Three decades of enrichment: MCW medical student summer research program earns federal funding

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a five-year, $860,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to fund 24 fellowships annually for medical students participating in its Medical Student Summer Research Program. The program offers first year medical students the opportunity to spend the summer in a research environment working on biomedical, clinical or translational research, mentored by MCW investigators.

David R. Harder, PhD, Kohler Co. Professor in Cardiovascular Research and professor of physiology, medicine and pediatrics at MCW and director of the summer research program, is the recipient of the grant. 

The Medical Student Summer Research Program has received continuous NIH funding for the past 35 years and has served as the model for acquiring training and education grants from National Institute on Aging and National Institute for Digestive, Diabetes and Kidney Diseases to fund 15 additional positions. With the added support of MCW’s departments and research centers, the program funds approximately 120 medical students yearly (about 59% of the class) to participate in this unique learning opportunity.

“Through this program, our medical students gain valuable experience in the lab working on cutting-edge biomedical research that will give them an edge in clinical practice. It also enriches their learning experience, and helps them develop mentoring relationships with faculty members at MCW,” said Dr. Harder. “Many will discover a love for medical research in the process, and decide to pursue careers as physician-researchers.”

Participating students each create a scientific poster representative of their research at the conclusion of the program, which is displayed at MCW’s research day in October. About a dozen posters are selected to be honored as Dr. Michael J. Dunn Poster Contest award winners, and many of those students have gone on to present their posters at medical symposia and summits.

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