Research Distinction Track

The MD Research Distinction Track is a 6-unit elective course open to fourth-year medical students. The course is taught by Medical Student Research Program Director Marlys H. Witte, MD, Professor of Surgery.


  1. To enhance research awareness, skills and productivity in a continuum during medical school.
  2. To encourage students to value being at the forefront of medicine by becoming scientific physicians, as well as to help fill the gap in the decreasing numbers of translational physician-scientists.
  3. To design and implement a research proposal extensive and complete enough to allow the student to pursue a research topic from beginning to completion.
  4. To critically review journal articles and give medical students the opportunity to network and present their research.
  5. To demonstrate competence in the scientific method.

Course requirements

In order to earn elective credit, students must complete the following requirements.

  • Submit a research proposal for review by the Medical Student Research Committee.
  • Complete a minimum of 120 hours in the laboratory or otherwise engaged in the conduct of the approved research project.
  • Participate in at least 8 elective-sponsored meetings or seminars by the end of Year IV. At least 2 of these 8 meetings must be presentations made by the student at "journal club" sessions.
  • Upon completion of the research project, students also will be required to submit a full-length paper(minimum of 10 pages in length in standard journal format with illustrations, ideally ready for submission to a scientific journal) to the MSRC for approval.
  • Submit an abstract to their student colleagues.
  • Make a 30-minute presentation of their research.

How to apply

  1. Submit the brief Application of Intent to MSRP Coordinator Grace Wagner at to set up an appointment with Program Director Dr. Marlys Witte.
  2. Print the Research Distinction Track Application form, or stop by AHSC room 4406 to pick up an application packet.
    • If you are planning on continuing an MSRP project for the distinction track, you may submit the same proposal text with the RDT cover page and additional timeline information.
  3. Find a prospective mentor in the sponsor directory, or on your own. Set up an appointment with him or her.
    • Before contacting your mentor, print two copies of the course outline (which includes a letter to faculty members).
    • Keep one for yourself and give one to your mentor.
  4. If you and the mentor reach an agreement, complete the Research Distinction Track Application form and proposal. Submit these to the MSRP office.
  5. Enroll for Surgery/Interdepartmental Medicine 800A: Research Distinction Track through Student Records.
    • Students can enroll in the program at any time.
  6. Look out for emails alerting you about seminars, journal clubs and other events that can be attended to help fulfill the requirements of the course.


Research Distinction Track Application Forms

Required application form and description of the course.

Required application form. Submit to Grace Wagner (