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Dean’s Research Scholars

The Dean’s Research Scholars (DRS) program offers students the opportunity to take ten months to pursue a research experience with either a Keck School of Medicine faculty mentor, USC faculty member, or an approved mentor at another institution.  Research can be in any field (basic, clinical or translational).

The DRS year is taken after the third year of the MD curriculum.

Currently, the program runs for 10 months, from beginning of July to the end of April.

Application Due date: March 1 and decisions are expected no later than April 1.

Information Session

A dual degree/DRS information session will be held in November.  More information to follow.

Student Eligibility

This program is open to any student in good standing who has completed his/her/their third year of medical school. The research year will be completed between years III and IV.

Application Process

DRS applications are expected to represent a project that will require a 10-month time commitment by the student.  Students should develop a project with a faculty mentor and obtain departmental approval prior to submission.

Funding – Scholarship & Conference Travel

Students working with USC faculty mentors are eligible for the Dean’s Research Scholarship, which provides a stipend. Stipend will be $25,000/10 mo. (for students with USC mentor).  The scholarship recipients are selected through a competitive process that includes review of the application by a committee of faculty with final allocation of resources by the dean.

DRS students are also eligible for up to $1,000 for conference travel for the year to present work directly related to their DRS project. Current DRS students may send Fiaba Zakarian a copy of the abstract acceptance to obtain prior approval. Expenses may include meeting registration, airfare or other transportation, and hotel accommodation. Original receipts are required. Submit receipts and itemized list of expenses to upon return from travel.

Medical Student Research Forum & Poster Day

Dean’s Research Scholars are required to participate in the annual Medical Student Research Forum & Poster Day.

AbstractPlease submit your DRS Abstract to in a Word document according to the formatting requirements listed on the Submitting Your SP webpage.

Oral Presentation Nominations: Please email if you would like to be considered to provide an Oral Presentation on your project at the forum.  Three Dean’s Research Scholars will be selected for this opportunity.

Poster: Please submit your DRS Poster to as a PDF in the formatting requirements listed in the on the Submitting Your SP webpage. You are required to present your poster at one of the poster sessions. Your poster session will be assigned to you.


PSSF Medical Scholars Research Fellowship

Students who aspire to become physician-scientists and are dedicated to making fundamental discoveries that improve health and plan to do basic, translational, or applied biomedical research (not clinical) during their DRS may consider applying for the PSSF Medical Scholars Research Fellowship. Please reach out to Dr. Riddell for more information, and visit their website at


Jeffrey Riddell, MD,  Director of Medical Student Research

QUESTIONS? Please email Fiaba Zakarian at

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