Research Opportunities

In the video above, Haylie Reed discusses her experience with the Summer Research Program.


The Summer Research Program at USA provides research experiences for medical students prior to the freshman year of medical school and during the summer between the freshman and sophomore years. This summer fifty-seven medical students, including eleven incoming first-year medical students, participated in the program, which provided stipends to participants and culminated with a Medical Student Research Day.

The program also serves as a foundation for medical students who are interested in gaining additional research experience during the subsequent years of medical school. These students are eligible to participate in the M.D. with Research Honors Program.  Participants in the program have cited numerous benefits gained through their involvement.

Macy Vickers (class of 2021) became involved with an HPV vaccine project through the Summer Research Program. Through this work she identified areas in Alabama in need of intervention with regard to HPV vaccination. After the summer ended, she became interested in ways to practically increase HPV vaccination rates. The MD with Research Honors Program offered her a structured way to continue her work throughout medical school. She is currently working on a pilot study focusing on offering the HPV vaccine in a rural community pharmacy in one of the most medically underserved counties in Alabama. She is excited to present her findings to the committee in the spring.

Carmen Lopez (Class of 2017), now a fellow in Gastroenterology at Tulane University, had no intentions of pursuing a long term research project when she first entered medical school, but a summer research project changed all that.  After finding a project she truly enjoyed and deciding she wanted to "see it through," she discovered the M.D. with Research Honors.  She believes the program supplements the overall medical student experience, and will contribute greatly to how she practices medicine in the future, adding, "Without this opportunity I would not have been exposed to the process of how medical research occurs and how discoveries are made. It's been a fantastic experience, and I would strongly recommend others also pursue research honors."

Dr. Hayden Hundley (Class of 2015), now a fellow in Pain Medicine at UPMC, Pittsburgh, wholeheartedly recommends the program to "all students regardless of future medical specialty or research aspirations. Even a project outside of your specific area of interest will broaden your horizons and teach you critical planning, analytical, and communication skills that will enhance a career in any specialty of the medical field."

The M.D. with Research Honors Program is open to all students in good academic standing who wish to arrange and devote additional time before graduation to their specific research project. With guidance from their mentor, students submit a research proposal and ultimately prepare a publication-ready manuscript on their completed project. Students who satisfactorily complete the requirements will be designated as graduates with "Research Honors" on their diploma.