Medicine (pre-M1).

Fellowships are generally 12 weeks long and offer students an opportunity to participate in the investigation of a scientific question under supervision of a faculty mentor. Fellows become familiar with the processes involved in defining a problem, formulating a hypothesis, evaluating its significance, designing experiments for its solution, and interpreting the data generated. Student summer research is performed under the direction of a faculty mentor from the University of Iowa. Students identify a mentor then plan, write, and submit a scientific research proposal which is reviewed by a panel of scientists. Awarding of fellowships is competitive; however, the success rate is usually high (we typically fund 80-90% of the proposals submitted). Preference is given to proposals that are conducted here at the University of Iowa. If you plan to submit a proposal for research in a foreign country, contact the IMSRP for initial screening at least two weeks before the application deadline.

Information about the SRF program is announced early in winter of the research year (click here). It is expected that a summer research fellowship be the student’s top priority and it requires a full-time commitment. Students may not participate in SRF if they are remediating a class over the summer or have other commitments that conflict with their ability to meet these time and priority expectations.

Interested students can search for research opportunities and identify potential faculty mentors using the mentor database or other Carver College of Medicine resources such as the departmental web pages. The fellowship generally requires a commitment of 12 weeks during the summer. The stipend for the fellowship is currently $5,844 for a 12-week period. Funding will be pro-rated for fellowships that are approved for less than 12 weeks, but in no case for less than 10 weeks.

As soon as the student has identified a mentor, that information must be sent by email to Deanna Nielson. With the mentor and research project identified, the student works with the mentor to write a brief research proposal which is submitted online. The application deadline for M1 and early-admission (pre-M1) students is in February; these students will be notified of funding status in mid-March. For pre-M1 students admitted on or after March 1, a second-round application deadline will be announced if funds are still available. Research proposals from this group will be reviewed and successful students will be notified within two weeks of the application submission deadline.

NOTE: Pre-M1 students applying to the Summer Research Fellowship Program need to email Deanna Nielson before submitting the application.

Guidelines and Tips for writing a successful proposal (i.e., one that gets adequate reviews and is therefore funded):

  • Find an outstanding scientific mentor. What makes an outstanding mentor?
    1. They have funding from the government or other agencies to do research. One way to check on this is to: a) ask the mentor about the funding of their research or b) look them up at Simply enter the mentor's name into the 'principal investigator' field and see a listing of his/her government-funded research.
    2. They have a PhD or have undergone research training.
    3. They have a long list of publications. A clinician (MD) with no research training, funding, or solid publication record is less likely to have high-quality research for you to work on.
  • Write an outstanding proposal.
    1. Make sure it is well-organized and has details about the science of the project (rationale, hypotheses, methods, statistical analysis).
    2. The most successful applications are a true 'joint effort' between the mentor and the student.

The program also encourages students to apply for outside funding opportunities. Students conducting research at the University of Iowa but funded outside the IMSRP may be eligible to participate in summer fellowship activities and may be eligible to receive up to an additional $500 in summer stipend and/or up to $1,000 in travel support to academic conference(s).

Please contact Deanna Nielson or Stephanie Whitlock if you have questions.

Other Clinical and Research Opportunities are located at the Careers in Medicine (CiM) website at the AAMC. Medical students have free access to CiM using your AAMC ID and password.