Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (MSTP SURF)

University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA.
Type Basic Science Research, Clinical Research


The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is a multidisciplinary program in medicine and biomedical research.  Its mission is to provide students with the breadth and depth of training necessary to excel as academic physicians. The curriculum combines classroom and clinical training in the UCSD School of Medicine  with research in a Graduate Department.

Flexibility is a hallmark of the UCSD MSTP, and each student’s program is individualized.  By its nature, medical school education is quite broad, encompassing subjects from biochemistry to cultural anthropology. In contrast, graduate education provides a narrower focus and greater depth, both in terms of exposure to current thinking in a specific discipline and in the development and execution of a doctoral thesis problem. Since 1974, continuous funding by the National Institutes of Health has enabled the training of physician-scientists who, because of their multi-faceted and rigorous education, are equipped biomedical investigators.  The Program culminates with the award of both medical (MD) and graduate (PhD) degrees, signifying skills in each of the three domains of an academic physician: research, teaching, and clinical care.

Diverse Training for a Diverse Student Population

Trainees enter the UCSD MSTP with a diverse range of academic backgrounds and life experiences.  Currently there are 75 students.  The Program is committed to recruiting a diverse student body.  Out-of-state applicants are considered on an equal basis as in-state residents.  Approximately 8-10 entering students join the Program each year, including underrepresented minorites, disabled, and economically disadvantaged trainess. All trainees receive full support for stipend, tuition, and health insurance during all years of the Program. Students generally complete both MD and PhD degrees in about eight years.  Multiple career paths are available to graduates, but 90 percent will obtain further training in one of the specialty areas of medicine.  Our graduates uniformly achieve their first or second choice residency.  Over the last 12 years, approximately 90 percent of graduates have subsequently accepted positions in academic health centers.

A Rich Research Environment

UCSD, located in La Jolla, California, is a campus of unusual strength in the biological sciences.  The UCSD School of Medicine, the contiguous UCSD general campus, and adjacent research institutions (the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute, the Burnham Institute) are all readily accessible to interested students. Clinical training and research opportunities are available in many different hospitals including UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center, Veterans Administration, Rady Children’s, Naval Medical Center, Scripps Green Hospital, and Scripps Mercy Hospital. The San Diego area is home to one of the largest biotech industries in the world.  San Diego is a particularly fertile location for the Medical Scientist Training Program because of these extensive resources in  basic science, clinical and translational research, and medical practice.



1. Citizenship / Immigration Status: Students appointed to this program must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., in possession of a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551 or some other legal verification of such status). Non-citizen nationals are generally persons born in possessions of the United States (i.e., American Samoaand Swains Island). Individuals on temporary or student visas and individuals holding PhD, MD, DVM or equivalent doctoral degrees in the health sciences are not eligible.

2. Undergraduate students must: (1) have successfully completed at least one undergraduate year at an accredited school or university (including baccalaureate schools of nursing); or (2) be attending community or junior colleges provided they are enrolled in at least three courses per academic term and have completed at least six courses.


1. Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see NIH Guidelines). In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting, and individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be convincingly demonstrated to be underrepresented are eligible for support under this program. Please note: We are happy to accept all applications, however, gender alone is unlikely to qualify an applicant.

2. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

3. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who are defined as:

a. Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size; published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels. For individuals from low income backgrounds, candidates must be able to demonstrate that they have qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance or they have received any of the following student loans: Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL), Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program, or they have received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need.

b. Come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.

More Information

SURF MSTP, 9500 Gilman Drive – MC 0606
La Jolla, CA 92093-0606
Phone: 1-800-925-8704 or 858-822-5631
Fax: 858-534-8556