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APSA Virtual Summer Research Program (VSRP) -- Pilot
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Application CLOSED

COVID-19 has disrupted research across the country and many summer programs that individuals rely on to learn, grow and gain mentorship. In response to this concern, APSA would like to connect individuals to labs that may need VIRTUAL help or are able to mentor students VIRTUALLY.

Mission: Support individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in science and medicine who have been disproportionately been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Facilitate research relationships between individuals and institutions with the goal of increasing diversity in the MD/DO-PhD pipeline.






Program dates July 13 th - August 7th


Info for interested mentors and sponsors

Info for interested students

Physician-Scientist Mentoring Series 

Social Hours

Journal Club Sessions

Alternative for students: JAX Short Courses

Dates and deadlines

For future applicants: a VSRP-independent resource packet




For research opportunity sponsors:

We are looking for sponsors who are interested in virtually mentoring an underrepresented student in their research or sponsors who have research-related work that student mentees can do virtually. Examples include coding, data analysis, image analysis, mentored independent study, and scientific writing. Please

note that while our target student population are future MD/DO-PhD applicants, it is not required that laboratories be associated with such a program. We enthusiastically welcome research mentors from all institutions and many different fields. If you are interested in having a mentee for this summer, please fill out the form linked below, which includes more information.


Also please note that this mentorship can involve introducing the mentee to your research and the field. You can expose your mentee to important research papers including papers from your lab group. Furthermore, they can assist with scientific writing including literature review projects. It is not required for mentors to create an independent project.

We have designed an algorithm to match you with individuals that are interested in your field of research and who also have skills that you determined useful or necessary for the work you expect of the mentee. We will send you a list of student resumes that have been matched to your lab by our algorithm. You will have the option to pick which student(s) you would like to join your lab and may request interviews from your potential mentees before making a final decision. Please establish a flexible work schedule, while maintaining the minimum hour requirements.


In order to participate, it is required that:

  1. Lab mentors meet their mentees virtually at least once per week.
  2. The lab PI meets the mentee at least twice during the experience.
  3. The student spends 4 full-time weeks virtually associated with the lab. This equates to a minimum of 160 hours overall, which can be spread out over more than four weeks if necessary.
  4. The mentor helps the student prepare a short final presentation based on their VSRP work for the Symposium.

Note to sponsors: it is  not necessary to fund these programs. Many of our applicants will be underrepresented in medicine and some of them may not be able to engage in such an opportunity without funding. However, our baseline assumption is that this is not funded.


Once you agree to host the student, you are responsible for onboarding them as you do any other summer research member of your lab. APSA facilitates the match but cannot guarantee outcomes for either the sponsor or the student.


You are welcome to continue your mentorship relationship beyond the minimum four weeks, potentially into the fall. This can be decided at any point within the program.


For interested students:


Our mission is to support underrepresented individuals who were unable to find a summer experience or had their summer research experiences cancelled due to the pandemic. If you are in this situation, we invite you to apply. Note that a match cannot be guaranteed due to limited spots. Your work will most likely be on a volunteer basis. Note that funded spots are limited and therefore more competitive. Also consider that the labs you can be matched to will necessarily be limited if you request funding. We encourage only those who are unable to otherwise participate to apply for these funded positions.

We also have funded spots for the JAX short courses (explained below) for those interested.The Genetics short course is a prestigious program and you will learn valuable upper level biology.


Resumes should be no more than 2 pages and should include one paragraph with information about you: your skillset, interests, what you hope to learn and any need for funding. This is what will be sent to potential mentors. Resumes should be formatted as such: LastName_FirstName.pdf.


If matched, you may not start your experience until you have submitted a pre-experience survey. This survey will be sent to you after you have been matched. 

We have designed an algorithm to match you to mentors based on your interests and skills. Your resumes will then be sent to potential mentors through this algorithm. They will then have the opportunity to reach out to students of interest. Please be prepared to be asked for an interview, or not hear anything at all. If the latter occurs, please view our VSRP-independent resource packet below, which includes a financially covered virtual research-related activity.

The length of each project may vary, but they must be a minimum of four full-time weeks. Therefore, you must commit a minimum of 160 hours in total. We understand that you may need to work a paid job in addition to volunteer research. Furthermore, we acknowledge that students may be returning to their home institutions before the fourth week of the program. If this is the case, we encourage you to communicate this with your mentor before committing to work with them. You can spread out your hours over more than four weeks if necessary. Note that reading research papers and learning more about the lab field of study count toward these hours.


Physician-Scientist Mentoring Series

As part of the programming for VSRP, we will have weekly Journal Club meetings as well as informational sessions by prominent physicians and scientists.


