Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions from Penn medical students and their corresponding answers.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Email your questions to Amy Nothelfer, Associate Director, Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs.
Can I apply to more than one funding opportunity?
Yes. You can apply to as many opportunities as you'd like. In fact, it may be wise to apply to a second opportunity (if possible) as a back-up. However, please keep in mind that you may not receive acceptances at the same time, thus forcing you to make a decision without knowing the outcome of your other applications.
If I receive two or more awards, can I accept them all?
It depends. You will need to check with each funding source to find out if they have restrictions on other funding. In some cases, a funding source requires that they are the only funding for the project. In others, it requires that they are the major funding for the project.
Do I need prior research experience to be eligible for funding opportunities?
No. Many of the funding opportunities are meant to provide a student with exposure to research and/or a particular field of research, so prior research experience is not typically required. However, you will need to check with each funding source to make sure.
What if I don't see funding that matches my project?
First, be sure to look at the specific guidelines of a sponsor's award (not just the summary), as many have broad specifications for project topics. Then, try an alternative search engine such as one listed on Applying for Program/Funding. While you are searching for a match, don't hesitate to contact Amy Nothelfer for further assistance.
Do I need to contact the Registrar if I will be doing research?
Yes, the Registrar's Office asks that you complete an Arranged Activity form for any elective research that you conduct. Also, for those considering a year-out, it is advised that you discuss the timing with the Helene Weinberg (Registrar). Early planning is essential to ensure that you are able to coordinate a project, secure a mentor, and confirm that your timeline does not interfere with your responsibilities at Penn.
Do I need to contact Penn Research Services?
Yes. If you apply for external funding, your application will need to go through Penn Research Services for approval before submission. Your mentor's business administrator will assist you with entering your application into the PennERA system. Note that if you apply for a fellowship that requires an "Official Signing for the Institution," Penn Research Services will provide the signature through the PennERA submission process. Plan ahead though: this is a one week process. Penn Research Services needs your application at least one week before the application deadline. For more information on the policy, visit: Sponsored Projects Policies (in particular, policy # 2101 and 2102).
Do I need to contact the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs staff before applying?
It helps us a great deal to know what your plans are for short-term and year-out research. Even if you are just considering this as an option, please let us know in an email to Amy Nothelfer. If you do apply for funding, we'd appreciate your sending a copy of your application to Amy.
How do I find a mentor?
When you have narrowed your interests down to one or more broad areas, you can seek advice on things to keep in mind when choosing a mentor, and also ask for suggestions on which labs would be a fit. For more information, check out the "Finding a Mentor" section on Starting the Process.
Can a Perelman medical student do research offsite?
Yes, there are opportunities for doing research through institutions other than Penn. Going offsite can limit your funding options. Early planning is essential to ensure that you are able to coordinate a project, secure a mentor, and confirm that your timeline does not interfere with your responsibilities at Penn.
Are there opportunities for global health research?
Yes. The Center for Global Health provides information on global health research opportunities. Interested students should contact Megan Doherty, Director of The Center for Global Health.
Will I receive credit for the Scholarly Pursuit requirement by doing short-term or year-out research?
Yes, if conducted after completing Module 4 and receiving approval for the proposed project (see the Scholarly Pursuit Guidelines). However you should be aware that some funding agencies, such as the NIH, will not fund projects that are completed to fulfill degree requirements. Rather, they will fund elective research.
Can I be funded for my Scholarly Pursuit?
Possibly. Some mentors may have funding available and some fellowships may be appropriate. Many funding agencies, such as the NIH, will not fund projects which fulfill degree requirements. Rather, they will fund elective research projects. To be sure, always check the guidelines for application and, if it is not specifically mentioned, contact the funding agency directly.
If I take a year out to conduct research, are there any considerations I should keep in mind?
Yes. Please refer to the information provided in the Year Out Planning Guide.