Health Research Program

Dr. David Martinelli and Rohit Makol '20 (ENG).
HRP student researcher Rohit Makol '20 (ENG), seated, works with David Martinelli, assistant professor of neuroscience at UConn Health, during summer 2017.

Program Overview

The Health Research Program offers a pathway into undergraduate research for students with interests in health and the biomedical sciences. By facilitating connections between UConn Health researchers and UConn undergraduates, this program involves more students in the cutting-edge research at the Farmington campus. The Health Research Program includes a combination of academic year and summer research opportunities, offering undergraduates and their faculty mentors a structure for sustained engagement in research projects, maximizing student learning and preparation for graduate study and/or careers in the health professions.


Information Sessions

For an overview of the program, students are encouraged to attend one of the HRP Information Sessions below:

  • Monday, November 13, 4:00-5:00pm, McHugh 110
  • Tuesday, December 5, 4:00-5:00pm, online - Join Here


To be eligible for the Summer 2024 phase of the Health Research Program, a student applicant must:

  • Currently be pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UConn, and plan to graduate with that bachelor’s degree no earlier than May 2025. This includes students pursuing Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of General Studies, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and Bachelor of Social Work degrees.
  • Be a full-time student in good standing at a UConn campus during the Spring 2024 semester.
  • Be willing to continue their research involvement for Fall 2024 and Spring 2025.
  • Not have participated in any previous phase of the Health Research Program. Each student is eligible for a maximum of one placement and one summer stipend through the Health Research Program.

Beyond these general eligibility criteria, each individual opportunity description will specify the desired qualifications for that position.

Application Deadline

Opportunities for Summer 2024 are now posted below. Applications must be submitted by January 29, 2024.

We expect that faculty will interview their leading candidates between February 2 and February 15, and offers will be made in late February 2024.


How to Apply

Research opportunity descriptions and application links are accessible in the Summer 2024 Research Opportunities section of this page. Each opportunity has its own description and application link. If you wish to apply for more than one opportunity, you must tailor your application materials to each opportunity's requirements and submit an application to each opportunity that interests you. Please note that if you apply to more than one opportunity, OUR will send you a follow-up form in mid-February in which you will rank those opportunities in order of preference; your ranking must be submitted no later than 9am on Friday, February 16th. For guidance on how to use the application management system, please review the Quest Portal User Tips.

Financial Support

Stipend Support to Students

  • Students participating in the summer 2024 program will receive a $4,000 stipend for a commitment of 360 hours of summer research (10 full-time weeks).
  • Students may receive a maximum of one summer stipend over the course of their participation in the Health Research Program.
  • Academic year HRP student researchers (continuing research for fall & spring) may be eligible to apply for a $1,000 winter research stipend if they commit to completing 90 hours of winter break research.


