Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program

Program Dates 2015:
June 22, 2015 - August 7, 2015

It is our good fortune to have in the United States the best of medical facilities and constant state of the art research, providing ongoing advancement of knowledge and development of new treatment approaches. Yet, we face the challenge of addressing major gaps in research, health care, preventive measures, health policy, and bridging cultural barriers for a large segment of our population who are from traditionally underserved groups. The Institute of Medicine issued a report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare, highlighting the severity of disparities in health care among racial and ethnic minorities. Among its specific recommendations is increasing the number of minorities represented in the health professions. Addressing these disparities is one of the highest priorities in U.S. medicine.

Of critical importance in addressing such disparities is training a racially and ethnically diverse physician work force. Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and Provost for Medical Affairs, Cornell University states: "Our patient population has grown increasingly diverse. New York City, in particular, is one of the most racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse cities in the world. To best serve our patients, we must have a diverse workforce. Here at Weill Cornell, we have a unique opportunity to welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds to enrich our community of scholars, to study, and to become the physicians of the future." The presence of diversity among medical students becomes a critical mutual education process for all medical students, faculty, and administrators. Minority students become the physicians who we need to assist the field of medicine in addressing our major disparities in health care. Our Medical College and the Travelers Summer Research Fellowship has been and remains an essential part of that effort.

Identifying potential medical students who have a major interest in the medical problems of the underserved is critical. Every effort must be made to include among our medical student body students who have had life experience with a range of issues affecting diverse groups, including minorities and the underserved, who have demonstrated direct interest in such issues via activity with various student organizations that target minority issues, and have the career ambition to address the problems of the medically underserved.

The Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program is designed to give 25 premedical students deeper insights into the field of medicine, including issues that greatly affect the health of traditionally underserved groups. Through the experiences of laboratory or clinical research, the student learns how one pursues a specific research problem under the supervision of a faculty member, thus providing an early education into basic research techniques that could be applicable to any area of medicine. A lecture series explores topics in cardiovascular physiology, exposing the students to basic science concepts that are relevant to a more specific understanding of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, both of which are major problems in minority communities. The summer fellows attend a series of talks by minority physicians about various medical specialties, addressing issues of concern in these physician's daily work plus views of the bigger picture in health care to minority communities. Rounds in the hospital with advanced year students provide further exposure to the clinical facets of medicine. Students in the summer program receive counseling on financial planning for medical school and how to examine the financial aid package.

The Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program is co-directed by Elizabeth Wilson-Anstey, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, and Dr. Joseph F. Murray, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Equal Opportunity Programs. Since 1976, Dean Wilson-Anstey has helped develop and run the summer research program. Dr. Murray has been on faculty since 1999. Both are active members of the Admissions Committee.

Last summer's fellows came from a wide range of institutions:

Barnard College
Beloit College
Bryn Mawr College
City University of New York, Brooklyn College
City University of New York, City College of New York
City University of New York, Hunter College
City University of New York, Queens College
Columbia University
Cornell University
Harding University
Knox College
Macaulay Honors College at Queens College
Monmouth University
New York Institute of Technology
Pitzer College
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Southern Illinois School of Medicine (Post-Bac)
Syracuse University
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
William Smith College

Students receive a $140-a-week cost-of-living allowance and are housed rent - free in the dormitory for medical students, but are required to pay for their meals and other living expenses. Travel expenses are paid for students that live some distance from New York.
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