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 Requirements

 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.

Joseph Barile, 2019 Undergrad from Swarthmore College

About me: 

I’m a junior at Swarthmore College majoring in neuroscience and minoring in philosophy. My interest in neuroscience developed early on at Swarthmore: I enjoyed learning about human behavior in psychology class but also found myself attracted to the objective analysis of biology and chemistry. Eventually, I realized my interests were converging on neuroscience and decided to major in the subject. Outside of academics, I plan on the men’s varsity soccer team, work as a campus tour guide in the Admissions Office and a teacher’s assistant for biology classes and edit the sports section of the newspaper. I plan on attending medical school a year after graduation and have an early interest in clinical practice, but I have not yet committed to any career path within the field of medicine.

Experience with the internship: 

Some of the best parts of my week during the internship were spent at the weekly seminars hosted by the directors of the program. I was able to talk to my fellow interns, both from Swarthmore and other colleges in the Pennsylvania area. It was a pleasure to interact with students who had interests in both the clinical and translational side of medicine, just as I do. Additionally, the opportunity to interact with top researchers across Penn during the internship seminars is unrivaled. Instead of being a face in the crowd, I was one of 12 students who were able to ask questions about the research and career paths of the best physician-scientists. 

Experience with the lab:

Although I had immensely enjoyed neuroscience classes at Swarthmore, I had not yet had the opportunity to learn about the subject in a research setting before my summer at Penn. My experience with the lab was excellent. I learned how to talk about neuroscience through a research lens, observed some fascinating work involving neuromodulation, and met some great people. I also found it valuable to experience the translational side of medicine. While doctors who practice clinically tend to receive praise, and deservedly so, some of the largest contributions to the medical field have been made by scientists. Watching physician-scientists attempt to find new treatments for neurological disorders in Dr. Roy Hamilton’s lab was an inspiring and enlightening experience. 


Gwendolyn Glatz, 2020 Undergrad from Swarthmore College

About me:

My name is Gwendolyn Glatz and I’m from Exeter, Pennsylvania. I am a senior at Swarthmore College and I’m majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in English. I am very interested in pursuing a career in medicine and am currently applying to medical school. At the moment, I am hoping to go into oncology or pediatrics, but it’s still very early and I am going in open minded!

Experience with the internship:

I had an incredible experience during TRIP. It was so beneficial and educational, and gave me connections with fellow students as well as professionals in translational medicine. The program was full of talks and workshops that helped us develop our own research skills, and also gave us opportunities to present our work throughout so we could work on interpreting and communicating our results. We also had the chance to hear about the career paths of all of our successful presenters, and it was enlightening to know that not all of them had glorious paths, but that all of them had the perseverance and drive to continue to pursue their goals.

Experience with the lab: 

The mentor match process was spot on. I was matched with Dr. Louisa Pyle, MD, PhD, a pediatric geneticist at CHOP. My project under her mentorship was an analysis of a patient’s genome to identify the cause of the patient’s androgenous/ambiguous genitalia. We honed in on the duplication of the ZFPM2 gene, which is currently labeled a copy number variant of unknown significance. I was given paired end reads of 12 clonal cell lines. I ran FastQC’s on them before using Kallisto and RStudio to run gene mapping analyses and other tests. Dr. Pyle was there to help every step of the way, constantly available on Slack, meeting with me one-on-one once a week, and holding a lab group meeting once a week. She is such a down to earth person and an incredible teacher, full of knowledge and ready to pass it on to young eager scientists. The program as a whole helped me realize that medicine was the right choice for me as a career path. I would like to give a personal shoutout to Jessica German and Dr. Carsten Skarke for all of their hard work. This program wouldn’t be possible without their dedication!!!


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.  

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

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