Summer 2024 Research Opportunities

Summer 2024 applications are open. For reference purposes, the names of participating faculty and a brief description of the research opportunities they sponsored appear in the table below. Click on the relevant link in the right column to view more detail about the opportunity.
Faculty Mentor Project Description Opportunity Link
Dr. Eran Agmon Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling, Departments of Molecular Biology and Biophysics For this summer project, the student will work on a computational model of bacterial interactions in the human gut microbiome. The student will write code to add new mechanistic details to the model, will simulate it, visualize the results, and evaluate the results by comparing with experimental data. The final model and results will be presented in a Python notebook and shared online for others to learn from. HRP SU24-1
Dr. Srdjan Antic Department of Neuroscience This is a basic science research project aimed at understanding cellular determinants of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We use an animal model of AD -- mice carrying specific genes, which trigger development of amyloid plaques in the cerebral cortex. By the means of brain slice technology, electrophysiology (synaptic stimulation), and optical imaging (calcium and voltage imaging) we seek to determine if synaptic transmission in disease-free animals (Control) is any different from that occurring in the AD model animals developing amyloid plaques. The student will learn software for analysis of the optical imaging records (physiological), organization and presentation of measurements, some basic histology techniques for detecting plaques in saved brain sections, and if interested, the student may perform optical imaging of synaptically evoked depolarizations in brain slices working together with a postdoc. HRP SU24-2
Dr. Michael Blinov Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling I have a variety of computational projects described at, and can accommodate students with an interest in applications of computers and mathematics to biology in many directions: reading publications and coding biological mechanisms, using software to model, web development, algorithms coding, visualization using graphical tools, etc. HRP SU24-3
Dr. Alice Burghard Department of Neuroscience Hearing loss and auditory temporal processing deficits have been identified as a possible predictor of dementia. The project will assess a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD) at different stages of disease progression. The work includes in vivo recordings of auditory evoked potentials in anaesthetized mice and histology of the brain of these mice. HRP SU24-4
Dr. Manuel Castro-Alamancos Department of Neuroscience The project is for students in the fields of data science, engineering, computer science, applied math, statistics, biology, psychology, or neuroscience who have programming skills in Python, R, and/or Labview (or others) and who are interested in helping develop tools for automated analyses of complex data pipelines originating from neuroscientific experiments addressing the neural basis of behavior in mice. The student would be involved in developing the software tools used to control the experiments (actuators and computer vision) and/or analyze the data (data models), which includes recordings from hundreds of neurons in behaving mice. Opportunities to participate in the research by conducting experiments are also available. HRP SU24-5
Dr. Steven Chou Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics Assembly of the short actin filaments on the cytoplasmic side of human red blood cells. Aim 1—isolation of the short actin filaments in human red blood cells. Aim 2—cleavage of the cytoskeleton of human red blood cells by the SerA6 protease from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. HRP SU24-6
Dr. Emil Coman UConn Health Disparities Institute (HDI) The project will engage an UG student in a mutual learning process of combining methods, tools, and substantive knowledge from fields like (bio)statistics and causal inference to answer questions like: (i). (Is there, and) How strong is the causal effect of (gaining/excess) body weight/mass on diabetes/blood glucose? (ii). Does the body weight->diabetes effect differ by race/ethnicity? (iii). Are there differential diabetes prevention benefits of weight loss among different racial/ethnic groups? It proposes to share the faculty’s new insights into training methods for applied statistics/data analysis, recast in a way such that causality is imbued into the analytical process from the very beginning. It will utilize an existing dataset from a prior randomized intervention, along with other datasets the faculty has access to, and public data (e.g. ‘geo-spatial’). It proposes to introduce the UG student to new approaches to data science/analytics, using applied investigative work instead of lecturing-type expositions. HRP SU24-7