Imposter Syndrome in the Mentor-Mentee Relationship with Dr. Tiffany N. Brown, Ph.D. and Dr. Oana Tomescu, MD PhD

Tuesday July 14th 5:00pm-6:00pm EST





Leveraging Mentoring with Dr. Ruth  Gotian, EdD, MS

Tuesday July 21st 2:00pm-3:00pm EST


Achieving Balance: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities as an Underrepresented Minority and Physician Scientist  with Dr. Meghan Kirksey, MD., PhD.

Thursday, July 30th 7:00pm-8:00pm EST


My Journey as a Physician-Scientist: From Snake Tongues to Human Brains   with Dr. Elizabeth Bhoj, MD., PhD.

Tuesday, August 4th 1:00pm-2:00pm EST



Social Hours


Student National Medical Association (SNMA) MD/PhD Social Hour

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 7:00-8:00pm EST 



FGLIMed (first generation, low income) Social Hour

Tuesday, July 28th, 7:00pm-8:00pm EST



Journal Club Sessions

1) Cardiac function modulates endocardial cell dynamics to shape the cardiac outflow tract July 23rd 7pm EST

2) Biomaterials-aided mandibular reconstruction using in vivo bioreactors July 27th 8pm EST

3) Zona incerta GABAergic neurons integrate prey-related sensory signals and induce an appetitive drive to promote hunting July 28th 4pm EST 4) Chromosome conformation elucidates regular relationships in developing human brain July 29th 7pm EST

5) Modular, tissue-specific, and biodegradable hydrogel cross-linkers for tissue engineering July 30th 8pm EST

6) Title: Strategies for unbiased drug target identification Paper: The Anti-tumor Toxin CD437 is a Direct Inhibitor of DNA Polymerase α Aug 1st 4-6pm EST

7) A linked organ-on-chip model of the human neurovascular unit reveals the metabolic coupling of endothelial and neuronal cells August 3rd 7pm EST 8) The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China August 5th 3pm 9) GABRA2 Alcohol Dependence Risk Allele is Associated with Reduced Expression of Chromosome 4p12 GABAA Subunit Genes in Human Neural Cultures August 5th 7pm EST 
10) Where have all the good drugs gone? Paper: Common pitfalls in preclinical cancer target validation  (2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine) TBD 11) Printing three-dimensional tissue analogues with decellularized extracellular matrix bioink August 6th 8pm EST
12) Title: Drug target identification in complex diseases Paper: Metformin suppresses gluconeogenesis by inhibiting mitochondrial glycerophosphate dehydrogenase Aug 8th 4-6pm EST


For Students: JAX Short Courses


APSA VSRP is partnering with Jackson Lab to support students in attending their virtual short courses. The Genetics Short Course is a prestigious annual program. We will have a limited number of sponsored spots. Other participants in the program will have discounted registration for $25 per person. This resource will be available to a few students who are otherwise unable to find a match and agree to opt out of matching somewhat early in the matching process. We will have more funded spots for students who opt out of VSRP matching altogether. This is a time commitment, so the sponsored spots will only be available for students who are not otherwise committed to a lab. Please see the attached links for additional information on the courses themselves. We will be reaching out to students with a special registration link for discounts. Note that the deadline to apply for the Genetics Short Course is July 10th. Please contact us if you have any questions. 

Jackson Laboratory: Short Course on Experimental Models of Human Cancer

Jackson Laboratory: Human and Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: THE MCKUSICK SHORT COURSE


Dates and deadlines

The deadline to submit an interest form is  July 7 th

Our pilot program start date is July 13 th

JAX Genetics Short Course Registration due date: July 10th


The length of each project may vary, but they must be a minimum of four full-time weeks.

For future applicants: a VSRP-independent resource packet 


Please refer to the  Resource Packet we constructed. This packet provides online materials that can be used to continue learning useful skills in the research setting. Even if you are unable to find a lab this summer, we encourage you to continue learning and growing, and we hope that these online resources provide some tools to do so. The packet will continue being updated, and we encourage you to reach out if you are aware of any other resources so that the packet can continue to grow. 


We also created an FAQ document based on common questions that came up during interactive sessions for future applicants with panels of MD/DO-PhD directors and current trainees. This document includes specific questions about applying during this pandemic (ex. delayed test dates, loss of summer or gap year research opportunities, financial barriers to applying, etc.), and was written with input from several current MD-PhD program directors. The FAQ document also includes additional sources and resources with regard to choosing and applying to MD/DO-PhD programs. The sessions themselves were recorded, and can be found here




Please reach out to (APSA President Elect), (Initiative Leader and Organizer) and (Diversity Ad Hoc Committee Chair)