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 any allopathic or osteopathic medical student in good standing, who will have successfully completed one year of medical school at a U.S. institution, 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. 

Applicants must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States, or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., in possession of a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551, or some other legal verification of such status.) Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.  Due to NIA restrictions, individuals holding PhD, MD, DVM, or equivalent doctoral degrees in the health sciences are not eligible to apply to do the MSTAR Program.

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 2020.  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 7 weeks from 6/15/2020 to 7/31/2020. 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 2019, the stipend was $4136, although this may change because of cost of living adjustments in 2020. 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

The application deadline is March 2, 2020. 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 below and check MENTOR AVAILABILITY prior to contacting the mentors.  If a mentor is not listed who you’d like to work with, please reach out to Elaine Chow or Sei Lee. 
  2. UCLA Application - Since we are a satellite program of the UCLA MSTAR training site, please email the UCLA MSTAR program to obtain the application form.
  3. Notifications of Acceptance - Rolling acceptances will be announced starting on January 17, 2020.

Contact Information

Elaine Chow
Education Programs Specialist
[email protected]


Download Files
Detailed MSTAR instructions and Mentor List

Uploaded 2/4/2020