Penn Medicine MD-PhD

Guide to Research and Fellowship Opportunities for Perelman Medical Students

Guide to Research and Fellowship Opportunities
Printable Version [PDF, 64k] PDF icon

If you are a first year student and have not already read the Guide for First Years Interested in Summer Research, you may want to start there before reading this.


Perelman medical students have several opportunities and mechanisms for participating in research. The most frequent scenarios are:

Summer Research:
Medical students typically choose to do research between the first and second year of Medical School, though this does not count as credit toward graduation. Many fellowships exist for this type of research - check out the Short Term Research Opportunities webpage. Planning ahead is always advised; these programs can be very competitive.

Scholarly Pursuit:
Medical students, not enrolled in the Combined Degree program, will engage in some form of research for a minimum of three months to fulfill their Scholarly Pursuit requirement in Module 5.  Some students will choose to do a full year of research.

Year Out Research:
Medical students who have completed their third year of Medical School may opt to take a Year Out to conduct elective research.  Many fellowships exist for this type of research - check out the Year Out Research Opportunities webpage. Planning ahead is always advised; these programs can be very competitive.

MD/plus Masters Degree:
Medical students may choose to pursue a Master's degree in the same or near the same amount of time that one would acquire an MD degree.  Most often students stay at Penn for their additional degree.  Information on the options available at Penn, including application information and procedures can be viewed online at:

Those who would like to commit to a substantial training period and who are committed to a research career can apply for the MD/PhD program. For more information, visit:


Participation in research for academic credit must be approved by the Associate Dean of the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs and processed through the Office of the Registrar.  It is important to note that a medical student who chooses to do research above and beyond the Scholarly Pursuit requirement is considered to be doing elective research. 


Extensive research programs are underway in every department of the Medical School and in every major scientific discipline. There are a variety of websites that provide a good starting place to explore available options:

  1. The Biomedical Graduate Studies homepage ( has links to the Graduate Groups in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Cell and Molecular Biology, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Genomics and Computational Biology, Immunology, Neuroscience, Parasitology and Pharmacological Sciences. Within each program's site is a listing of faculty research.  
  2. Penn Centers and Institutes at Some of the individual Centers and Institutes maintain lists of faculty research.  
  3. Departments in the Perelman School of Medicine - see the index of these at Some departments list faculty research in their sites.


The Combined Degree and Physician Scholars Office maintains a list of fellowships available to support medical student research on their website. The list is divided into year long opportunities, and short term opportunities.

Keep in mind when using this site:
Current information is listed on the website when available, however, many programs do not disseminate new information until early Fall.  Interested students are encouraged to contact the funding agency directly for more information later in the fall.

Each of these categories includes fellowships which are reviewed at Penn and those that are externally reviewed.  Penn Reviewed indicates that applications will go through an internal review process prior to being submitted to the funding institution.  Read the program summary carefully to determine where your application should be sent.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Combined Degree Office. 

Although summary information is provided below, it is essential that students who do apply for funding carefully review the guidelines provided by the program itself in order to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria and are fully aware of all requirements.  

Note that if you apply for a fellowship that requires an "Official Signing for the Institution," your application will need to go through Penn Research Services. Plan ahead: this is a two week process, and you will need the help of your mentor's Business Administrator or this office. 

In addition to the funding sources listed, some mentors may also have funding available through their laboratory resources.

If you apply for external funding:
  1. Please provide the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Program Office with a copy of your completed application. If you have questions or have difficulty contacting a funding organization directly please contact the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office.
  2. If you are awarded a research grant you will need to notify the Registrar's Office of your plans by completing and submitting an Arranged Activity form

Other resources that you may want to try include:


A searchable, continuously updated, database of funding opportunities in biomedical research and science education.

SPIN Plus (you must have a valid PennKey to access)

An up-to-date listing of funding opportunities from national and international governmental and private funding sources.
To access with Penn Key:

  1. Under the left hand column look for Penn Era
  2. Select Funding Opportunities
  3. Select 'SPIN' and you will be prompted to login with you Penn Key and password

NIH Funding

Research Training Opportunities offered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).