Undergraduate and Medical School Research Education Programs at the Webb-Waring Center
The Webb-Waring Center has always eagerly embraced education as key part of our mission. The opportunity to recruit, inspire, and train students who are at all levels in their evolving educations and who are aspiring to careers in medicine and biomedical research is one of our most fulfilling, meaningful, and impactful activities.
Webb-Waring/Colorado Undergraduate Summer Research Program or the CUSP Program
Our premier education program is CUSP. CUSP was created and is directed by John E Repine, MD. Now, in its six consecutive year, CUSP is flourishing and becoming a nationally prominent biomedical research training program for diversity and non-diversity undergraduates.
More than 110 undergraduate diversity and non-diversity students from 24 universities nationwide applied for the 15 available 2017 summer CUSP slots. For the 2017 CUSP Program, the applicant pool included approximately 20 undergraduates each from the targeted Universities of Notre Dame, Princeton, Yale, and Williams along with multiple undergraduates from Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, Colorado and other Universities.
CUSP applicants are highly qualified “whiz-kids” who are characteristically High School Valedictorians, National Merit Scholars, QuestBridge Scholars, accomplished musicians, creative writers, and/or competitive athletes. Quite a few of the applicants have perfect SAT or ACT tests. While most of the CUSP applicants are oriented toward and considering careers in medicine, most have not had any significant experience conducting research and/or are not yet dedicated to pursuing careers in biomedical research.
Our major philosophy is to show CUSP interns how conducting research can be a valuable way to learn medicine.
CUSP interns meet every morning for 10 weeks from 9:00AM to 10:30AM in interactive sessions with a diverse group of faculty, students, and administrators primarily from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The objective is to introduce CUSP interns to highly successful and prospering faculty who are involved in exciting research careers. These faculty member, many who are physician-scientists, enthusiastically tell the interns about how their careers evolved as well as describing their specific research. They respond to wide ranging questions by the interns. CUSP interns also meet the Deans for Admissions for medical school, graduate, and MD/PhD (MSTP) Programs who provide information about applying to these schools. CUSP interns also meet with students who are in the beginning phases of their training in MD, PhD and combined MD/PhD Programs (MSTP Programs) and learn from their perspective and expectations. CUSP also provides interactive tours of key medical school facilities including tours of the Visible Human Project, Emergency Department, NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit, and the Radiology Teaching Center. The value of participating in research as a vehicle to enhance learning medicine is also advanced by teaching interns about the practice of medicine by discussing actual clinical cases that are used to introduce our first year medical students to clinical medicine.
Every afternoon, CUSP interns conduct original “hands-on” biomedical research with a highly selected mentor on the faculty of the University of Colorado. CUSP mentors have participated in our program for many years and are very effective in helping interns develop a meaningful hypothesis and rationale and complete a project during the summer. Most of the CUSP mentors are conducting inflammation and immunologic related research—a unifying feature that helps interns learn not only from their own but also the projects of other interns. Background reading materials are provided to each intern before they arrive in Colorado to enable them to more rapidly appreciate some of the concepts that are presented in the morning sessions and in their laboratory research. At the end of the summer, CUSP interns present a formal scientific poster at our closing ceremony that is attended by faculty, staff, and students from different campus departments.
CUSP is evaluated independently during and after each summer by Drs. Gretchen Guiton and Jennifer Gong. These two faculty members are experts in evaluating educational objectives and achievements and the Directors of the Medical School Education Evaluation Department. Their confidential reports every year indicate that the CUSP interns are extremely happy. Interns often indicate that CUSP is “career and even life changing”. After CUSP, some interns change their majors; some interns change their career plans from MD to MD/PhD programs. Many CUSP interns continue in research after going back to school and as they advance in their educations. In addition, CUSP interns are being accepted to competitive medical, graduate, and MSTP school programs nationwide. CUSP interns also report that their participation in CUSP strengthened their applications and facilitated their interviews and acceptance for advanced training.
CUSP is supported by a recently renewed 5 year National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) R25 undergraduate diversity training grant which supports 8 diversity students and has Dr. Repine as its Principal Investigator, endowments that Mr. Brian Fitzgerald generously established at Princeton University and Williams College, the School of Medicine, the Departments of Medicine and Neurosurgery, the North Foundation and individual donors. CUSP partners with the Colorado Leaders in Mentors and Business (CLIMB) Program that attracts undergraduate students from many universities nationwide to Colorado for summer internships. Depending on need, CUSP interns receive appreciable stipends, cost-free housing, and/or travel support. Because of the success of CUSP, the University of Colorado development office has assigned staff to increase funding for CUSP.
CUSP applicants usually have never been to Colorado before. They stay in quad dormitory rooms on the downtown University of Colorado Denver and enjoy the many summer activities including biking, hiking, climbing, and rafting available in the summer in Colorado. CUSP and the University of Colorado also hosts a variety of group social events. At the end of the summer, CUSP interns as a group hike one of Colorado’s 14teeners.
CUSP interns are increasingly returning to Colorado for advanced training. For example, three of last summer’s CUSP interns have been accepted and will be medical students at the University of Colorado next fall. This group includes one African-American intern from New York and the University of Notre Dame who had never been to Colorado previously but who now will attend medical school here with a prestigious full-ride Presidential scholarship.
CUSP accepts applications (a resume and short letter indicating your interest) from undergraduate students nationwide. Applications should be emailed beginning in November to John.Repine@comcast.net. Interns are accepted on a rolling basis.
Colorado Undergraduate Research in Environmental Health Sciences Program or the CUREHS Program.
The CUREHS Program provides a year round but intense 10-week summer research opportunity for 6 undergraduate diversity students from Colorado Colleges. CUREHS is directed by Jared Brown, PhD of the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy. CUREHS interns receive stipend supported from a 5 year R25 summer undergraduate diversity research training grant from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The three Principal Investigators of this grant are Jared Brown, PhD, David Schwartz, MD of the Department of Medicine, and John E. Repine, MD of the Webb-Waring Center and the Department of Medicine. CUREHS interns attend the morning sessions, conduct research in Colorado laboratories, and present posters at the end of the summer just like CUSP interns.
If you are interested in this program, please email your resume and a letter indicating your interest to Jared.Brown@ucdenver.edu.
Department of Medicine Research and Equity in Academic Medicine Program or the DREAM Program
The Webb-Waring Center is also the home for the DREAM Program. The DREAM Program was created four years ago by David Schwartz, MD, the Chairman of the Department of Medicine, and Robert Winn, MD, a former faculty member in the Department of Medicine. For the past three summers, the DREAM Program has been directed by Dr. Repine. With generous funding from the Department of Medicine, the DREAM Program provides a competitive stipend that enables 10-12 Colorado first year diversity medical students to conduct original research during the summer between the first and second years of medical school. DREAM students find and create hypothesis-based research projects with a faculty member of their choice. DREAM students interact with CUSP and CUREHS students during the summer and also prepare and present a formal poster of their research at a joint closing ceremony. The DREAM Program provides medical students with the opportunity to conduct research. DREAM students report that the experience provides them with important perspectives about conducting biomedical research and biomedical research careers at a formative time in their medical training. DREAM students also report that participating in the DREAM Program improves their application for residency.
The short application for the DREAM Program can be found here and should be submitted beginning in January by email to John.Repine@ucdenver.edu. If requested, Dr. Repine will also help interested students find projects and/or mentors.