1. Medical Student Research Office
two doctors talking

Mentorship Through the Medical Student Research Office

Mentorship allows students to pursue scholarly projects in an area that is important to them. Beginning medical students have the opportunity to learn more about an area they are considering for a future career, and advanced students can work on the cutting-edge questions being asked in their chosen future fields. Faculty mentors are both teachers and role models, serving as essential partners in a student's development.

How can a mentor help me?

Mentors support you every step of the way, offering suggestions, advice, knowledge, insight, and resources as needed. Specifically, mentors can help you:

  • Learn how to formulate a hypothesis
  • Develop a research proposal
  • Carry out a project
  • Analyze the resulting data
  • Communicate the results to the scientific community
  • Evaluate your own progress
  • Make decisions about future research
  • Find information for career planning

How to Find a Research Mentor

If you want to carry out a summer research project, you should begin by exploring your subject of interest and identifying potential mentors during the fall semester.

Once you have done so, make an appointment to see one of the faculty in the Medical Student Research Office to discuss potential mentors. You can also ask your classmates for mentor suggestions, search our Mentor Database, or look through the online bios of faculty members in a particular department. When you have some names to consider, conduct a PubMed search to see what they have 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 experience. 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.

You and your mentor should review a Mentor/Mentee Agreement, required as part of the approval process.

Mentor's Letter of Support

You will need a letter from your mentor detailing:

  • Your qualifications to participate in the program and your level of commitment
  • Your ability to undertake the proposed project and the feasibility of the time allotted
  • The mentor’s qualifications to advise the proposed project, along with availability of necessary institutional facilities
  • Goals for the training experience (e.g., ability to learn written and oral research presentation skills, present results at a local or national meeting, etc.)
  • Information about any additional mentoring available to you, if relevant, such as faculty co-mentors, graduate students, post-docs, or fellows in the group who can provide daily oversight


Patient-Oriented Research Training and Leadership
The Patient-Oriented Research Training and Leadership (PORTAL) program is a highly selective, strongly mentored program, designed to encourage career development of medical students who seek to become leaders as physician-scientists. Students in the program will earn a dual MD/Master of Science in Clinical Research.

Scholarly Year
In this program, you can opt to devote a year to conducting research or working on another type of scholarly project to obtain mentored, one-on-one research training, or to engage in a service or advocacy project.