Iowa Medical Student Research Program

Director: Robert D. Roghair, MD
Coordinator: Deanna Nielson, PhD

The Carver College of Medicine has been supporting medical student research for decades. In the 1960s, Dr. Francois Abboud and Dr. Melvin Marcus recognized the value of having medical students participate in research projects and started a program to support these experiences. From its modest beginnings, when a handful of students were supported for research projects, the program has grown tremendously, culminating in the establishment of the Iowa Medical Student Research Program (IMSRP) in 2000.

The IMSRP was established to encourage more medical students to participate in research experiences and to continue their engagement with scientific research throughout medical school and beyond. As an umbrella organization that oversees and integrates the medical student research programs listed below, the success of the IMSRP and these programs has been due in large part to faculty participation to help train students in research methods and to serve as outstanding physician-scientist role models. Over 250 faculty members have been involved and serve as potential research mentors for interested students and more than 200 students have graduated with Research Distinction.

Medical students have many different opportunities to get involved in research:

  • The Summer Research Fellowship Program allows pre-M1 (newly admitted) and M1 students to participate in a summer research project of their choosing with a faculty mentor here at the Carver College of Medicine. Students are paid a stipend to help cover their living costs while working on the project. Information about the Fellowship Program is disseminated through email announcements, the Iowa Medical Student Research Club, and announcements at events throughout the year.
  • The Medical Student Research Conference is an opportunity for the CCOM community to enjoy learning about research projects conducted by medical students in the college. Events include both oral and poster research presentations. Presentations are judged by physician-scientists, biomedical researchers and faculty who score the quality of the presentations. Recognition for best research presentations in various categories is noted through awarding of certificates and nominal cash award at an invited banquet following the presentations.
  • The Research Distinction Track (RDT) is designed for students to participate in mentored research throughout the four years of medical school. Students admitted to the track exhibit excellence in research, including presentation of research at meetings and writing of research results in manuscript form. This distinction track is mentioned in the student's Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) Letter for residency programs if the student is on-track to complete all program requirements by the beginning of the M4 year. Mention is also noted on the academic transcript and in the graduation program.
  • The Iowa Medical Student Research Club (IMSRC) is a student-run organization, recognized by the Student Organizations Office at the University of Iowa. All medical students are invited to participate in IMSRC-sponsored events. Student officers are elected annually, and students are encouraged to participate for all years of their medical education.
  • A few students choose to complete a year-long research program while in medical school. Students can chose from on- or off-campus options, including the following:

The IMSRP is overseen by the Medical Student Research Council, composed of physician-scientists and biomedical researchers throughout CCOM who have volunteered to assist with activities such as review of research proposals for the Summer Research Fellowship, judge presentations on Medical Student Research Day, and monitor student progress and the integrity of the Research Distinction Track.