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SIMR - Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program: 7 Reasons Why You Should Apply

Are you a high-school student with a passion for science, a desire to gain hands-on research experience, and a drive to excel in the field of medicine? If so, we recommend to you the Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR). At one of the top medical schools in the world, this program offers an unmatched opportunity for students like you to explore the frontiers of medical knowledge.

What is the Stanford Institute of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)?

The Stanford Institute of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) is a highly selective eight-week research program offered by the Stanford School of Medicine. The program is designed for high school students, who are passionate about research and the medical sciences.

The program offers students the opportunity to conduct novel research in a variety of areas such as neuroscience, cardiovascular biology, stem cell biology, cancer biology, immunology, bioengineering, bioinformatics, and genetics.

Students work in the laboratories of Stanford faculty members, where they are mentored by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other members of the research team to develop a research project to present at the end of the program and beyond!

In addition to conducting research, SIMR students participate in weekly seminars and workshops, attend career development and college application workshops, and participate in socials. SIMR seeks to provide its students not only with exposure to cutting-edge research, but mentorship and personal development.

Who is Eligible to Participate in the SIMR Program?

The SIMR Program is open to all junior and senior high school students, who are at least 16 years old and must be a US citizen or a permanent resident. The program seeks to make biomedical research accessible to all, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, or prior education.

However, it is extremely important to note that the program also seeks to increase biomedical research access to its local citizens – “Although any student is welcome to apply, SIMR will focus on creating opportunities for local Northern California students.”

The program also features a $40 application fee, which can be waived for students whose family income is less than $80,000 per year. The program also does not cover housing or meals, thus, for out-of-state applicants, this can be a major deterrent in applying and joining this program.

How prestigious is SIMR?

SIMR is very prestigious, selecting only 50 of the applicants, with an acceptance rate of less than 3% (approximately).

Timeline and structure of SIMR

The SIMR Program only consists of a written application that will open mid-December of the year prior to the program, and will close mid-February of the next year. This leaves you approximately 2 months to complete the full application, which consists of including basic information, a series of questions and essays to explain who you are, your passions, and interest in the program, a short questionnaire about ranking your preferences for placements into the program, and submitting one academic reference.

After acceptance into the program, you will have to participate in an orientation and training that will be held mid-June and then participate in the program in its lab work, workshops, and lectures for the totality of the eight weeks of the program. The program has a strict attendance policy, thus be sure you can participate for the full eight weeks with no other complications.

During the first two weeks of the program, there will be morning lectures that are held 2-3 times a week. The next couple of weeks of the program there will be a joint lecture once a week. For the rest of the program, you will be attending your lab/workshops for a standard 40-hour workweek. The program concludes with a poster session that is held on the last day. You will receive great mentorship on this postering and research throughout the entirety of the program.

Why should you participate in SIMR?

1. Acquire research experience with world-renowned researchers

SIMR provides you with a unique opportunity to gain hands-on research experience in a variety of fields in medicine and the biomedical sciences. This experience will be invaluable to anyone planning to pursue careers in these areas. You will also work in the laboratories of Stanford faculty members, who are leading experts in their fields. This provides students with the opportunity to learn from the best and work on cutting-edge research projects. While working under these faculty, you will work directly under a graduate student or a postdoc, who will be invested in your growth and provide constant guidance and support throughout your entire project.

2. Improve and build upon your scientific skills and knowledge

SIMR offers seminars and workshops on a variety of topics, including research methods, data analysis, and scientific communication. These activities are designed to enhance the scientific skills of students and provide them with a strong foundation for future research. Throughout the entire program, you will also be mentored by a graduate student or a postdoc that will directly work with you to improve your research ability, from experimental design to how to run PCR tests, flow cytometry, whatever it is you need to do!

3. Explore all different medical science fields

SIMR students can choose from a variety of research areas, including neuroscience, cancer biology, immunology, bioengineering, and genetics. This allows you to explore different fields and discover which area of medicine or science you are most interested in. With all of these options and interdisciplinary workshops, this program provides you with the opportunity to explore whichever aspects of medical sciences that you are interested in.

4. Building a strong network of mentors, professors, experts, and peers

SIMR provides an opportunity to meet and connect with other students who are passionate about science and medicine. This can help you build a network of like-minded individuals and make valuable connections for future careers.

You or your peers could end up at elite institutions, have your name on a published paper in Nature or Science, or end up as finalists and winners of internationally renowned competitions, such as the Intel Science Search or Regeneron. With socials and working side-by-side for eight weeks, you will develop a connection with the people around you, emotionally and career-wise.

On top of that, working alongside an accomplished PI in your lab, and your direct mentor, you will already begin to develop a strong professional network for your career and beyond. Alumni and expert speakers often come to speak and connect to the interns, including Nobel Laureates Brian Kobilka and Atul Butte!

5. Experience college life at an elite institution

SIMR is held on the Stanford campus, which provides an opportunity for you to experience college life and get a taste of what it's like to be a college student. From walking around Palo Alto, tours around campus, and enjoying life with your peers of similar interests, you can begin to experience the collegiate lifestyle.

6. Acquire a strong spike on your college application

Participation in SIMR is a highly selective process, and being accepted into the program can be a strong addition to a college application. You demonstrate yourself to be highly motivated and passionate about research even from a young age, which means that you stand out amongst your fellow college applicants. If the program goes superbly, you can even continue working with your lab after the program, and even get a very strong recommendation letter from an accomplished researcher.

7. Make a difference on a field that you are passionate about

SIMR research projects have the potential to make a difference in the world of medicine and the biomedical sciences. Being at such an elite research institution conducting research, you will have a significant impact on the field by conducting your own research and experiments in a medical science will transfer to a new advancement in the field, a new product, or just acquiring general knowledge for yourself to make an even greater difference in the future.

Participating in SIMR can provide such valuable skills and opportunity for yourself within this field, thus be sure to take advantage of all that you can. Past projects include designing new medical devices in the bioengineering bootcamp, printing cardiomyocytes, and studying neural networks for understanding how the brain thinks.

These are just a few of the many, many projects that have been completed, published, and that you could work on!

If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!

Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 

The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas. The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 

The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.

You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship.

In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 

Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!

Additionally, you can also work on independent research in AI, through Veritas AI's Fellowship Program!

Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. 

These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 

The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here

Location: Virtual


  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 

Conducting advanced research is another great way to build new skills, take charge and expose yourself to new perspectives. It can also boost your profile for scholarships and competitions! If you want an opportunity to build your own independent project and research paper, then consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program. Last year over 2100 students applied for about 500 spots in the program. You can find the application form here.

Aaron Zheng is a sophomore at Harvard University, studying Bioengineering. He is passionate about biotechnology, business development, and aiding students to get to college, regardless of background. In his spare time, he looks to read, journal, and explore the world.

Image source: SIMR logo


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