Penn Medicine MD-PhD

Applying for Programs/Funding


Now that you've gathered information, you may decide to apply for a research program or funding opportunity. Here are some resources to help you through the process:


1) The Combined Degree and Physician Scholars Office maintains a list of fellowships available to support medical student research. The list is divided into:

- Short Term Research Opportunities:
Penn medical students typically choose to do research between the first and second year of Medical School, though this does not count as credit toward graduation. In addition, medical students, who are not enrolled in a Combined Degree program or Year Out research experience, will engage in some form of research for a minimum of three months to fulfill their Scholarly Pursuit requirement in Module 5. Many fellowships exist for these types of research - check out the Short Term Opportunities webpage.

- Year Out Research Opportunities:
Medical students who have completed their third year of Medical School may opt to take a Year Out to conduct elective research.  Many fellowships exist for this type of research - check out the Year Out Opportunities webpage.

2) Ask potential mentors if they are aware of relevant fellowships. Remember that if you apply for a fellowship, you may not receive the award. It's a good idea to have a backup plan.

3) Another option is to ask your potential mentor if he or she would have funding for you. Some mentors are able to provide stipend support from their research grants. In other cases, the mentor's department might have funding to support you.

4) Check for other funding opportunities on the web:

- There may be new funding opportunities offered by relevant organizations, which haven't made it to the Short Term Opportunities or Year Out Opportunities webpages. If you find a new opportunity, please email Amy Nothelfer at, so she can add it to the website for the following year.

- Science Careers - Grants & Funding website
Now that GrantsNet has been retired, the Science Careers staff has compiled a list of other places you can search for information on funding programs. Unfortunately, most of them require a subscription for access.

- SPIN Plus (you must have a valid PennKey to access)
An up-to-date listing of funding opportunities from national and international governmental and private funding sources.

To access SPIN with your PennKey:

  1. Go to: PennERA Funding Opportunities - SPIN
  2. At the top of the left hand column, click on "Logon to PennERA"
  3. You will be prompted to login with your PennKey and password
  4. At the top of the window, click on "Find Funding" - this will take you to the SPIN website.

- NIH Funding
Research Training Opportunities offered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Participation in research for academic credit (e.g. Scholarly Pursuit requirement) must be processed through the Office of the Registrar and receive faculty approval.  It is important to note that a medical student who chooses to do research above and beyond the Scholarly Pursuit requirement is considered to be doing elective research. 


Curriculum Vitae: During the process, you should be prepared to provide a CV to the individuals writing letters for you. A well written CV will be helpful to your referees, and useful for you at multiple times in your training and career. You may also need to submit a CV as part of the application itself. If specific formatting instructions are provided, follow them carefully. Here are some resources to help you develop your CV:

- PSOM Student Portal on the "Student Affairs" tab ( under "Residency Application and Matching" see:

1) Writing a Curriculum Vitae
2) Barb's Tips for CV Writing
3) Sample CVs (on AAMC website). Dr. Skip Brass reviewed Sample #5 and thinks it’s generally a good format (with the exception of listing a Step 1 score- he would NOT recommend that you include that on your CV; and the “personal data” section is not as commonly used on these; in terms of non-academic items, though, sometimes a hobbies/outside interests section is added).

- Penn Career Services - CV Guide (
- Penn Career Services - Template for CV in Sciences/Engineering (
- NIH guide with category heading option

Transcript: If you need a copy of your medical school transcript for your application, contact Yvonne Young in the Registrar's Office, who will be able to assist you.

Dean's Letter: Some year out research opportunities require a Dean's letter. Your Advisory Dean will write the letter for you. You may want to consider scheduling a meeting with your Advisory Dean to discuss your interests, so your Advisory Dean can write a personalized letter to strengthen your application.


1) Registrar
If you apply for external funding and are awarded a research grant, you will need to notify the Registrar's office of your plans by completing and submitting the Arranged Activity form. This documentation is needed in order for your research experience to be a part of your academic record and on your transcript.

2) Penn Research Services
If you apply for external funding, your application will need to go through Penn Research Services for approval before submission. Your mentor's business administrator will assist you with entering your application into the PennERA system. Note that if you apply for a fellowship that requires an "Official Signing for the Institution," Penn Research Services will provide the signature through the PennERA submission process. Plan ahead though: this is a one week process. Penn Research Services needs your application at least one week before the application deadline. For more information on the policy, visit: Sponsored Projects Policies (in particular, policy # 2102 and 2102).

3) Combined Degree Office
Please provide Amy Nothelfer, Associate Director, Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Program, with a copy of your completed application. If you have questions or have difficulty contacting a funding organization directly, please feel free to contact Amy for help.


Advisory Dean: another resource you have for advice and guidance is your Advisory Dean. For fellowships that require a Dean's Letter, your Advisory Dean will write the letter for you. For all other fellowships, your Advisory Dean is an option for a recommendation letter.

Frequently Asked Questions: visit our FAQ webpage to get answers to several frequently asked questions.

Student Advice: many of our students, who have conducted prior short term and year out research projects, have ideas and advice that they'd like to share with interested students. Visit our Student Advice webpage to learn more.

Year Out Planning Guide: a list of some things to think about if you are considering taking a year out from medical school.