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Medical Student Research Opportunities (MSTAR)

Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program

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 clinical activities and didactics that help shape their knowledge base 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.



  • 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, and students should also be present in San Diego. The didactic portion of the program will take place in late June and July. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Home Institution 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 medical school who will be able to provide you with some mentoring or guidance when the MSTAR programs at UCSD ends. Ideally, your Home Institution Faculty Sponsor focuses on aging, geriatrics or geropsychiatry. 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. 

Do I need to have a mentor to apply?

You can apply with or without a 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. Please contact us at for details on mentors and research interests.

What is included in the stipend?

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.

How to arrange housing?
We will provide a list of resources to help you find housing; however, students are responsible for finding their own housing.

Learn more about MSTAR from our students:

Spotlight on MSTAR Trainee: Kevin Woo

Kevin Woo.JPG

Read a Diary of Former MSTAR Trainee: Courtney Hsu (Maloney)

Courtney Hsu (Maloney)

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