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Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program

PIs: Benjamin Han, MD, MPH and Ellen Lee, MD

The 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 2 to 3 months of summer research guided by the mentorship of a UC San Diego faculty member. Students receive fulltime 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.



MSTAR summer class of 2023 at their final presentation with MSTAR PI's Drs. Benjamin Han & Ellen Lee.


Prior MSTAR Projects:

Summer 2023

Summer 2022


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 earliest students can start the program is June 1st or later. We cannot accept any start dates prior to June 1st.
  • Research project must be focused on aging.

How to Apply

Summer 2024 MSTAR application is closed. Information regarding Summer 2025 MSTAR application will be released in November 2024.

  • The application website will not save your progress. Please review this PDF to prepare your application in advance.The following attachments are also required for your application:
    • Your Resume/CV
    • Home Institution Faculty Sponsor Form. The form is located in the bulletin below. It will need to be completed by your Faculty Sponsor and emailed back to you to be uploaded in the application.
      • Definition of Home Institution Faculty Sponsor vs. UCSD Faculty Mentor
        • Home Institution Faculty Sponsor: A faculty member from the applicant's medical school
        • UCSD Faculty Mentor: If chosen for the MSTAR program a UCSD Faculty mentor will be assigned to the applicant. The UCSD Faculty mentor will work with the MSTAR recipient during the program. The applicant does not need to find a UCSD faculty mentor in advance, one will be assigned to them if chosen for the MSTAR program.
    • Personal 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."


Students are provided with a stipend that varies according to the length of the program. A minimum of 8 weeks of time is required. Students must participate in the program full-time during its duration to be eligible for the stipend.

MSTAR stipend amount is approximately $2,210 per month. It will be prorated and paid in two to three installments, depending on the number of weeks completed. Payment is received on the first of the month, for work performed the prior month. For example, for work performed in June, payment will be received the first week of July.


Additional funds for travel and housing are not provided. Students coming to UC San Diego from another medical school please visit UCSD housing resources. For students who do not have a car during Summer MSTAR, there are several mass transit routes that serve the campus and surrounding area. For more information, please visit UCSD transportation site.


Along with the research component of the program, students will be able to participate in clinical rotations, didactic sessions, and workshops.

Didactic Training

Students will spend the majority of their time working on a research project alongside a faculty mentor but will also be required to attend didactic sessions. Didactics will be held once a week and varies topics will be presented.

Didactics sessions will give students the opportunity to learn aboutresearch ethics, publication strategies, and talks on aging-relatedtopics. For a list of last year’s topics please see the didactics’ schedule.

Poster and Presentation

At the end of the summer, students will be responsible for puttingtogether a ten-minute presentation for a workshop.The goal of the workshop istoshare withtheir fellow MSTAR colleaguestheir summer project. Additionally, students will needtowrite an abstract at the end of the program, and we encourage everyonetosubmit ittothe American Geriatrics Society (AGS) conference.Previous UCSD MSTAR students have published their summer work in major peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, JAMA Ophthalmology, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Age and Ageing, Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, and PLOS One.


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

Please visit the AFAR website for more information on the program, eligibility, and application guidelines.