MSTAR

About the Program

The MSTAR program at UCSF is a summer research practicum in San Francisco, CA, designed to immerse first year medical students in aging research.

Who is it for?

The MSTAR program is designed to provide students with a practical, hands-on experience working on a research project under the guidance of an experienced aging researcher as a mentor.  Students will also receive a brief introduction to Geriatric medicine through a didactic series and clinical experiences.  The ideal MSTAR applicant is a first year medical student who is interested in aging research and has found an aging research mentor at UCSF. 

Research Mentorship

Students will work with one research mentor during the program.  The student and the researcher are responsible for determining a project that is appropriate for the student’s level of expertise and feasible during the student’s time in the program.  Most students meet with their mentor (or their mentor’s designee) once each week.  Students should expect to spend approximately 75% of their effort on research activities.

Research Seminar


Students will attend the weekly UCSF Division of Geriatrics Works in Progress seminar.  This is an opportunity to see how researchers think about refining and improving a wide variety of research projects, as well as getting feedback to improve their own research projects. 

Guest Speaker Series

UCSF Faculty volunteer to give 30 minute didactics on topics in geriatrics and aging and participate in 30 minute meet-the-professor sessions with the students.  These lectures allow students to learn about current topics in aging and geriatrics research, and learn about the careers of current researchers.  In the past, students have spent 15% of their effort on didactics and the research seminar.

Clinical Experiences

Students will participate in six ½ day clinical observations experiences at the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center, or approximately 10% of their effort.  These rotations may include services such as the Outpatient Geriatrics clinics, the inpatient Geriatric Consult Service, the Home Based Primary Care Service, the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit, the VA Nursing Home and others. Typically, 1-2 students will be assigned to follow a clinician performing their usual care duties. 

Presentations and Publication Opportunities

All students will prepare presentations about their summer research for a symposium attended by UCSF faculty.  Mentors and other researchers will provide feedback and support to help students prepare for these presentations. The presentation format is designed to prepare students to submit abstracts to the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting in May 2018.  Submission of abstracts is highly encouraged, but not required.  Some students in past cohorts have been co-authors on papers later published.  It is up to the student and the research mentor to determine if this is an appropriate and realistic goal of the summer research.

Logistical Considerations

The MSTAR program is a full-time research program. Students are required to participate in the MSTAR program for 8-12 weeks.  The start and end dates of the program are flexible to account for variation in medical school schedules, but all students must be present for 6 weeks from 6/11/2018 to 7/27/2018.

Most program activities are at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.  The SFVAMC is easily accessible by public transportation and parking can be found in surrounding streets.

The MSTAR program provides a stipend.  In 2017, the stipend was $3896, although this may change because of cost of living adjustments in 2018.Please note that the stipend check is scheduled to arrive in late June/Early July, regardless of your start date; please plan your finances accordingly.

The UCSF MSTAR program does not provide housing or assistance with finding housing for the summer.

Application Process

Applications are due by January 26, 2018. Early applications may increase your chances of finding a faculty mentor. 

1) Finding a Mentor

We ask that applicants establish a relationship with mentors before submitting an application.  Students who already work with a mentor at UCSF on aging related research may continue working with their mentor.  MSTAR students may work with any UCSF faculty who do aging related research, but we suggest starting with these faculty who are familiar with the MSTAR program: See MSTAR Mentor List.

2) American Federation for Aging Research / NTC Application – MSTAR application forms and additional information about the national program can be completed here.
Please email completed NTC application to the UCLA MSTAR program. (We are a satellite program of the UCLA MSTAR training site)

3) UCSF MSTAR Survey – Students applying to the UCSF MSTAR site must complete an additional application form here.

4) Notifications of Acceptance

Acceptances will be announced in early March 2018.

Contact Us

Sean Lang-Brown
Assistant to MSTAR Site Director Sei J. Lee, MD MAS
Sean.Lang-Brown@ucsf.edu