Distinction in Research

The Distinction in Research track is designed as an enrichment program for a select groups of medical students. The role of clinician as researcher and the methods of basic and translational research will be taught throughout the DIR track. The format will include equipping the students with commonly used tools for research and hands-on mentored research experience.


The Distinction in Research initiative (DIR) is an educational track, the goal of which is to provide a small group of medical students with meaningful and productive research experiences that will enrich their medical school training.


The DIR experience will be longitudinal and will include contact with mentors and research groups, development of research-oriented skills, and the completion of a research project in the third/fourth years.

Student Outcomes

Students will be required to complete a “Scholarship in Research” product. This product may be:

  • Author or co-author a paper that is submitted for publication
  • Presentation at national/regional meeting
  • Author a review or research paper for mentor evaluation that uses the format of a manuscript that might  be submitted for publication

Criteria for Selection

Students must complete a mentored research experience during the summer between first and second years. This program lasts 10 weeks and typically involves participating in the SRSP/CEP programs at UofL.

Application Process

Application for the DIR program will occur in late July-August. Acceptance is based on satisfactory completion of SRSP or a similar program.


M1 Year

The DIR, Summer Research Scholars Program (SRSP), and the Cancer Education Program (CEP) programs will be introduced to the freshmen medical students in early January. Applications for the SRSP and CEP will be taken in the month of January.

M2 Year

Students will attend approximately 6 noon (50 minute) sessions which will introduce aspects of clinical research.  By the end of the fall semester, Second year students must select a mentor and submit a completed "mentor" form, which is signed by both the student and mentor.  The HSC Research Office will provide lists of possible mentors for students who are not planning to continue with their SRSP mentor and also provide one-on-one advice to students who need assistance connecting with a mentor. As mentors are identified, students must attend lab meetings with the mentor when scheduling allows and stay up to date on lab progress including abstracts and publications. Students also must maintain logs of time spent in the lab.

Noon sessions:

  1. Intro/Selecting a mentor and project
  2. Human studies, IRB, Patient consent
  3. Scientific design and methods
  4. Scientific writing
  5. Scientific presentations
  6. Library research tools

M3 Year

Students attend approximately 5-6 late afternoon DIR sessions. Each session will have 5-6 student presentations. Students will present their hypothesis, research plans, and progress reports.  The rest of the DIR class and any attending mentors will provide feedback. Attendance is required unless Dr. Clark is notified ahead of time.  Students must also keep a log of their research activities/contact with mentor.

M4 Year

The curriculum includes 4+ weeks of registered selective time for research. This research may be completed in the third or fourth year of medical school and it counts toward 14 week elective requirement).

The “Distinction in Research” selective will provide students a block of time to conduct hypothesis driven research as partial fulfillment of the Distinction in Research Track.  The time will be spent under the supervision of their individual DIR mentors and will conclude with a “product” which can be presented in one of several avenues for the dissemination of research.

Faculty and Mentors