Dr. Jessica Costa Center for Molecular Oncology, Center for Regenerative Medicine and Skeletal Development Our research focuses on modeling of parathyroid tumorigenesis and the related Hyperparathyroidism-Jaw Tumor syndrome. The student will assist in phenotypic characterization of genetically modified mice including: DNA/RNA extraction, PCR-based genotyping, rotary sectioning of fixed tissue, analyses of changes in RNA and/or protein expression and in vitro assessment of PTH secretory activity. HRP SU24-8
Dr. Ellis Dillon Center on Aging We are conducting short satisfaction surveys with residents and family members from each nursing home in Connecticut. Over the summer we are looking for someone to assist with recruiting family members to complete a brief 3-question survey. You will be based in our office helping email, mail, and call individuals who are the family members of nursing home residents to ask them to complete the survey. You will also accompany research team members to conduct surveys in nursing homes with residents. You will help analyze the data collected with this survey to understand differences across nursing homes. HRP SU24-9
Dr. Breno Diniz UConn Center on Aging The research project in our lab is focused on the analyses of cell-free nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (cf-nDNA or cf-mDNA)in plasma samples. Our goal is to understand the dynamics of cf-nDNA and cf-mDNA in psychiatric disorders and different diseases of aging. We are also focusing on the analyses of cf-DNA from cultured PBMCs and related in-silico analyses. HRP SU24-10
Dr. Carolyn Greene Department of Psychiatry I am seeking an undergraduate student intern to assist with the Supporting Teen Adjustment and Resilience (STAR) Study a research study investigating the development of emotion regulation strategies in early adolescence and emotion socialization parenting behaviors among parents who have experienced trauma and their 11-14 year-old children. The intern will assist with parent and child baseline visits to our laboratory, where families will be consented, complete questionnaires and receive training for the experience sampling portion of the study (2 weeks of surveys completed at home on their phone). The intern will also assist with recruiting and scheduling subjects and monitoring subjects' participation in the experience sampling trial, as well as with other administrative tasks. The intern will have the opportunity to develop a poster or paper on a research question of their choosing, related to children’s emotion regulation, parents’ socialization behaviors, and children’s functioning. Data for the project can be drawn from previous studies on parent and child emotion regulation and emotion socialization. HRP SU24-11
Dr. Andres Grosmark Department of Neuroscience As the world population ages Alzheimer's disease (AD) has gained epidemic proportions, yet our understanding of the precise mechanisms by which AD leaves specific memories vulnerable to forgetting remain unclear. One type of memory that is profoundly affected by AD is long-term spatial memory. In my lab students will have the opportunity to help develop, test and implement 3D virtual reality devices built specifically for testing long-term spatial memory on mouse models for AD. Students with backgrounds in coding/computer science and/or biology are encouraged to apply. HRP SU24-12
Dr. Yuan Gui Department of Medicine/Nephrology The project explores how Coronin 1A remodels inflammatory microenvironment and dictates acute kidney injury (AKI) prognosis. We will subject AKI models, including ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) and cisplatin injection, to WT and coronin 1A knockout mice to evaluate AKI outcomes after coronin 1A deletion. Besides, global/phosphor-proteomics will performed to explore the underlying mechanism. HRP SU24-13
Dr. Arthur Gunzl Department of Genetics & Genome Sciences Our research is on gene expression factors and mechanisms in the lethal human parasite and unicellular eukaryote Trypanosoma brucei (we work with a strain that is not infectious for humans). Trypanosomes use an obligatory trans splicing process that is not present in human cells to mature all pre-mRNAs. Trans splicing is carried out by the spliceosome and we are interested in discovering parasite-specific proteins that are important to this process. For example, we have characterized a unique kinase whose activity is indispensable for trans splicing. This project is to proteomically characterize the trypanosome U4/U5.U6 tri-snRNP and analyze all co-purified proteins and small nuclear RNAs. HRP SU24-14
Dr. Mayu Inaba Department of Cell Biology The Möbius strip, also called the twisted cylinder, is a one-sided surface with no boundaries. Our lab recently identified Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) -associated Möbius strips in various cell types. Summer HRP project is to isolate enzymes that localize in Mobius strips and contribute to formation/maintenance of membrane twists using proximity-labeling and mass-spec. HRP SU24-15
