Research Opportunities

The Scholarship and Research (SCHOLaR) program is designed to provide medical students with fundamental understanding of the research process and mentored scholarly training. The goal is to help develop (enhance) an understanding of scientific clinical methods in medicine, evaluate existing medical literature, encourage creativity, and support their dedication to advancing science and improving patient care.  

SCHOLaR connects and provides longitudinal mentorship that enables students to carry out rigorous scholarly project(s).  The primary learning objective is to learn how to ask a research question, obtain and analyze data with the purpose of answering that question. Although not required, nearly 90% of students participate in a research experience during the summer between first and second year.  This is the longest available block of time during medical school.  Students who work on a summer project with ISMMS faculty are eligible to  receive a stipend to cover their living costs.  All funded students present their work at the Karen Zier Medical Student Research Day which takes place in March each year and fulfills the scholarly product requirement. The SCHOLaR milestones help students stay on track towards fulfilling the scholarly product requirement. 

SCHOLaR consists of:

  • Classroom, multimedia materials, and small group discussions on study design, statistics, and evaluation of a research manuscript,
  • Guided navigation from finding a mentor to developing and conducting a study, and
  • Presentation of research findings.

The coursework in years 1 & 2 focuses on the principles underlying rigorous research epidemiology, biostatistics, and ethics. The final didactic block will focus on Evidence-Based Medicine, providing a bridge from the pre-clinical coursework to clerkships by focusing on the application of research to patient care.

Oversight of scholarly progress is provided by the faculty advisor, and mentors.  Students are also assigned a track advisor who will help navigate the process and milestones; offer feedback on their study; and follow their progress.

The scholarly product that fulfills the graduation requirement will be based on research begun and carried out after entering medical school.  Most projects will involve proposing a specific hypothesis or asking a question, obtaining and analyzing data, and synthesizing the results to demonstrate how the results help answer the research question.  However, this model may not pertain to projects in the Medical Humanities, Global Health, or Quantitative Biomedicine tracks, Community Health, Anti-racism, and Innovations in Health care. Students working in one of these tracks consult the Track Advisor for additional guidance.  For summer projects with an external mentor, students should share these guidelines so that the mentor is aware of the expectations and timelines.    

MSRO strongly urges students to join an existing project and work with the mentor to carve out a focused question for which the student can take ownership and produce a mentored first author abstract for Medical Student Research Day.  Eight weeks, the period of the summer research program, is not a long time and is far too short to start an entirely new project.  Joining an existing project will allow students to avoid start-up delays.  Because of past problems obtaining timely approvals from the IRB for human subjects research or from IACUC for animal research, students will not be eligible to receive a summer stipend from the Medical Student Research Office (MSRO) to work on a research study that does not already have these approvals in place by the March deadline.  Students in the Global Health program should consult their track advisor for modified deadlines. Students working with external mentors are not eligible for a summer stipend from the MSRO, but are encouraged to follow this timeline in order to avoid delays.

The Scholarly product is evaluated on:

  • Overall clarity 
  • Rationale for the study, clear goals
  • Demonstration that the objectives of the project relate to the problem 
  • Well explained methodology
  • Results that address the study question or problem statement
  • Acknowledgement of study limitations
  • Conclusion, including the significance of the findings and implications.

When to Carry Out the Scholarly Project

As part of the graduation requirements, students must present their scholarly work at Medical Student Research Day as a poster or an oral talk. Final abstracts are due in early January and Research Day is held in March. Exact dates can be found in the class Milestones Map.

Most students begin their required scholarly project during the summer between Year 1 and Year 2 and present their work in Year 2. To support students who do not fulfill their graduation requirement during Year 2, students must schedule an appointment with the MSRO Director as early as possible to discuss an alternative plan and timeline.

Medical students who participate in summer research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) may receive a stipend. To be eligible the mentor must be a faculty member in Mount Sinai affiliated hospitals & Health Care Systems faculty and the student must complete the appropriate SCHOLaR milestones. Note: Global Health students should refer to their program for further instructions about their specific applications and guidelines for funding.

The Summer Student Investigator Program takes place during the summer between MS1 and MS2, and provides an ideal time to have a short-term, focused eight-week research experience.

The Karen Zier, PhD Medical Student Research Day, held in mid-March is a forum for students to share the results of their research and projects with the Icahn School of Medicine community. Participants receive training on how to write an abstract and prepare & present a poster, and give an oral talk. More advanced students may use the opportunity to hone their presentation skills in anticipation of giving a presentation at a national meeting. Research Day is open to  medical students, regardless of where the research was done, or what year in their training it was done. Abstracts are published in the Research Day Abstract Book and posted on the School’s website and Blackboard. Visit the Medical Student Research Day website for more information.

