Undergraduate Translational Research Immersion Program

group photo of translational research internship program

The undergraduate Translational Research Immersion Program (TRIP) provides students at participating institutions experiential learning opportunities in the field of clinical and translational research (CTR). Partnering institutions include Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Howard University, Florida A&M University, Franklin & Marshall College, Lincoln University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Swarthmore College, University of Pennsylvania, University of Puerto Rico, and Xavier University of Louisiana. The program is sponsored by the NIH Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) and ITMAT.

This program includes a 10-week summer research experience with the potential for extended year-round research opportunities that can occur remotely or in person. The 10-week summer research experience starts May 24, 2022 and ends July 29, 2022. The program provides on-campus housing and a stipend of $4,800.

In addition, students will have access to:

  • A year-round virtual Translational Research Seminar Series
  • Dual mentorship opportunities
  • Community building activities with predoctoral and postdoctoral students at Penn

The additional components of this program will create an opportunity for undergraduates to engage in CTR beyond the 10 weeks and throughout their remaining undergraduate years.

The application for Summer 2022 is due Friday, February 4th. 

Translational research refers to the attainment and transfer of new knowledge from the bench to the clinic — and from the clinic to the bench. For example, basic scientists collaborate with clinicians to create new tools for the diagnosis and treatment of patients and for assessment of impact. Translational research is viewed as a medium for discoveries to be translated into practical diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Overview

This 10-week summer research experience includes substantial mentorship in clinical and translational approaches to understanding a disease and developing effective therapeutic modalities. The mentored summer research experience includes a didactic curriculum with research seminars, professional skills development workshops, student presentations, career panels, and social engagements. Students receive one-one-on advising from their mentor(s) and ITMAT Ed Leadership. Students are expected to work 40 hours per week in their mentors' research lab and participate in the entire program experience.

Research Mentors

After acceptance into the program, students meet with their proposed research mentor to identify a good fit. Students are assigned research projects based on their area of interest. The research projects take many forms, with an emphasis on, for example, molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics, or clinical interventions. The project may or may not involve work at the bench; however, it is usually linked to an established project and requires close interactions with personnel within the mentor's lab.

Curriculum

Each week the students dedicate several hours to participating in TRIP curriculum that highlights methodologies in translational research, professional skills development workshops, career panels, student presentations where they share their research in progress, and social engagement. Students are encouraged to attend admissions info sessions offered by Penn graduate education programs. The 10-week summer research experience culminates with a final symposium which involves each student presenting their project in terms of hypothesis, data collection, analysis, etc., and placement of the work within the larger context of CTS efforts. Their research mentors, members of their lab, and faculty from their home institutions are encouraged to attend their final presentation.

In 2020, TRIP was highlighted in Penn Today for successfully transitioning to a virtual environment during the pandemic. Read more here.

Requirements

  • Currently attend a partnering institution
  • Completed one year of college; preference will be given to students finishing sophomore or junior years
  • Demonstrate an interest and potential to pursue a career in the clinical or translational sciences
  • Commit to attending and participating in the immersion experience
  • The program is open to U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents only

Application Instructions

 The Summer 2022 application is due Friday, February 4th.

Online Internship Application

  • The  program applications are found under “Perelman School of Medicine Masters Programs”
  • Select: “ITMAT Translational Research Immersion Program (TRIP)”
  • Select “Summer 2022” term

Materials required for a completed application include:

  • Application form which includes
    • Resume
    • Unofficial copy of transcript
    • Statement of personal interests and goals - see below
    • Two letters of recommendation using the template below- see below

Statement of personal interests and goals

We'd like to know more about you and why you’re applying to this program. Please answer the following three questions in your personal statement. The personal statement should not exceed 1 page.

  1. Your reason(s) for doing the program, with specifics about what you hope to study. If you have a specific mentor you wish to be paired with indicate here. 
  2. An explanation of your long-term goals, how the program fits into them, and why the program will be helpful to you
  3. A discussion about how your academic coursework, research, and other relevant activities make you a good fit for this program

Letters of recommendation

Two individuals familiar with your academic capabilities and potential for work in a biomedical setting should complete the letter of recommendation template and upload the letter to the application system. You will have the ability to send the link within the system. Please send a link to the recommender with enough time for them to submit their recommendation before the deadline. If you want, you can log in and send them the link before you submit your application.

Acceptance into the Program

The application will close Friday, February 4, 2022. Applications will be evaluated by ITMAT Ed Leadership in consultation with the relevant undergraduate institution. Applicants will be notified by early March regarding the selection committee's decision.

We anticipate 1-2 interns per institution for Summer 2022.