Dr. Sivapriya Kailasan Vanaja Department of Immunology The primary focus of our research is to determine the mechanisms by which bacterial pathogens modulate host innate immune responses. Since innate immune responses play a crucial role in the clearance of infectious agents, it is natural that pathogens have developed strategies to inhibit the same. Our research aims to identify bacterial mechanisms that activate or inhibit innate immune activation. The summer research opportunity will focus on identifying virulence factors of two enteric pathogens, Enterohemorrhagic E. coli and Salmonella Typhimurium, that can activate or suppress a major innate immune pathway, the inflammasomes. The research strategy will involve working with bacterial mutants that lack specific virulence factors and determining their mode of action in innate immune cells such as macrophages. HRP SU24-16
Dr. Brian Kelley Department of Neurosurgery This project focuses on alterations of the blood-meningeal barrier (BMB) after diffuse traumatic brain injury (TBI). Using a mouse model and small animal surgical techniques, post-traumatic changes within the BMB will be studied using immunohistochemical techniques including confocal and immunoelectron microscopy. Research will focus on generating preliminary data for a more comprehensive grant submission seeking to delineate secondary neurovascular injuries following mild TBI / concussion. HRP SU24-17
Dr. Insoo Kim Department of Medicine Students will help with developing a self-administered speech test method using the Modified Rhyme Test (MRT). First, the MRT will be done without signal processing as a reference. Then, the MRT will be done with speech sounds applied signal processing to enhance the sound clarity. The aim is to find the trial MRT word sets that closely match the outcomes of the full MRT, which consists of either 25 or 50 trials (for example, choose 5 trials) by human participant studies. Students' responsibility will include managing MRTs in an audiometric booth and assisting in data collection and analysis. HRP SU24-18
Dr. Changchun Liu Department of Biomedical Engineering Smartphone-based detection plays a critical role in disease early detection and health monitoring at the point of care (Song et al., Analytical Chemistry, 2018, 90, 7, 4823-4831; Yin et al., Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical. 2021, 344: 130242). In this summer project, we will develop smartphone app to detect DNA biomarkers in microfluidic chip. We will also build an electrical circuit to control microfluidic chip. Please find more detail on our current research through the website: HRP SU24-19
Dr. Xin-Ming Ma Department of Neuroscience Exploring the mechanisms underlying depression and anxiety with a novel COP1 genetic mouse mode. Depression is often co-morbid with anxiety. Currently available antidepressant drugs generate unsatisfactory outcomes because the mechanisms of depression are poorly understood. COP1 is a risk factor for depression and anxiety, its protein is found in the brain areas associated with depression and anxiety. This study is to find whether COP1 deficit or overdose in the brain causes depression in a COP1 genetic mouse model. The results will enhance our understanding of mechanisms underlying depression and anxiety. HRP SU24-20
Dr. Peter Maye Center for Regenerative Medicine The project area focuses on developing computational approaches to aid in the analysis of microscope images. Open-source Matlab and Python applications will be used to analyze microscope images. The testing of applications by outside groups to determine their utility and accuracy to work on the images generated by our research group. The ultimate goal is to develop automated image analysis workflows that contain alerts and notification systems in place. HRP SU24-21
Dr. Royce Mohan Department of Neuroscience Two broad projects are available for study. One encompasses research related to AMD using genetically altered mice and drug treatments to support a means to block fibrosis and restore normal healing. In the second project also using transgenic mice, we are investigating corneal Schwann cell (cSC) responses to a range of injuries and studying how cSCs control axonal growth and sensory recovery in the cornea. HRP SU24-22
Dr. Megan O'Grady Department of Public Health Sciences Drug overdoses are at an all-time high, contributing to over 100,000 deaths per year. Opioids have been a major contributor to these mortality rates. The research assistant will have the opportunity to work at the Center for Prevention Evaluation and Statistics (CPES) at UConn Health on projects that are evaluating opioid prevention and overdose initiatives across Connecticut. The research assistant will work with the CPES team to examine data, conduct research interviews, and create presentations and reports from evaluation activities. HRP SU24-23
