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Program for Research Initiated by Students and Mentors (PRISM) for UM Medical Students

Program Summary

The Program for Research Initiated by Students and Mentors (PRISM) provides supervised full-time research experiences for University of Maryland medical students. The purpose of the program is: 1) to encourage students to consider the possibility of careers that include biomedical or clinical research and/or academic medicine; and 2) to provide students with a realistic understanding of the medical research environment.

See below for Program Details.

Supported by: The University of Maryland School of Medicine/Office of Student Research

Administered by: The University of Maryland School of Medicine/Office of Student Research

Program Director:
Gregory B. Carey, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Director of Student Research and Community Outreach, OSR
Director, PRISM Program for Medical Students
Director, UM Scholars Program

Program Manager:
Qi Cao, J.D.
Research Coordinator

Contact Information

Qi Cao, J.D.
Research Coordinator
Phone: (410) 706-3026

PRISM Program
Office of Student Research
University of Maryland School of Medicine
655 West Baltimore Street
Bressler Research Building (M-019)
Baltimore, MD 21201


Please use the Ask PRISM Form to submit your questions.

Program Details

  • Research Mentor
    University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty member. See Research Mentors section. Applicants will identify a research mentor and work with the mentor to develop a research project prior to applying.
  • Research Project
    Hypothesis-driven project in basic, translational, and clinical research in biomedical or health topics.
  • Location
    University of Maryland Baltimore campus. Research that takes place primarily away from campus is not eligible.
  • Time and Duration

Summer Research - 10 weeks of full time commitment
At least 40 hours per week in the summer after the end of spring semester and before the start of fall semester.
Standard 10-week research period begins on May 28 and ends on August 2, 2018. If permitted by research mentor, student may take days off and make up missed days prior to the fall semester, provided that attendance requirements for summer programming are satisfied.  Some students may need to begin one or two week earlier or end later to make up for missed time due to other commitments.

Summer Programming - May 28 to August 1, 2019.
See Program Activities for specific dates of required major events and general seminar schedule. More details are provided under the Program Requirements.

  • Selection
    Considerations will be made based on the quality of the proposed research, the strength of the research mentor, the strength of the applicant, and the quality and potential impact of the experience for the applicant.
  • Stipend
    Varying stipend levels based on merit, approximate range of $2,500 to $4,500.
    Mentor contributions are encouraged and do not exclude the student's participation. Supplement stipend funding from external fellowships or scholarship awards will be considered on a case-by-case basis. PRISM program funding will be adjusted based on all other stipend funding received by the applicant. Total stipends for the applicant cannot exceed the amount designated by the program.
    See Mentor Contribution toward Stipends section and External Stipend Award section for details and examples.
  • Number of Positions
    Approximately 30 to 40 positions based on available funding.
  • Program Activities
    Students are required to participate in the full range of summer research training activities sponsored by the Office of Student Research (OSR) of UM SOM, including research-related training, the three major events:
    1. Orientation (May 28 & May 29)
    2. Mid-Summer Research Retreat (June 27)
    3. Student Research Forum (August 1, date changed from previous)

and the Summer Seminar Series on biomedical research (weekly 1-hour seminars on both Tuesday and Thursday mornings). Students are also required to submit a final paper on their research after the end of the program. More details are provided under Program Requirements. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in Medical Student Research Day in the fall. High quality, PRISM-funded student research is often selected to be presented at national and international scientific meetings and have been recognized for prestigious awards.

Research Mentor

Any faculty member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) who holds at minimum an Assistant Professorship position and has suitable research support to mentor a medical student can be a PRISM research mentor. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with the Office of Student Research prior to and during the choice of a mentor. A listing of many faculty members and their research at the School of Medicine is available online via the UM SOM departmental websites and the Faculty Profiles website. Please also refer to the listing of faculty provided through the FRCT course and OSR that includes UMB faculty available to mentor students.

Program Requirements

Please see detailed information regarding Program Requirements.

