STAR Program

The Student Training in Approaches to Research (STAR) Program is an eight-week, research education program. Participants are fully engaged in research with the guidance of a research mentor of their choice.  Most students who enter the STAR program elect to continue their research involvement through the Research Honors program. Participation in the STAR program is a prerequisite to enrollment in Research Honors Program (see Research Honors Program description).

STAR participants may be funded as STAR Scholars through a competitive award system described in the following text or may participate in the STAR program without funding if they are not selected. Some students arrange other sources of funding such as from their mentor or through application to national societies or other organizations that support summer medical student research.

STAR Program
STAR Scholar
(Competitively Funded)
  Participates without STAR Scholar funding

Who is Eligible for STAR Program Participation
Eligible first year medical students, who will complete their first year of medical school the summer after they matriculated may apply.

Who is Not Eligible for STAR Program Participation
Students participating in the ISI program are not eligible, due to the conflicting demands of these two programs. There may be a suitable ISI trip that does not conflict with STAR. Check with University Ministry.

Who is Eligible for STAR Scholar Funding
STAR scholars whose projects are selected through a competitive review receive a stipend of $4136.00 for the eight week program.  Funding is restricted to students with research mentors at Loyola/Hines. Each research mentor is limited to two (2) STAR students. 

The STAR Program is foutunate to have two NIH-funded T35 Institutional Training Grants to support medical student research through the STAR program. Learn more.

Students seeking funding as a STAR Scholar should e-mail a letter of intent to Gail Hecht, MD, MS, Asst. Dean for Medical Student Research, Stritch School of Medicine, at (with a copy to Maria Pelc at no later than 5PM CST December 7, 2018. The applications for the STAR program are due by 5PM CST on January 7, 2019. Individuals that are selected for a scholarship will be notified by mid-to-late February, 2019. Please note that you may participate in the STAR program whether you received funding or not.

Timeline for 2019 Program
The 2019 STAR program will begin on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 and ends on July 19, 2019.

Program Requirements (do not apply if you cannot meet all requirements)
Successful completion of the STAR Program requires:

  1. Attendance at all eight STAR Seminars.
  2. Full-time engagement in research for the 8 weeks of the STAR Program.
  3. STAR participants must present their work at St. Albert’s Day, the campus-wide celebration of research, held each fall.

STAR Program Seminars
STAR Program participants are required to attend all 8 weekly STAR Seminar Series. Dates and times for the 2019 STAR Seminars will be made available shortly. The seminars are typically held on Wednesday mornings from 8:30-10:30 a.m. from the end of May to mid-July.

Planning Your STAR Application
It is important to plan STAR participation early. The following planning steps may be helpful:

  1. It is strongly recommended that potential applicants attend at least one STAR informational session during your first semester. These sessions will be announced and posted in the LUMEN weekly calendar.
  2. Visit the list of research mentors. Funding is restricted to research mentors at Loyola. A list of experienced research mentors who are willing to participate in the STAR program is available but is not limited to those listed.

Explore research opportunities with research mentors (those listed, as well as others who may be of interest to you). Do not be shy. Simply set up an appointment to meet with that research mentor. Typically this is done by e-mail or by calling their assistant. Explain that you want to discuss the STAR Summer Research Program. Do not feel obligated to sign up with the first mentor you meet. Find a good match. The mentor and student should work together to form the research project, but the student is responsible for writing the STAR application.

Things to discuss as you select a STAR research mentor include:

  • Expectations:What can I expect to take away from this research experience?
    • An understanding of scientific method/approach
    • Knowledge of specific experimental techniques and/or methods of collecting clinical data
    • Knowledge regarding methods of data entry and basic statistical analysis
    • An understanding of how to interpret and possibly apply experimental results
    • Experience in preparing abstracts, poster presentations and/or manuscripts
  • Team Science: Will I be working with them either directly or indirectly? Who else works in your lab or clinical area?
  • Flexibility: What is your level of flexibility with regard to time spent? (days off, time away, routine hours expected)
  • Opportunities: Upon completion of a days laboratory work, are other learning opportunities available?
  1. Download and print the STAR application before the end of November.
  2. Plan to finalize your selection of research mentor before you leave for the winter holiday.
  3. December 7, 2018:  Submit a letter of intent to commit (no later than 5PM CST).  This letter of intent must be signed by you and your mentor.
  4. Finalize your STAR application no later that the first week of January.
  5. January 7, 2019 (no later than 5PM CST):  Submit your application by email to Dr. Gail Hecht, Asst.  Dean for Medical Student Research, Stritch School of Medicine ( with a copy to Maria Pelc (
  6. For more information, contact Maria Pelc ( or Dr. Gail Hecht (, Asst. Dean for Medical Student Research, Stritch School of Medicine.

Sample Applications

Application Review Criteria
A STAR Review Committee will assist in the review the applications. STAR applications are judged by scientific merit and the quality of the educational opportunity for the student. There is no preference for a particular type of research (basic vs. clinical). However, clinical retrospective chart reviews are often poorly prepared and applicants are encouraged to consider prospective studies whenever possible.  The application should clearly demonstrate the student’s research role and activities, as well as what can realistically be accomplished during the eight weeks.

STAR Equivalents
Students who are engaged in full-time research education programs outside Loyola may qualify as STAR-equivalent students, thus qualifying them to apply for the Research Honors Program.  The STAR-equivalent designation requires a full description of the program for pre-approval by Dr. Hecht as well as a letter of verification from the research mentor that clarifies that the student had met the STAR-equivalent criteria above. STAR equivalent students are not eligible to apply for the STAR scholarship award.

What to Do If I Don’t Get Funded
Because of the competitive nature of summer research programs, students are advised to consider submitting STAR applications as well as applications for other research education programs outside Loyola. A listing of these other programs is available in the Student Affairs Office. Please be aware that you may participate in the STAR program whether you are funded or not.

Frequently Asked Questions