Dr. Hideyuki Oguro Department of Cell Biology The Oguro laboratory investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate the development, self-renewal, mobilization, and malignant transformation of blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) using mutant mouse models, patient samples, and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Potential projects involve studying gene expression modifications in human iPSCs or mouse HSCs to explore the roles of candidate genes in HSC biology. This includes tasks such as plasmid constructions, lentiviral and/or transposon gene delivery, CRISPR-activation/interference of gene expression, and flow cytometric analysis of cultured human iPSCs or mouse HSCs. HRP SU24-24
Dr. Carla Rash Departments of Medicine & Psychiatry I have several projects ongoing: 1) randomized clinical trial to support employment in persons living with HIV; 2) medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders; and 3) a new responsible gaming study will be launching in spring 2024. In addition, I have completed trials that could be used for data analyses/posters/papers for motivated students. HRP SU24-25
Dr. Danielle Rux Department of Orthopaedic Surgery We are interested in understanding mechanisms that drive the development of synovial joints and articular cartilage, the cushion that prevents damage to articulating bones. The selected student will learn to perform PCR, tissue histology, staining and imaging techniques from a novel genetically modified mouse model to test molecular mechanisms that control articular cartilage growth and maturation during embryonic and postnatal development. HRP SU24-26
Dr. Tannin Schmidt Department of Biomedical Engineering Lubricin is multi functional protein, with both lubricating and anti inflammatory properties, that is present throughout the human body. While initially discovered and studied in synovial fluid as a lubricant of joints, we recently discovered in tears, the ocular surface, and in the posterior of the eye. Recombinant human lubricin has been shown to be clinically effective in treating dry eye disease, improving signs and symptoms of dry eye disease in humans. This project will examine the biological (anti-inflammatory) properties of recombinant human lubricin in the context of disease(s) related to the eye. HRP SU24-27
Dr. Benjamin Sinder Department of Orthopaedics Bone is a highly dynamic tissue and your entire skeleton is replaced every ~10 years! Using specialized animal models, we study how bone strength is maintained and also work to develop new treatments for rare bone disorders such as osteogenesis imperfecta where patients are at extreme risk of fracture. The selected student will get the opportunity to use a variety of cutting-edge histology, microscopy, microCT imaging, and/or mechanical testing techniques to address these questions. There may be opportunities to focus on certain techniques/aspects of a project depending on the candidate. HRP SU24-28
Dr. Henry Smilowitz Department of Cell Biology 1. The Smilowitz lab in collaboration with Nanoprobes, Inc. pioneered the use of heavy atom nanoparticles to enhance radiation therapy of tumors. Going forward our lab will focus on a novel nanoparticle for radiation dose enhancement that may be better suited for translation to the clinic. Experiments will designed to understand how these nanoparticles can be used to maximize radiation dose enhancement of tumors--including tumor loading, distribution, mechanism of action and efficacy studies. 2. Collaborative studies are also ongoing in our lab on the targeting of nanoparticles to breast and brain tumors for therapeutic RNA delivery. 3. A third area of interest is the delivery of iodine nanoparticles to brain tumors in relation to the blood brain barrier. Experiments this summer will build on recent findings. 4. A new area of interest in the lab is therapy induced tumor dormancy (please see our 2023 publication in Cancer Immunology immunotherapy). Students who may have an interest in our lab are encouraged to look at the Smilowitz Lab Cell Biology blurb for our publications since 2000 and to set up an appointment to talk about projects in the lab. HRP SU24-29
Dr. Timothy Spellman Department of Neuroscience Neurons of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) enable an individual to selectively attend to important stimuli while ignoring distractions. While prefrontal neurons are highly diverse in their responses to neuromodulators/neurotransmitters, their synaptic connectivity profiles, and their involvement in various fundamental cognitive processes, until recently it was not possible to isolate these cell types for recording and manipulation during behavior. This project will bring together 2-photon calcium imaging, optogenetic tools, and rodent cognitive testing to identify specialized roles for unique prefrontal neuron subtypes in performing tasks requiring selective attention. HRP SU24-30
Dr. Ali Tamayol Department of Biomedical Engineering The project involved the fabrication and characterization of an innovative bioprinter that can deliver cells into lesions or into skin for treatment of skin-related injuries and diseases. In this project the trainee will have the opportunity to work with our handheld and robotic tools to achieve the tasks. The trainee will also be able to test the effectiveness of cell and therapeutics delivery. HRP SU24-31