Application Process

Letter of Intent Deadline: January 31, 2019, 11:59 p.m.
(Letter of Intent is strongly encouraged, not required)

Application Deadline: March 25, 2019, 11:59 p.m.


  • Please review the Program Requirements prior to applying.
  • Please see summary of the application process below and the required items for the application to the program.
  • See Additional Guidelines for more information and advice regarding the proposal/research plan.

Letter of Intent

Submit letter of intent (LOI) prior to submitting complete application packet. Please use the following online form to submit the LOI.

LOI should include the following (asked in the form):

  • Student name.
  • Mentor(s) name and department (and institution if not faculty at UM SOM).
  • Tentative project title or topic.
  • Whether human participants/data are involved (IRB protocol) or animal subjects are involved (IACUC protocol).
  • Whether the applicable IRB or IACUC protocol currently exists (approval dates current for the research period) or will be renewed through continuing review with minor modifications OR approval is pending for a new protocol or for modified protocol. (Indicate "unsure" if you do not know.)
  • Whether the VA medical center or VA patient data is involved.

Proposal Draft Review

If you wish to have your proposal draft reviewed by an OSR faculty advisor, you can use the following online form to submit your request.  Requests submitted after March 4 will be considered but not guarantteed for review, depending on the availability of reviwers, volume of requests, and date of request.

Application Materials Submission

  • By Email: All documents and forms, except the Recommendation Form, can be submitted by email to referencing "PRISM Application - StudentLastName, StudentFirstName" in the subject line.
  • By Portal: The PRISM 2019 Application Portal (Open Microsoft Teams) can be used to organize, manage, and submit application materials. You can access the portal by logging into Office 365 (same as accessing your email through a browser) and selecting the Teams app or following the link your received by email. 
  • Submission Form Links (see each section below or the submission portal for more information):

Application Packet

A complete application packet must include all of the following required documents (items 1-10).
For all PDF forms, please download the form onto your computer prior to completing the form.

Component A: Student Documents
(Items 1-3 are items that are easy to consider and can be completed months in advance by the applicant.)

  1. Application Form
  2. Student Biosketch CV
  3. Personal Statement. Expresses why the student wishes to pursue the program and how the program may benefit the student.

Component B: Reesarch Project
(Items 4-5 are items that involve research considerations and may need more time to develop or obtain.)

  1. Research Plan
  2. Applicable IRB or IACUC Documents
    • Choosing projects with existing IRB or IACUC approvals or projects that do not involve human participant/data or animal subjects is highly recommended.
    • For existing IRB or IACUC protocols, current approval letter is due by the application deadline.
    • If the protocol is new or in the process of being modified or renewed, proof of IRB or IACUC submission for the pending protocol is due by the application deadline, and the new approval letter is due by noon on April 26. The protocol should be submitted to IRB or IACUC for approval as early as possible. IRB or IACUC review process can take months.
    • If the protocol will expire in the summer after the start of the program, proof of IRB or IACUC submission for renewal is due by noon on April 26, and the new approval letter is due before the expiration date.
    • If required IRB or IACUC documentation is not received by the applicable deadline, the student will not be considered for the program or will be removed from the program.
    • Note on timing: As soon as you begin discussing projects with potential mentors, you should include IRB and IACUC as part of your discussion. Start your discussions early, especially for novel projects. Optimal time frame for solidifying your project, including addressing IRB and IACUC protocol concerns would be November to early January (protocol review submissions to IRB no later than early January). IRB submissions in the spring for new protocols are very unlikely to receive IRB approval in time for the program deadline.

Component C: Mentor Documents
(Items 6-7 are items the research mentor and any co-mentor need to submit.)

Mentor documents can be submitted through the following online form. If your mentor is submitting the documents by email, this form does not need to be used. 

The form can be submitted by your mentor directly (preferred) or by the mentor's assistant, lab manager, or research team coordinator on behalf of the mentor. The form will ask for your mentor's email address and your email address, both of whom will receive a confirmation email of the submission. This form also allows your mentor to submit the applicable IRB and IACUC documents and status along with mentor documents. 