Application Process

  • I am interested in applying for TRIP, but I do not attend a partner institution.
    • Applicants must be from a partner institution to apply to the program.
  • Is there an online application for TRIP?
  • I recently graduated, am I eligible to apply?
    • Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at a partnering institution.
  • I am an international student, am I eligible to apply?
    • The program is open to US Citizens and Permanent Residents only. We cannot accept applications from international students who do not meet residency requirements at this time.
  • I do not currently have a research mentor; will this be a problem for my application?
    • Not a problem. In your application, you can indicate your areas of interest. If there are research mentors, you’re interested in working with at Penn you can also indicate them here.
  • Do the letters of recommendation need to come from a professor?
    • The recommender should be able to speak to your academic abilities and potential for work in a biomedical setting. Recommenders have included high school teachers, undergraduate professors, part-time job supervisors, summer internship research mentors.
  • How many letters of recommendation do we need?
    • Two letters of recommendation are required. Recommenders are welcome to write a formal 1-page letter or use the letter of recommendation template provided on the website.
  • When do applicants receive decisions by the program?
    • Applicants will be notified in March of each year regarding the selection committee’s decision.

Residential Housing Information

  • Is housing provided?
    • All summer participants will be provided on campus residential housing.
  • Are we expected to share a dorm room with other participants?
    • Almost all participants will have a single room with shared living space. However, it is important to note it is dependent on availability each year.
  • Are the dorms furnished?
    • The dorms are furnished with an extra-long twin bed, a dresser, a desk, and a desk chair. The living area (if applicable) in your units will include a sofa, table, and chairs. You’d be responsible for bringing your own linens.
  • Do the dorms have kitchens?
    • It is likely you’ll be assigned to a unit with a kitchen however it is not guaranteed. Kitchens a full-size refrigerator, stove, oven, and sink. Kitchens do not come with a microwave, pots and pans, or cutlery.
  • Are their laundry rooms located in the residence halls?
    • There are free laundry rooms on select even numbered floors.
  • Is Wi-Fi available in the residence halls?
    • Wi-Fi is available for all participants staying in the residence halls. You’ll receive more information in your welcome letter and upon check-in.
  • Is there a checklist for items to bring to the dorm?
    • We recommend you bring your own bed sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels as these are not provided. In addition, you should bring toiletries and cleaning products.
  • Do I need to take public transportation to get from the dorms to campus/lab?
    • The dorms are located on campus so you can easily walk.
  • When is move-in / move-out?
    • Typically, students can move in 1-2 days before the program begins. For move-out, students can move-out the day the program ends or the next morning. Timing for both will be provided in the welcome letter by Hospitality Services.
  • Is it possible to move-in earlier than scheduled and/or stay beyond the 10 weeks?
    • Unfortunately, it is unlikely to move in earlier and/or stay later. We recommend asking Hospitality Services if there are rooms available.
  • Can I store my belongings on campus until we’re able to move in?
    • Students are welcome to look into storage options but we are unable to store belongings.
  • Are meal plans provided?
    • No, meal plans are not provided by the program. However, you are welcome to purchase a meal plan at your own expense through Hospitality Services.

Onboarding Process

  • How many hours are we expected to work each week?
    • Students are expected to engage in a full-time program, 40 hours per week. This would include receiving substantial mentorship and attending all programmatic elements.
  • How do I receive my stipend?
    • Students should have received a message from the ITMAT Business Office asking you to create a Penn Supplier account to receive the funds. If you did not, please contact us and we’ll connect you with someone in the business office.
  • I’m interested in learning more about the stipends. When do we receive our stipends?
    • Stipends are being paid as a prize/award, which are subject to 30% federal withholding on the payment. Stipends are distributed at the end of June and end of July (payment is split in half). Students enrolled in the program will receive a 1099-MISC form (since it’s more than $600). We recommend you put money aside for the taxes.
  • How are students matched to mentors?
    • Students enrolled in the program will have an opportunity to describe their research interests and potential mentors with the Program Director. Lab placements are determined with consideration from the mentor and student’s interests.
  • Do program participants have access to Student Health Services?
    • Students can be seen for basic services which would be fee for services. SHS does not take outside insurance plans, which can be problematic. We recommend looking into an urgent care center in University City that takes your insurance.

 

Sarah Weinshel, 2020 Undergrad from Swarthmore College

About me

I am a currently a senior Honors Biology major and Art History minor at Swarthmore College. I am broadly interested in research in cellular and molecular biology related to human health. After graduation, I am planning on doing research for a few years before pursuing a MD/PhD degree, with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician scientist leading a research laboratory. Outside of my research experience in the TRIP, I've conducted plant molecular genetics research at Swarthmore since my freshman year. 

Experience with the internship:

In the TRIP, I researched the connection between cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and progression to cognitive impairment in Parkinson's Disease, specifically looking at whether biomarker cutoffs in Alzheimer's Disease applied in Parkinson's Disease. The series of talks in the internship was especially formative in shaping my current desire to pursue both medicine and research as I learned about different careers in translational research. As I hadn't had a lot of previous exposure to medical and translational research, I appreciated hearing from physicians, researchers, and more in the internship.

Experience with the lab:

I had a wonderful experience working with my mentor, Dr. Sharon X. Xie, during the internship. We met basically daily over zoom and I was able to learn about the holistic process of biostatistics research from her, from conceptualization of an experiment to writing a paper. I also worked with Dr. Xie during the school year following my internship to finalize a manuscript on the research which is currently under review for publication.  

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For general questions related to the program, please contact:

Carsten Skarke, MD, Director of the ITMAT Undergraduate Program

Jessica German, MSEd, Associate Director of ITMAT Education