School of Medicine and Medical Center

At any one time, more than 500 active research programs are underway in the School of Medicine, either on the Davis campus, or at the Medical Center in Sacramento. The projects range from fundamental laboratory research, to patient-focused clinical trials of investigational new drugs and devices, to studies of health care policy, finance and delivery systems. The research is dispersed among all the disciplines and specialties represented by the School's departments, their respective divisions and a growing number of cross-departmental programs and centers.

The general campus

The Davis campus has a wide range of basic research in medically-relevant disciplines because of the co-location of the medical school with the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Division of Biological Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and the College of Engineering's Department of Biomedical Engineering. A number of major research programs at UC Davis involve collaborating scientists from multiple parts of the campus. These include the Cancer Center, the Center for Neuroscience, the M.I.N.D. Institute, the Center for Comparative Medicine, the Center for Tissue Regeneration and Repair, the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, the Telehealth Center, and the California Regional Primate Center. Other major programs exist in human genetics, genomics, pharmacogenomics and membrane biology.

Opportunities for medical student research experience at UC Davis

If you are interested in gaining first-hand experience in research as a medical student, your first step should be to find a faculty mentor. One of the best ways to select a potential mentor is to identify several faculty whose research activities match your own areas of interest. Contact the faculty to discuss your interests and to learn if they can sponsor your proposed project or supervise your participation in one of their ongoing projects.

Resources include:

  • Lina Ibarra, Career Advising Coordinator, is available to counsel and direct students to research opportunities. Her contact information is:
    Place: Medical Education Building, Suite 3206
    Phone: 916-734-4111
    A listing of research opportunities by department and mentor is available at
  • School of Medicine Office of Sponsored Programs provides a downloadable PDF document listing research opportunities at UC Davis by department, PI and research title. Download the School of Medicine grants list (pdf).
  • The Community of Science (COS) is a proprietary database of worldwide scientific expertise. You can use it to search for any UC Davis faculty (including those outside the SOM) who have posted profiles. You can find links to the COS from Because COS is only available to member organizations, you will need to access it from an internet account with a "" domain. To access information on major multi-disciplinary research centers at UC Davis and departments of the School of Medicine, go to

Financial support for medical student research

Besides guiding and encouraging you in research, a knowledgeable mentor can also help you explore options for funding your project. Mentors who have active grant or contract funding may be able to support your supplies and equipment if your research goals closely fit the goals of their own programs. This may be particularly feasible for shorter term projects, such as those under eight weeks in duration. A number of additional funding vehicles are available that are particularly encouraged for students interested in more rigorous research training involving significantly greater commitments of time. Some options are:

  • Medical Student Research Fellowship: This program is primarily intended to support rigorous research training involving commitments from 4 weeks of full-time research to one year. Competitive awards are granted annually and are based on the merit of the proposed studies, the potential of the student, and the research record of the mentor. Applications are available online. The maximum support that may be requested is $22,000 per year. For more information, contact Dr. Saul Schaefer, who chairs the faculty Medical Student Research Committee, at 530-752-0718 or, or Lina Ibarra at, 916-734-4111
  • The T-32 Pre-Doctoral Clinical Research Training Program provides clinical and translational research training for one year.
  • The Morton Levitt Research Fellowship Awards: First, second and third year medical students may apply for $1,000 research awards under this program administered by the School of Medicine Faculty Senate. Calls for applications are sent out in November and are due in February for funding beginning in July. For more information, contact Lina Ibarra at 916-734-4111 or
  • Departmental or Specialty-Focused Support Funds: A few School of Medicine departments make internal funds available for medical student research in their laboratories. In addition, a number of external medical societies and specialty-specific professional organizations have student grants programs for projects relevant to each society's fields of interest. Inquire about current availabilities through your mentor, Career Advising Office 916-734-1848, or specific department of interest.
  • Outside Fellowships: Major national research organizations, such as the NIH and the Howard Hughes Foundation, offer a variety of competitive fellowship programs throughout the year. The Howard Hughes Medical Fellowship and the HHMI/NIH Research Scholars Program (Cloister) are outstanding opportunities to do funded research at the NIH or other institutions.
  • Travel Awards: Presentation and attendance at scientific meetings is encouraged and supported by the Travel Award Program. Support up to $500 per meeting for expenses is available.
  • The Western Student Medical Research Forum, held in Carmel, CA January 28-31, 2009, is an excellent meeting. Abstracts are due October 3, 2008.
  • The Western regional meeting of the AAMC’s Group on Educational Affairs (WGEA) and Group on Student Affairs (WGSA) is hosted annually by one of the 21 member institutions in the Western US and Canada.  UC Davis will sponsor the conference next spring. The location is convenient for UC Davis faculty and students - Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, near Monterey. The WGEA / WGSA meeting is informative, fun, intimate and stimulating. We expect about 150 folks from a variety of backgrounds and medical schools, and we are hoping for a strong showing from UC Davis faculty and students. This is a great opportunity to learn from others, and to network with educators from other schools. There are opportunities for papers, posters, panels, and small group discussions. The Dean’s Office is prepared to help fund attendance by up to five UC Davis medical students. An application form will be required, and the submission deadline will be in the Fall (we will announce the date soon). This is a great setting for medical students to share their research and innovative projects in the domain of medical education. The meeting has a friendly atmosphere with good mentoring – an excellent way to get experience presenting your educational scholarship.