If your mentor will be mentoring more than one student applicant, documents can be submitted in one entry (up to 4 students) or in separate entries one for each student applicant.

  1. Mentor Declaration Form
    • Mentor Declaration Form
    • This form should be submitted by the research mentor or co-mentor or can be submitted by the applicant if signed by the research mentor or co-mentor.
    • This form must be completed by each faculty mentor or co-mentor.
  2. Mentor Biosketch

Component D: Recommendations
(Item 8 include items recommenders need to submit.)

  1. Recommendation Form from Two Recommenders.
    • Recommendation Form
    • Request recommendations from at least two recommenders (two required recommendations, up to two additional optional recommendations)
      • Provide recommenders with the link to the online Recommendation Form.
      • Recommenders will be asked to follow the two step process: 1) register the entry and then 2) continue to the provided unique link to complete the entry (the unique link will allow the completion of the form in more than one sitting).  Registered entry will expire after 90 days if not submitted.
      • You will receive an automatic notification email after a recommender has submitted a recommendation for you. Please make sure your recommenders have your correct email address.
    • Recommenders should be faculty members or advisors, or past research mentors or supervisors.  Choose recommenders who know you well and could speak to your character, strengths, and abilities. Recommenders who have interacted with you within the past two years are preferred.
    • Recommendation from the research mentor (or co-mentor) for the proposed research project is welcome and encouraged but will not count toward the required two recommendations.

Component E: Academic Documents
(Items 9-10 are academic documents that can be obtained and submitted by the applicant that would complete the full application packet)

  1. Transcript for Medical School (unofficial transcript from SURFS or MedScope is sufficient)
  2. Dean's Letter of Good Academic Standing (requested from OSA)

Mentor Contribution Toward Stipend

In addition to mentoring students, faculty mentors are welcome to provide mentor contribution toward their student's stipend. The program greatly appreciates the generosity of faculty mentors who are able to provide funding for a portion of their student's PRISM stipend. Mentor contributions allow the program to extend the reach of its limited funding to a greater number of students. If a research mentor is willing to contribute toward the student's stipend, he or she would indicate the committed amount on the Mentor Declaration Form during application and provide the administrative contact to transfer mentor contribution funds to OSR to be distributed to the student. Student will receive stipend checks for the total stipend amount, including mentor contribution, from OSR.

Mentor contribution will not affect the total stipend amount the student will receive. The student's PRISM funding will be decreased by the amount of mentor contribution. The following is an example of how PRISM funding will be adjusted by mentor contribution.

  • An applicant is awarded PRISM stipend level of $2,500 based on the merit of the full application. The faculty mentor has agreed through the Mentor Declaration Form to contribute $1,000 toward the student's stipend. PRISM funding toward total stipends will be decreased by the $1,000 mentor contribution while the total stipend level remains at $2,500.

PRISM funding will be similarly adjusted by any external fellowships and scholarship awards. See External Stipend Awards section.

External Stipend Awards

Many PRISM applicants will have applied to external fellowship and scholarship funding opportunities in addition to PRISM application. Students are highly encouraged to accept the national fellowship and scholarship if awarded.

PRISM applicants must disclose to the program all stipend funding the applicant is awarded and those for which the applicant has applied and that are still pending. Concurrent acceptance of external funding award and PRISM award stipend will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Some external fellowship and scholarships will not permit concurrent acceptance of another funding award.

External funding will not affect the total stipend amount the student will receive. The student's PRISM funding will be decreased by the amount of the external funding. The following is an example of how PRISM funding will be adjusted by external funding

  • An applicant is awarded PRISM stipend level of $2,500 based on the merit of the full application. The student also received an external fellowship award of $1,000. PRISM funding toward total stipends will be decreased by the $1,000 fellowship award while the total stipend level remains at $2,500.

Final PRISM funding will be adjusted in light of any mentor contribution and any external stipend funding in order that the total stipends for the applicant does not exceed the amount designated by the program. See also Mentor Contribution Toward Stipends.