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Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program

PIs: Benjamin Han, MD, MPH, Ellen Lee, MD, Alison Moore, MD, MPH, FACP

The Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program is funded by the National Institute on Aging and has been offered at UC San Diego since 2005. Each year, this popular program provides up to 18 medical students from across the nation an opportunity to conduct 8 to 12 weeks of summer research guided by the mentorship of a UC San Diego faculty member. Students receive full-time training conducting hands-on research in an area of personal interest pertaining to aging or an age-related disorder. Additionally, students participate in a variety of didactics that help shape their knowledge related to aging and teach valuable skills needed to conduct research. Students are provided an opportunity to showcase their work locally and encouraged to travel to the Annual Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society to present their findings. 

Program Updates

Congratulations to Kevin Yang, recipient of the 2022 Stein Institute's Jackuelyn Harris Award for Excellence in Aging Research!
Learn more

MSTAR Trainees at the 2022 American Geriatrics Society Meeting

The annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) was held in Orlando, FL, last week. We are proud of our Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) trainees who presented their work during the Presidential Poster Session.

Suma Gudipati
Mentor: Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD
The Role of the Thalamus and Thalamic Subfields in Mediating Post-treatment Cognitive Changes in Primary Brain Tumor Patients

Isabelle Velloze
Mentor: Brent Mausbach, PhD
Interventions to Reduce Loneliness in Caregivers: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Leah Howitt
Mentor: Maile Karris, MD
Latinx Older Adults Living with HIV: Caring for This Growing and Unique Population in the 3rd Decade of the HIV Epidemic in the U.S.


Applications for the 2023 MSTAR Program will be open in the fall- of 2022. Please continue to check back here for further updates.

Students: How to Apply

1) Check Eligibility

In order to apply to the UCSD MSTAR Program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Any allopathic or osteopathic medical student in good standing, who will have successfully completed one year of medical school at a U.S. institution before starting the program is eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be citizens of the United States or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.
  • Students holding PhD, MD, DVM, or equivalent doctoral degrees in the health sciences are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicants may not hold another award, grant or participate in another program concurrently with the MSTAR program.
  • Students must participate in the program full-time for a minimum of 8 weeks and a maximum of 12 weeks. The weeks must be continuous. The didactic portion of the program will take place in late June and July. 
  • Research project must be focused on aging.
  • The stipend level is approximately $2,110 per month; actual amounts will vary based on the specific appointment period of individual students. Students will NOT receive additional funds for travel and housing.

2) Find a Home Institution Faculty Sponsor

Students are responsible for finding and contacting their own Home Institution Home Faculty Sponsor. Please note that your Home Institution Faculty Sponsor is different from your UCSD research mentor. Your Home Institution Faculty Sponsor should be a faculty member from YOUR home medical school who will be able to provide you with some mentoring or guidance when the MSTAR programs at UCSD ends. As part of the application process, you need to submit the Home Institution Faculty Sponsor form alongside the NIH-style biographical sketch of the Home Institution Faculty Sponsor. 

3) OPTIONAL: Find a Mentor at UC San Diego

You can apply with or without a UC San Diego mentor. If you are applying without a mentor, our program staff will match you with a faculty mentor after you will have been accepted to the program. If you prefer to look for a mentor on your own, here is a list of faculty who are currently open to mentoring MSTAR students. MSTAR UCSD Potential Mentor List.pdf 
This list is just a start. You can work with any UCSD faculty member as long as the research project is aging-related. 

4) Complete the Online Application Form

There are three steps to the online application:

1) The Home Institution Faculty Sponsor form

Please download the blank form, complete it, save it as a pdf, and upload as part of your online application form. 
Home Faculty Sponsor.pdf

2) Statement of Purpose

You can paste your statement into the online application form or upload a pdf. If you choose to upload a pdf, download the blank form.
Personal Statement.pdf

In your statement, describe your past experience, expectations for the program, future goals, and other important information you would like to convey to the review committee. The personal statement should address your interest in geriatrics or aging research, discuss how this interest is related to the above-listed honors, activities, and courses, and explain why you are interested in this program in particular. This portion of the application is weighted heavily by the review committee. Please be succinct, but provide enough detail to describe your interest (maximum of 750 words).

3) Complete the online application form under the button below.

You will be asked to upload your Statement of Purpose and the Home Institution Faculty Sponsor form as part of the online application form.


For more information about the MSTAR program, please email us at