Dr. Ephraim Trakhtenberg Department of Neuroscience We study how the brain develops and utilize gained knowledge to reverse-engineer regeneration of the brain tissue damaged by an injury or stroke. We employ a multidisciplinary approach spanning cutting edge genetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, and gene therapy, which will provide a student with an opportunity to explore different approaches and select a project that aligns best with the individual’s career goals and interests. HRP SU24-32
Dr. Melanie Tran Department of Nephrology Renal fibrosis is the pathophysiological hallmark of chronic kidney disease, which is characterized by extensive fibroblast activation and extracellular matrix accumulation. The mechanisms implicated in renal fibrosis are not fully understood, and existing therapies are often limited and ineffective. This research project aims to investigate signaling pathways that regulate renal fibrosis development. The student will gain experience in cell culture, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, qPCR, Western blot and mouse models of chronic kidney disease. HRP SU24-33
Dr. Sebnem Tuncdemir Department of Neuroscience Febrile seizures (FS) can occur in up to 5% of children younger than 5 years old, causing lifelong impairments in learning and memory. This project will examine how early-life seizures disrupt hippocampal circuits during the critical period of memory formation using mouse models to label hippocampal neurons according to their birth-dates and integration into the memory ensembles. The student will perform intraperitoneal injections in pregnant dams to label neurons based on their birthdate, followed by histological characterization of their morphology and circuit integration after FS during the critical period of memory formation. HRP SU24-34
Dr. Oscar Vargas-Rodriguez Departments of Molecular Biology and Biophysics The summer research project aims to decipher the functional role of a family of proteins known as aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases in bacterial pathogenicity. These proteins regulate protein biosynthesis and may enable pathogenic microbes to survive, adapt, and thrive in different environments, particularly within their host during colonization and infection. The student will perform standard molecular biology and biochemistry assays, including molecular cloning, protein, nucleic acid manipulation, enzymatic assays, and cell-based experiments. HRP SU24-35
Dr. Paola Vera-Licona Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling, Center for Quantitative Medicine This summer, our lab offers a unique opportunity for an undergraduate student to engage in computational systems biology research. The project, tailored to align with your academic interests and background, allows you to choose between two key areas: cancer research (e.g., cancer malignancy reversion) or aging studies (e.g., reversing senesce in aged pancreatic beta cells). Utilizing multiomics data, you will learn to model and analyze signaling regulatory networks, employing our in-house software NETISCE, and other computational tools. Your tasks will include (1) network construction and analysis using various omics datasets, (2) applying computational methods for cell reprogramming, and (3) collaborative interpretation and discussion of results. HRP SU24-36
Dr. Rajkumar Verma Department of Neurosciences Following a stroke, a surge of ATP is released from compromised brain cells. This surge, in turn, triggers a cascade of events, including the activation of neurons and microglial purinergic receptor P2X4 (P2X4R). This activation facilitates rapid excitatory neurotransmission through the influx of cations. However, excessive activation of P2X4R can lead to the release of several pro-inflammatory cytokines during the initial stages of ischemic injury. Interestingly, the effects of acute activation stand in contrast to those observed with chronic inhibition or the absence of this receptor. In fact, prolonged inhibition or the lack of P2X4R might hinder the process of stroke recovery. Thus, acknowledging the dual role of P2X4R in different phases of ischemic injury, we are currently engaged in a systematic exploration of its potential as a therapeutic target for enhancing post-stroke recovery. In essence, our research endeavors revolve around deciphering the intricate role of P2X4R, recognizing its potential as a double-edged sword in stroke-induced processes. Through a comprehensive understanding of its temporal dynamics, we aim to pave the way for innovative therapeutic interventions that can tip the balance in favor of improved recovery outcomes. HRP SU24-37
