Research Scholars Students meeting

Research Scholars Pathway


The Research Scholars Pathway is a 4-year, elective program to recognize SIU medical students for their research efforts completed while in school. Qualified students will be recognized as SIU School of Medicine Research Scholars in both their residency applications (via ERAS) and the MSPE (Dean's letter).​

For two years, medical students Matt Mannion, Nic Revelt, Taylor Badger, Sam Mounce, Emma Johns, Bridget McClain and Hannah Roberts collaborated with faculty both at SIU and at outside institutions to find a model that works best for the curriculum.

Research Scholars Program
Research Scholars Program


SIU School of Medicine has long been committed to research that not only serves the community of central and southern Illinois, but also impacts patients around the world. Over the last 50 plus years, SIU School of Medicine has produced numerous physician scientists that have impacted healthcare and health education through basic, translational, and clinical research. 

The purpose of this pathway is to acknowledge the efforts of medical students who pursue research opportunities and make contributions to research at SIUSOM. The pathway will also provide consistent training in the ethical, legal and regulatory aspects of performing research, and create a venue to increase accessibility to research experiences for medical students.


A group of faculty associated with the Research Interest Group (RIG) will administer the curriculum on the Springfield campus. In Carbondale, Dr. Diana Sarko will guide the program, with input from faculty directors of the Mentored Professional Enrichment Experience (MPEE) and Clinical and Research Experience (CARE).

* Good academic standing is defined as no Student Progress Committee (SPC) activity, which means that the student has not, at any time received a: letter of concern, letter of warning or academic probation from the (SPC). 

Students will focus on adjusting to the challenges of medical school. Students interested in pursuing research can begin to formulate a plan.  Students should join the Research Interest Group during year 1. Research Scholars students must participate in hypothesis-based research during the summer between M1 and M2. The Clinical and Research Experience Program (CARE), Mentored Professional Enrichment Experience Program (MPEE), or an individually-designed and approved summer research project are all appropriate avenues to complete this requirement. Students must work with basic science faculty or clinical faculty to develop a project. Only those students in good academic standing* are eligible to participate.

Students must participate in hypothesis-based basic, translational, or clinical research. Students must participate in the Research Interest Group during year 2. Students should keep a log of the research hours approved by their research mentor(s). By the end of Y2, students must submit at least one abstract to a conference (oral or poster presentation) or co-author a journal article submission. At minimum, students should submit an abstract at the Annual SOM Trainee Research Symposia. Only those students in good academic standing* are eligible to continue in the program.  

In the third year, students should fully immerse in their clerkship experiences. The research requirement in this year remains the same as the second year.  Students must participate in the Research Interest Group during year 3. An abstract or manuscript submission is required. Students should keep a log of the research hours approved by their research mentor(s). The minimum expectation is that students present at the Annual SOM Trainee Research Symposium.  Ideally, the project should be submitted for presentation at a national scientific meeting and/or submitted for publication. Only those students in good academic standing* are eligible to participate.

In the fourth year, students are required to complete 6 weeks of research electives.  The dedicated time will enable final progress and potential publication of the project. Students must participate in the Research Interest Group during year 4.  Presentation at external scientific meeting(s) and publication in appropriate journals should be the goal.   Only those students in good academic standing* are eligible to participate.

Outline of successful completion

  • ​Completion of MPEE or CARE or another approved research project (outside institutional work is welcome but pre-approval is recommended)
  • Participation in the MPEE research symposium after M1 summer (only required for MPEE participants)

  • ​​Completion of required benchmarks including an abstract submitted to a local, regional, national conference or submitted to a journal.
  • ​​Participation in the SIUSOM Research symposium or the Teaching and Learning Symposium

  • Completion of required benchmarks including an abstract submitted to a regional or national conference or submitted to a journal
  • ​Participation in the SIUSOM Research symposium or the Teaching and Learning Symposium 

  • ​Completion of 6-week research elective. If research elective is registered on a student’s schedule by the ERAS due date, SIUSOM will articulate to residency programs that this student is on track to graduate as an SIUSOM Research Scholar.
  • ​Submission of abstract for regional/national symposium or SIUSOM Annual Teaching and Learning Symposium/Annual Trainee Research Symposium is required.  
  • Submission of project for publication is ideal

  • Students should attend Research Interest Group (RIG) meetings as a more formalized curriculum to supplement research work.  Students must attend 60% of the meetings throughout the 4 years of the curriculum. RIG meetings will allow students to meet NIH requirements for training in Responsible Conduct of Research.  Responsible Conduct of Research is defined as “the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles for all activities related to scientific research”.  Topics, as outlined in PHS guidelines will be covered at RIG meetings.  Alternatively, students can enroll in the Responsible Conduct of Research course (PHRM 540) offered by the Associate Dean for Research. The course is MANDATORY for trainees, fellows, participants, and scholars receiving support through any NIH training, career development awards (individual or institutional), research education grants, and dissertation research grants.  Topics to be included:  conflict of interest (personal, professional, and financial); policies regarding human subjects research and animal subjects in research; safe laboratory practices; mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships; collaborative research including industry collaborations; peer review process and confidentiality; data acquisition and laboratory tools; data management, sharing and ownership; research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct; responsible authorship and publication; the researcher as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.  
  • Students should have a faculty member serve as a research mentor. Students can change this mentor at any time and can be active in projects with other faculty as well.

Charting progress and approval of research endeavors

A faculty committee associated with the RSP will oversee student progress, including approval of mentored research outside of CARE and MPEE. Dr. Vidya Sundareshan and Dr. Andrea Braundmeier-Fleming will co-chair the committee.

Research Scholars Program

Graduation/ERAS following successful completion of program milestones

ERAS will state that student is an SIUSOM Research Scholar by virtue of completing the necessary scholarly work to earn the distinction.

The completion of the RSP will also be indicated in the Dean’s letter.


Need more information?

Yes. Your RSP mentor is a faculty member that should guide you through the RSP pathway. Ideally, you will want this person to be intimately familiar with your research project they don't need to be your research supervisor. Also, you will want to have a strong and trusting relationship with this faculty mentor to ensure that you meet the RSP pathway requirements. 

If you decide to change your RSP mentor, you need to identify a new mentor, notify either Dr. Sundareshan or Dr. Braundmeier-Fleming of the new mentor and then the new mentor will be sent the RSP mentor toolkit. All Mentors must formally acknowledge and accept that they are serving as the RSP mentor. 

No. You can have a research project mentor that is non-SIU faculty, but your RSP mentor must be a SIUSM faculty member. 

There should be no letters of concern/warning or academic probation from the SPC for that year for the student to be eligible to participate. 

Yes, you can complete the program, but you will need to identify a conference locally or regionally to present your work for review. 

The student must ensure that the mentor has completed the evaluation at the end of the year. 

Yes. We encourage you to stay involved irrespective of your ability to complete the RSP. 

To facilitate medical students across all departments at SIU School of Medicine (SOM) to present their research efforts at external scientific and/or clinical symposia, the office of Associate Dean for Research has established an Research Scholar Fund through SIU Foundation. These funds can be used for reimbursement to help offset travel expenses incurred by the student to attend the meeting. Learn more here

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Students in SIU Lab

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