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Topics: Clinical & Translational Research, Diversity & Inclusion, Education & Training, Mentoring

A Harvard Medical School Summer

Medical students from across the U.S. virtually participate in our annual summer c/t research internship program.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting with 2021 VRIP program students and Dr. Cristina Aguayo-Mazzucato.
VRIP 2021 summer interns with mentor Cristina Aguayo-Mazzucato, MD, PhD, of Joslin Diabetes Center.

This summer, students will fire up their computers and learn from Harvard Medical School (HMS) researchers as part of our Visiting Research Internship Program (VRIP). This annual program, offered by our Diversity Inclusion program, gives medical school students from across the U.S. the opportunity to participate in a summer of clinical and translational (c/t) research in Harvard Medical School labs.

Last summer, this traditionally in-person program embarked on a new virtual format. This summer’s format will be similar, utilizing video conference and virtual meetings for the students to create a virtual lab environment and interact with their mentors.

The program works to expose underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students to a range of clinical research disciplines, and ultimately, enhance diversity in the workforce.

A mentored internship for first- and second-year medical students, VRIP is designed to foster interest in health-related careers, particularly in c/t research. The program works to expose underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students to a range of clinical research disciplines, and ultimately, enhance diversity in the workforce.

Ease of access this year has led to more students participating, an increase to 12 from last year’s six. Students have been matched with mentors and laboratories at HMS, affiliated hospitals, and partner institutions. Data analysis, survey studies, and other research students can conduct outside the lab will form the basis of their projects.

Mentors play a fundamental role in shaping the summer experience. A diversity of expertise and specialties are drawn from their respective schools and academic healthcare centers, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, McLean Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Although they will be based at home, the students will have many opportunities to engage and learn through a series of virtual events, including weekly socials and seminars with guest speakers. They will also take part in a community engagement training with Bekka Lee, ScD, director of our Community Engagement program. Additionally, a panel on career paths and diversity inclusion will feature VRIP alumni and HMS faculty from underrepresented groups. Other events include speed networking with the Boston Children’s Hospital division of endocrinology, which is an opportunity for students to meet faculty in breakout rooms. Finally, students will present their research at the annual closing ceremony which will take place on July 29. 

VRIP 2021 Interns:

Hana Abdirahman
University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine

Alero Arueyingho
Meharry Medical College

Briana Cortez
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Irasema Fonseca Gonzalez
A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona

Symone Jordan
University of Louisville School of Medicine

Ruby Lopez-Flores
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Ariana Mora
Emory School of Medicine

Ugoji Nwanaji-Enwerem
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Elizabeth Saxe
University of Washington School of Dental Medicine

Brea Willey
University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine

Jasmin Williams
University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Evan Woodard
Morehouse School of Medicine

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