Dr. Yanlin Wang Department of Medicine Chronic kidney disease (CKD) afflicts more than 37 million Americans. The current therapeutic options for this progressive disorder are limited; therefore, novel therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. Renal inflammation plays an important role in CKD, which is characterized by macrophage activation and polarization. However, the molecular mechanisms of macrophage activation and polarization are not well understood. The summer research project will include examining the role of PU.1, a transcription factor, in macrophage activation and polarization. This project is expected to provide novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of inflammation and could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of CKD. HRP SU24-38
Dr. Ping Yan Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling There is a research opportunity on developing new voltage sensitive dyes, which are used for imaging membrane potentials. The student will have broad hands-on experience on the synthesis of organic compounds, and test the newly developed voltage sensitive dyes using spectroscopic and microscopic methods, on model cell membrane, and even on real cells (in collaboration with Dr. Loew). HRP SU24-39
Dr. Kristyn Zajac Calhoun Cardiology Center, Division of Behavioral Health The Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research (CHEARR) at the UConn Health School of Medicine is recruiting students interested in learning skills to conduct research on recovery support services for emerging adults (ages 18-25) with substance use disorders, with a particular focus on opioid use disorder. CHEARR activities include establishing and collaborating with community boards consisting of emerging adults in recovery and recovery coaches providing services in community settings; developing a range of technical tools to advance the research on recovery support services and communicate these advancements to other researchers, professionals, and the public (e.g., tipsheets, webinars, social media content); develop and validate a measure of recovery capital specifically for emerging adults; and train the next generation of researchers in the field of recovery supports. The student intern would have the opportunity to participate in all of the above activities as well as two ongoing randomized clinical trials led by Dr. Zajac that are relevant to this research area: 1) a clinical trial evaluating the use of recovery coaches to reduce treatment dropout among emerging adults in community-based substance use treatment and 2) a community-based participatory research project that aims to develop a peer-led program to increase retention in medication treatment for opioid use disorder. HRP SU24-40
Dr. Dong Zhou Department of Medicine This summer project will investigate how extracellular matrix protein 1 (ECM1) determines the progression of kidney fibrosis. We have found that deletion of ECM1 caused animal death at age 8-10 weeks due to spontaneous organ fibrosis. However, very few studies pay attention to the exact role of this protein in the kidney. Therefore, we will investigate the mechanisms of how ECM1 involved in chronic kidney disease progression. The applicant will need to perform in vivo, in vitro, ex vivo experiments and learn the skills of bioinformatic analysis for the generated proteomics data in this project to understand the picture of kidney fibrosis. HRP SU24-41
Caroline Dealy Orthopedic Surgery, Orthodontics, Biomedical Engineering and Cell Biology Individuals who experience traumatic injury to their knee cartilage are at high risk for rapid development of osteoarthritis that can lead to disability in as few as 10-15 years. Osteochondral Allografting is a clinical repair approach in which the damaged region is surgically removed and replaced with a plug of donor cartilage. This approach provides good short term outcomes but eventually all grafts fail and osteoarthritis can then set in. The grafts fail because they never fully integrate into the patients' own cartilage. The goal of this project is to understand the cellular mechanisms of cartilage healing, and to develop a clinically feasible approach to stimulate healing so that grafts integrate fully after implantation and are retained longer, perhaps even permanently. HRP SU24-42
Pedro Miura Departments of Genetics and Genome Sciences There are ~20,000 genes in the human genome. Around 70% of our genes express different mRNA isoforms that differ in their 3' Untranslated Region (3'UTR). Our lab studies what molecular properties and biological functions are conferred by alternative 3'UTRs of mRNAs. The project will involves studying the regulation and function of long 3'UTRs in human neurons using techniques such as mammalian cell culture, CRISPR gene editing, and long-read RNA-Sequencing. HRP SU24-43
Yanjiao Zhou Department of Medicine My lab is a computational biology lab. We are interested in understanding the role of the gut microbiome and microbial metabolites in aging, multiple sclerosis and asthma. The techniques we use include mouse models, anaerobic culture, molecular biology, and multi-OMICS technology. The student will have the opportunity to learn wet bench techniques and bioinformatics, depending on their interests. HRP SU24-44


