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Christina Huang, a fourth-year medical student, shares her experience investigating pancreatic cancer in Dr. Marc Mendonca's radiobiology lab.

Strengthen your MD and advance research: Apply to MedSTAR

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Interested in academic medicine and improving treatments for patients? The Medical Student Training Applied to Research (MedSTAR) program offers a funded opportunity for students to dive into biomedical investigations. This one-year fellowship accepts up to four students each year from IU School of Medicine and is an ideal way to boost lab, basic and translational research experience.

Christina Huang, a fourth-year medical student, shared her experience in the MedSTAR program. Huang had the opportunity to participate in research aimed at more effectively treating pancreatic cancer in an internationally renowned lab.

Can you share what research you were immersed in through the MedSTAR program?

In the MedSTAR program, I had the opportunity to work in Dr. Marc Mendonca’s radiobiology lab investigating Di-methyl-amino-parthenolide and dichloroacetate’s ability to sensitize human pancreatic cancer cells to ionizing radiation.

How did this program strengthen your training?

This program allowed me to do basic science research, which often can take more time than clinical research. In addition, I was able to take classes in clinical trial design, grant writing, biostatistics, and patient safety and quality improvement. Through these classes, I was able to gain skills and knowledge that will benefit me greatly in conducting future research projects and in a career in academic medicine.

What advice would you give to students who are considering whether or not to apply?

This program is a phenomenal opportunity to dedicate time to conducting high quality research in the specialty of your interest. I would advise reaching out to current or past MedSTAR students to discuss whether or not this program is the right fit for you!

How did this experience affect your future plans and career goals?

Being able to do both basic science and clinical research during my time in the MedSTAR program allowed me to mentor multiple medical and undergraduate students who worked on projects with me. I have learned that I love to teach, and my experience has strengthened my desire to go into academic medicine.

What role did your mentor play, and how did you identify your mentor?

My mentor played an instrumental role in helping me develop my skills in research. He was always readily available to meet and to talk about my projects. He encouraged me to take ownership of my projects and also to actively mentor the students that rotated through the lab. When I decided to apply to the MedSTAR program, I knew that my mentor had mentored several students in the past and was very approachable when I asked about the possibility of working in his lab as part of the program.


The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Susanna Scott

Communication Specialist

Susanna focuses on communication for Medical Student Education, Faculty and Staff. She is also working toward her doctorate in health communication at IUPUI.