With continuous NIH funding since 1980, the Short Term Research Training Program (STRTP) at the University of California, and San Diego (UCSD) offers medical students intense exposure to sophisticated biomedical research during the summer after their first year in medical school. The purpose of the program is to increase the trainee's understanding of biomedical research and its role in both science and medicine and to recruit strong candidates into investigative careers as physician-scientists. UCSD medical students are prepared for advanced research as exhibited by their exceptional academic credentials from reputable undergraduate institutions. Trainees are selected on the scientific merit, clarity, and feasibility of their research proposals and on the support and productivity of their chosen preceptors. Although students may choose any UCSD faculty member as a preceptor, preference is given to those who select Program Faculty, who are recruited to participate each year by the Executive Committee. Perhaps UCSD's greatest strength is the richness of its research faculty. Program Faculty include leaders in the fields of cellular and molecular biology, immunology, genetics, epidemiology, bioengineering and biophysics, physiology, pharmacology, and neuroscience. In addition to full-time UCSD faculty, students may choose to work with select scientists who have UCSD appointments and work at neighboring organizations such as the Scripps Research Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Burnham Institute, which offer additional opportunities. Because of the students'preclinical orientation, most choose laboratory research in the basic sciences. After the research period is complete, the students summarize their research in writing, participate in a poster presentation to share their projects with faculty and students, and are evaluated by their preceptors and members of the Executive Committee. In addition, a portion of the trainees attend a research conference or submit their work to School of Medicine award competitions. Over half of the students who participate in the Short Term Research Training Program publish or present their work in a national forum, continue research during their remaining years in medical school or pursue additional research for at least one year. Well integrated into the UCSD educational landscape, other training programs at UCSD have joined or modified their offerings after the STRTP, also a testament to the program's success and the regard in which it is held.
UC San Diego has a strong track record as a leader in translational research, with an emphasis on the full continuum leading from laboratory discovery to the delivery of new treatments and technologies that benefit society at large, often in partnership with science and industry colleagues in the private sector. In this environment, STRTG projects that discover new information, translate that information into treatments for patients and test whether new treatments are beneficial will be solicited and supported, in addition to studies of populations that answer questions important to public health. This experience hopes to attract students to continue to do research as part of their medical careers, to generate new knowledge that will improve public health, and to provide future physicians the skills necessary to understand science and better apply it to caring for patients.
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