How to Find a Research Mentor
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is home to investigators involved in cutting-edge research on all levels. Many serve as mentors to medical students by teaching them how to formulate a hypothesis, develop a research proposal, and carry out a research project.
The faculty and staff of the Medical Student Research Office are committed to guiding students through their research projects and, in many cases, their career path. Working with a mentor offers numerous benefits, such as learning from established experts in your chosen discipline, developing grant-writing skills, and enhancing your presentation delivery.
Steps for Choosing a Mentor
If you want to carry out a summer research project, you should begin exploring your subject and identifying potential mentors during the fall semester.
Once you have identified an area of interest, you can ask your classmates for suggestions for an appropriate mentor or look through the online bios of faculty members in a particular department. All students should also make an appointment to see one of the faculty in the Medical Student Research Office to discuss potential mentors. When you have some names to consider, conduct a PubMed search to see what s/he has published in the last few years, which will give you a more specific idea of the individual's research focus.
Once you have found someone researching your desired subject, send an email to ask whether they have any ongoing projects suitable for a summer research project. You would follow the same process for a Scholarly Year or other program. If the proposed mentor has projects available, make an appointment to talk further in person.
Since positions, along with a mentor's time, are often limited, you will increase your chances of being invited to join a group if you can demonstrate you have taken the time to research the individual's prior work. This will attest to your sincere interest. It is always helpful to exhibit motivation and enthusiasm.
In order to encourage students and mentors to discuss their expectations of a working relationship and to identify the responsibilities of each, a Mentor/Mentee Agreement [PDF] was developed. Students doing a summer project or a Scholarly Year complete the agreement with their mentor and submit it as part of the approval process.
Karen Zier, PhD
Associate Dean for Medical Student Research
Christina Wyatt, MD, MS
Grace Oluoch, MBA
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
One Gustave L. Levy Place
Annenberg 13-30, Box 1257
New York, NY 10029