Student Research Grants
University of Minnesota Foundation Medical Student Research Grants
Please note: The awards process changed in 2017-2018. There is only one type of grant at this time.
UMF encourages innovative research by Medical School students and awards grants to students pursuing basic, clinical, or community-based research interests. The goal of this program is to encourage medical students to conduct independent, mentored, academic research using a protocol of their own design.
$3,000 grants are available for 8 - 12 weeks of research during free or elective periods or during the summer. Applications are received twice a year.
The bi-annual deadlines are September 15th and February 15th.
Policies and guidelines
To qualify for funding, the research must be one of the following:
- basic science bench research
- clinical lab research (e.g., evaluating a new biomarker as a potential diagnostic, prognostic, or therapeutic efficacy marker)
- clinical research involving direct patient observation or treatment
- clinical research involving patient health databases
- community-based research involving data acquisition by the student
The following policies and guidelines also apply:
- Students must be good academic standing and enrolled in the University of Minnesota Medical School in the Twin Cities or Duluth.
- Applications are forwarded to the Medical Student Grant Research Committee for review. The committee determines who the award recipients will be.
- A 12-week project need not be conducted over 12-consecutive weeks, but research completed over two or more consecutive rotations will normally produce the most substantive work. The customary maximum for 12-week projects is 6 months. Projects requiring more than 12 months to complete will not be considered.
- A student may receive up to two grants provided a full report is submitted for each phase.
- A Medical School faculty member must serve as project supervisor. The supervisor will provide guidance in choosing a project and may assist in writing the proposal (although cutting and pasting sections from a mentor’s grant application is not acceptable. See sample protocal tab). The supervisor will also provide, as needed, laboratory facilities, equipment, and supplies. The project supervisor will write a letter commenting on the candidate’s proposal and the candidate’s aptitude, and providing a precise and complete description of the candidate’s role in the project and the nature of the questions to be addressed. The applicant’s role must be clearly explained in the application and be central to the success of the project. A faculty member can only serve as a mentor for a maximum of two grants at any time.
- Projects must be designed and conducted primarily by the student with supervision and input by mentors. They must include rigorous methodology whether laboratory-based, epidemiological or health services-related. Proposals that do not clearly establish that the applicant has a central role will not be funded.
- A limited number of $500 Medical School Supplemental Research Awards are available to support laboratory-associated costs of student projects involving heart research or cardiovascular disorders. Off-campus laboratories are ineligible for this supplemental award. To be considered, the student’s faculty supervisor should include in the letter of support a request for a Medical School Supplemental Research Award and an explanation of the project’s relationship to heart research or cardiovascular disorders.
- A final progress report will be required from every grantee following the end of the research period. The report will be due within four weeks after the research period is completed. The report should be submitted using the Student Grant Final Progress Report Form. The responsibility for submitting the final report rests with both the grantee and the faculty mentor. Until the final report is received by UMF, the student will not be eligible for any additional UMF research grants and the faculty mentor will not be allowed to mentor another student holding a UMF medical student research grant.
- Students who hold or are pursuing a PhD degree, including MD PhD students, are ineligible.
- Grants are paid to recipients as personal income and are taxable.
Apply for a grant
UMF Student Research Grant Application
As the role of the host immune system in tumor immunosurveillance is elucidated, increasing attention is being given to targeted immunotherapy as a promising cancer treatment. It is known that tumors express antigens which can induce host immune responses under experimental conditions. Yet tumor-reactive T cells are rarely found in vivo. The development of cytotoxic T cells depends on the action of activated antigen presenting cells, such as dendritic cells. Antigenic tumor peptides must be presented within the context of MHC class I molecules with appropriate co-stimulatory molecules. It has been hypothesized that the lack of T cell response in cancer patients may result from a deficiency of functional dendritic cells. (1) In animal models the reinfusion of dendritic cells which have been treated with tumor antigens has been shown to induce specific immunity, leading in some cases to a decrease in tumor mass. (2)
The hypothesis to be evaluated with this project is: Can anti-tumor cytotoxic T lymphocytes be generated by dendritic cell presentation of breast cancer peptides? The first goal will be to determine whether immature human dendritic cells derived from bone marrow precursors can be primed with tumor proteins to become mature cells which present processed peptides to autologous T cells. Secondly, the development of T cell cytotoxic activity against the breast cancer targets and IFN? production will be measured to determine whether the dendritic cells can successfully activate specific immunity in the T cells. The work described will be done exclusively by the applicant, with assistance from personnel in the [mentor’s] laboratory.
- Prepare a membrane lysate from an HLA-A2 breast cancer cell line, MCF-7.
- Purify immature dendritic cells from the bone marrow of an HLA-A2 donor.
- Purify T cells from the peripheral blood of the same donor.
- Verify the activated status of the dendritic cells after they have been pulsed with the membrane preparation.
- Grow autologous T cells in coculture with the activated dendritic cells.
- Determine whether the T cells become activated to proliferate and produce IFN?.
- Determine whether the T cells develop cytotoxic activity against the breast cancer target cells.
- Breast cancer cells will be lysed to form a preparation of tumor cell membranes.
- Dendritic cells will be grown from bone marrow derived progenitors. CD34 cells will be isolated from bone marrow by immunofluorescence. The stem cells will be cultured with GM-CSF, IL-4, and TNF to induce the differentiation of dendritic cells.
- T cells will be purified from peripheral blood.
- The dendritic cells will be primed by pulsing them with the breast cancer cell membrane preparation. (4)
- The transformation of dendritic cells from immature antigen-capturing cells to mature antigen presenting cells will be assessed by phenotyping with monoclonal antibody staining for CD54, CD40, CD80, CD83, CD86 and MHC molecules. The expression of these cell surface antigens increases with maturation. (5)
- Chaux P, Moutet M, Faivre J, Martin F, Martin M. (1996), Lab. Invest. 74, 975-983.
- Schuler G, Steinman R. (1997) J. Exp. Med. 186, 1183-1187.
- Romani N, et al. (1996) J. Immunol. Meth. 196. 137-151.
- Paglia P, Chiodoni C, Rodolfo M, Colombo M (1996). J. Exp. Med, 183, 87-97.
- Banchereau J, Steinman R. (1998) Nature, 392, 245-252.