What time commitment is expected of a summer researcher in this program?

A time commitment of 360 hours (typically 10 full-time weeks) is expected for student researchers during the summer. The standard research dates for the program are May 20 to July 26, 2024 (subject to change), but you may elect to extend your involvement in research in consultation with your faculty mentor. All weeks of summer research must be completed between May 6 and August 23, 2024.

What time commitment is expected of an academic year researcher in this program?

A time commitment of 3-9 hours/week is expected for student researchers during the academic year; this varies across research opportunities and is a key factor to consider as you are reviewing the different opportunities and considering which might be a good fit for you. The standard formula for academic credit is 1 credit for each 3 hours of weekly research, and you will register for the appropriate number of credits given the time commitment you are making to research. Note: In the absence of extenuating circumstances (e.g., leave of absence, study abroad), a student cannot discontinue participation in the HRP during one semester and resume participation in the HRP in the subsequent semester.

How do I earn academic credit for my participation in this program during the academic year?

You will likely earn Undergraduate Research, Independent Study, or a similar kind of course credit in the department associated with your major. The most common arrangement is for a Storrs faculty member to be the instructor of record for the course and to coordinate with the UConn Health faculty member supervising your research in order to approve a learning agreement and enter the appropriate grade at the end of the semester. OUR staff will work with you individually to provide guidance on how to proceed in your specific situation.

What transportation options are available for students?

Shuttle service will not be available during summer 2023 or in academic year 2023-24. An HRP travel subsidy request process that prioritizes students with financial need will be available during the academic year; summer 2023 HRP participants will be able to apply for these funds beginning in fall 2023. We encourage you to take your class schedule and planned transportation method into consideration when reviewing the possible research schedule associated with each opportunity.

Do I need to be pre-med to participate in this program? Do I need to be in Honors?

You do not need to be pre-med or be a member of the Honors Program in order to participate in this program. The program is open to all undergraduate students interested in health research. However, bear in mind that this is a demanding program that requires you to coordinate weekly travel to UConn Health. We encourage you to take a realistic look at your schedule, the demands of your other courses, and your past academic achievement in order to assess whether this program is a good fit for you.

OUR advisors would be happy to discuss your specific situation and the most appropriate research opportunities with you at any time. Review our Meet with an OUR Advisor page for more information on how to make an appointment.

How do these opportunities continue into the academic year?

Sustained engagement in a research project maximizes learning, so we want to make it possible for students to stay engaged in undergraduate research at UConn Health over longer periods of time. The Health Research Program is focused on developing new research opportunities and involving more undergraduate students in research at UConn Health. The program offers a structure for the new student-faculty pairs that are formed in the summer to continue into the academic year. Students selected for summer 2024 opportunities will complete a mid-summer assessment process along with their faculty mentors, which will gauge whether adequate research progress is being made and will ask both student and faculty to indicate their interest in continuing the research placement beyond the summer. Continuing placements will be contingent upon satisfactory student research progress and continued interest by both student and faculty (in addition to the student’s full-time enrollment and good standing at the university). If a student continues his/her research in academic year 2024-25, s/he may be eligible to apply for a $1,000 winter research stipend if s/he commits to completing 90 hours of winter break research (and graduates no earlier than May 2025).

While students may continue research in this program across multiple academic years and/or summers, students are eligible for a maximum of one HRP summer stipend. In the absence of extenuating circumstances (e.g., leave of absence, study abroad), a student cannot discontinue participation in the HRP during one semester and resume participation in the HRP in the subsequent semester.

This application asks for a Science GPA. What is that? How do I figure out my Science GPA?

Unlike your cumulative GPA, your Science GPA is not automatically calculated and reported on your transcript. You will need to calculate this by entering the number of credits and your earned grade from each of your science classes into an online GPA calculator or by using the Nexus GPA calculator to select the relevant courses. We recommend that you move through your transcript methodically, using your best judgment to decide whether a given course is a "science course."

Is my Health Research Program stipend subject to taxation?

For questions related to taxation, please refer to the UConn Tax & Compliance Office's Student Taxation page and Student Tax FAQs.

How does participation in the Health Research Program affect my eligibility for other OUR funding programs?

During your initial summer in the Health Research Program, you may not receive any other funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research. For the duration of your participation in the Health Research Program, you will be ineligible for OUR Supply Award and OUR Research Travel Award support for your HRP research as equivalent support for these expenses is made available via the Health Research Program.