A Scholarly Year is a year devoted to research free from clinical training. It allows students a more intense and focused research experience to develop and carry out a mentored project in an area of their choice. The project must investigate a question of scientific and medical value and be feasible to complete within the time frame available. Studies must be strongly mentored and approved by the MSRO Director.  Most students pursue a scholarly year following their third year to take advantage of the clinical perspective offered by the clerkships. The two top issues for students to consider is how the year will be funded and who their mentor will be.

For more information consult the Blackboard MSRO Scholarly Year sections:

  • Directory of internal and external funding opportunities
  • Detailed guidelines about the approval process
  • Guidelines for mentors of students

Applying for a Scholarly Year: 

Students considering a Scholarly Year (SY) must meet with the MSRO Director 6-12 months before the desired star  to discuss potential mentors, studies, and funding. The SY is an academic year.. Students may stay in housing and may remain on the school-sponsored health insurance.  Students going on a Scholarly Year are eligible to apply for financial aid loans to cover living expenses. Consult with the Office of Student Financial Services to discuss loan options.  

The Request for Scholarly Year form can be found on the Medical School Forms page and must be submitted by the May 15th deadline. If pursuing a second degree or a consulting fellowship consult with the Office of Student Affairs and not MSRO. 

Return from Scholarly Year:

Students must obtain clearance to return from a Scholarly Year. The form can be found on the Medical School Forms webpage. The return form is available on the Medical School Forms page and must be submitted by the March deadline. The scholarly product is due to MSRO by May 1, as is the Student Clearance Checklist, which addresses all compliance requirements for return to the clinical realm and school.  

If the necessary requirements are not completed, it is presumed the student no longer wishes to be considered in good standing and will be placed on administrative leave. To apply for reinstatement at a later date, students will need to complete a new application for admissions. 

Before taking a required sub internship in medicine or pediatrics, students are required to take a clinical refresher upon returning from scholarly leave into the fourth year. The clinical refresher must be a rigorous experience such as Emergency Medicine or a hospitalist elective. Experiences other than Emergency Medicine must be approved by the Faculty Advisor.

The Medical Student Research Office (MSRO) provides one research conference travel or publication fee award annually to MD, MD/MPH, MD/MSCR, and MD/PhD In some cases, students may be able to obtain additional conference travel pr publication fee funding from CMCA, the Global Health Institute, or Student Council. Funding for Scholarly Year students also may be available from national programs and mentors often support travel.

Further details and eligibility visit the Blackboard the MSRO page at this link, click here for the travel award and here for the publication fee award..

PORTAL is a five-year, 38-credit, multidisciplinary combined degree (MD-Masters in Clinical Research [MSCR]) program for medical students interested in careers as clinical investigators. ISMMS medical students are eligible to apply to the PORTAL program during their first year of medical school. This intensely mentored program offers a multidisciplinary approach to clinical investigation to introduce medical students to the field of clinical/translational research and how it drives the practice of clinical medicine.

Program participants learn to design and carry out original research studies leading to new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease. This comprehensive dual degree program prepares students for a future as lifelong learners as well as for careers in academia, research institutes, industry, or regulatory agencies. The curriculum focuses on building critical thinking skills and offers a solid foundation for conducting independent patient-oriented research studies. For thesis research, students pursue original scholarly research on a subject of their choice, guided by a faculty mentor and the program directors. This entails the formulation of a research question, design and conduct of a research plan, analysis of resulting data, and presentation of the findings.

The program MSCR coursework is taken during Year 2 and during the Scholarly Year (between medical school Year 3 and Year 4). Most of the thesis work is performed during the Scholarly Year and successful students are awarded the MSCR degree.

Students selected for the PORTAL program receive full tuition scholarship to cover the MSCR degree. There is no medical school tuition during the Scholarly Year. PORTAL participants receive a stipend during their Scholarly Year to cover living expenses, including health insurance. An information session on PORTAL is held for medical school Year 1 students in the fall. 

Complete information on the program, including the curriculum, can be found on the MD/MSCR PORTAL Program web page and on Blackboard under the MSRO page.

The MSRO Blackboard page contains additional helpful information including how to:

  • Write an abstract 
  • Prepare a research proposal 
  • Give an oral talk 
  • Make a poster 
  • Obtain IRB approval 
  • Access biostatistical support when planning a project or analyzing resulting data 
  • Research specific How to videos.