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 is longitudinal and includes 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

Beginning with class of 2027

Students will be required to complete a research paper on their original research. The paper should use the format of a manuscript that might be submitted for publication. The paper will be reviewed for approval by their mentor and track directors. The final paper will be submitted to ThinkIR, the university’s institutional repository for faculty, staff, and student research.  

Students are highly encouraged to present their work at local, regional, national, and international meetings or conferences, and to participate as co-authors on additional manuscripts. Students should submit their current curriculum vitae that lists their research presentations and publications as an appendix to their final research paper.  

Classes of 2024, 2025, & 2026

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

Application Process

Application for the DIR program will occur in late July-August.  Applicants are evaluated and the track directors choose a select group to be interviewed. Finally, track directors select the top applicants to be new students for the DIR track.

Criteria for Selection

Selection into the DIR track is competitive.

Per ULSOM Policy 4.8, students are eligible to apply to DIR if they have successfully completed all M1 courses on the first attempt. Eligible applicants will also provide evidence of previous research experience and previous successful completion of a research program or project. UofL’s Summer Research Scholar Program (SRSP), Cancer Education Program (CEP) or an equivalent research program/project that has approval by the Directors of DIR may qualify.

Students applying to the DIR track are asked to submit:

  • A research statement in which the applicant details their previous research experience
  • A research plan in which the applicant describes the research project they hope to accomplish under DIR.

During the interview, students are assessed on their insights into their own skills and interests as clinician scientists, their ability to articulate possible research ideas, and their insights regarding research and academic medicine in general.

Students should be able to formulate, develop, and pursue ideas for research with guidance of a mentor, but with a good deal of personal initiative and independent work. They should be responsible for managing their time for track, research, and academic activities, including meeting regularly with their mentor.


 M1 Year

The DIR will be introduced to M1 students in January. Also in January, M1s will apply for ULSOM research programs such as the Summer Research Scholars Program (SRSP) .

Summer between M1 and M2 year

Students are highly encouraged to participate in a ULSOM summer research program such as SRSP, and to remain working with the faculty member who mentored their summer research program for the duration of the DIR.

Students will apply for DIR at the end of July between their M1 and M2 year.


M2 Year

Students will attend approximately 6 DIR noon sessions (50 minute) 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.

Examples of 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 that are focused on how to communicate a student’s research experiences in the context of residency applications.. Attendance is required unless directors are 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 the research paper that is the final requirement of the DIR track. The research paper must be submitted to the mentor and DIR directors for review and approval by April 1 in their fourth medical school year.


Faculty and Mentors