Medical Research Fellows Program

The Medical Research Fellows Program encourages the development of future medical-scientists by providing a year of full-time, mentored laboratory research training to medical, dental, and veterinary students who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to biomedical research, but who are not enrolled in an MD/PhD (or equivalent) program.

“The HHMI Medical Fellows Program has been an incredible, inspiring experience that will greatly influence my future career. The mentoring I have received, both through my primary mentor and through investigators I have met at HHMI meetings, has been invaluable. This year has provided me with the opportunity to merge my interest in basic science with my love of medicine and has definitely influenced my decision to pursue a research career. Thank you for the opportunity and for all the support along the way!”
- Katie Anderson, HHMI-BWF Medical Research Fellow

The Medical Research Fellows Program enables students to be immersed in a high-impact, intensive research experience at a critical time in their professional education, before they make plans for residency or postdoctoral training. Unique aspects of the program include national and regional professional development activities, mentorship by physician-scientists, interaction with HHMI investigators, and integration into a community of like-minded peers.

Each student selects and works with a mentor to develop a basic, translational, or applied biomedical research proposal. Both mentor selection and the research proposal are key components of the fellowship application; working with an HHMI scientist is encouraged but not required. Mentors can be at any academic or nonprofit research institution in the United States (excluding the National Institutes of Health and any other government agency) or at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA. There are special requirements for the Med Fellows Program at Janelia, including a prescreening application deadline in early November.

Med Fellows may be supported by organizations partnering with HHMI:

  • American Society of Human Genetics (mentor must be ASHG member)
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund (veterinary students only)
  • Duchenne Research Fund
  • Foundation Fighting Blindness (inherited retinal degenerative disease research only)
  • Parkinson's Foundation
  • Society of Interventional Radiology Foundation (mentor must be SIR member)
Kimberly Stegmaier, MD

“The HHMI medical student research fellowship was a deciding experience in my path to a laboratory-based, physician-scientist career. It was truly a life-altering year. I am now an independent investigator with a research program focused on integrating chemical genomic, genetic, and proteomic approaches to discover new protein targets and lead compounds for cancer therapy.”

Kimberly Stegmaier, MD
HHMI Medical Fellow, 1994
HHMI Physician-Scientist Early Career Awardee, 2006

Olujimi Ajijola MD, PhD

“The year I spent in the HHMI medical research fellowship directly put me on my current career path. My passion for science was forged during this year of dedicated research. As an independent investigator studying neural control of cardiac excitability, I can directly trace my scientific drive to my profoundly positive experiences during my HHMI medical fellowship year.”

Olujimi Ajijola MD, PhD
HHMI Medical Fellow, 2003


The fellowship program provides unparalleled enrichment opportunities with HHMI investigators, other renowned physician-scientists, alumni, and peers to enhance career development and build community.

Med Fellows are fully supported for one year with the following funding:

  • A $32,000 stipend 
  • A $5,500 allowance for research-related enrichment activities, including travel to Med Fellows meetings and scientific conferences
  • A $5,500 allowance for health, dental, and vision insurance and education and moving expenses

Other benefits to participation in the HHMI Med Fellows Program:

  • Become a part of a community of Med Fellows by attending the Kick-Off Meeting in the fall, regional meetings, and other events developed specifically for Med Fellows. Gain insight into a diverse range of projects and obtain career advice from program alumni and other leading physician-scientists.
  • Interact with HHMI investigators at a science meeting at HHMI in Chevy Chase, MD, or at the Janelia Research Campus. Over 300 HHMI investigators represent more than 60 public and private research institutions and include 18 Nobel Laureates. Learn about the investigators’ career paths and receive valuable guidance during special Med Fellows physician-scientist mentoring sessions.
  • Share your research and network with other trainees and renowned physician-scientists at the Med Fellows end-of-year meeting at the ASCI-AAP Joint Meeting in Chicago. Take part in special Med Fellows sessions designed to provide multi-level mentoring by senior and early career investigators and to offer practical advice for planning your research career.
  • Work with an outstanding mentor at an institution of your choice and develop your own basic, translational or applied research project that capitalizes on existing projects in your mentor's lab but has the opportunity to launch your career as a future physician-scientist.

See the 2018 Program Information booklet for benefits details.

Arinola Awomolo

"One of the highlights of my fellowship was presenting my work at the American Society of Hematology conference and getting to meet and learn from top researchers in the field. I'm very grateful to HHMI for giving me the opportunity to be immersed in research for a year, and I would strongly recommend the program to any medical student considering a research career."

Arinola Awomolo
HHMI Medical Fellow

Valerie A. Arboleda MD, PhD

“My year in the HHMI medical student research fellowship program was key for me to decide to pursue a physician-scientist career. In that year, I was able to dive deep into a research project and ultimately realized that I belonged in a laboratory setting answering questions about the genetic underpinnings of human disease. Ultimately, I earned my MD and PhD and after completing a residency in clinical pathology, am now using functional genomic tools to identify targetable mechanisms underlying rare neurodevelopment disorders.”

Valerie A. Arboleda MD, PhD
HHMI Medical Fellow, 2007


  • Students must be in good standing at a medical, dental, or veterinary school located in the United States 
  • U.S. citizenship is not required, but students must have an appropriate work visa
  • Students cannot be enrolled in a combined medical, dental, or veterinary/PhD program or a PhD or ScD program. They cannot have earned a PhD or ScD in a laboratory-based biological science. 
  • Previous bench experience is required, with applicants having had one or more substantial research experiences (summer or part-time). For placement at Janelia, students must have an especially strong record of research accomplishment and commitment.
Anna Krawisz


"This year enabled me to grow as a researcher by carrying out all aspects of a project and having the full intellectual and academic experience of a scientist. I plan to choose a residency with a research track and pursue a career combining medical practice with research. I am honored to have received an HHMI fellowship; it has been foundational and shaped my vision of my career."

Anna Krawisz
HHMI Medical Fellow

Sheena Chew

"Working in Dr. Engle's lab has given me the opportunity to investigate the etiology of rare neurodevelopmental diseases and see firsthand how our findings affect the lives of her patients. She has taught me how to use clinical reasoning to focus research questions that I can explore as a scientist, which will inform the way I approach problems in the clinic and lab throughout my career."

Sheena Chew
HHMI Medical Fellow

Applications for the Med Fellows Program require:

  • Applicant’s components (including research proposal)
  • Mentor’s components (and co-mentor, if applicable)
  • Dean’s confirmation 
  • Two reference letters

Additional steps are required for the Med Fellows Program at Janelia

Janelia Med Fellows Application Process

All application materials must be submitted online at


Mentor Selection

Students have the flexibility to choose their own mentor at any academic or nonprofit research institution in the United States (excluding the National Institutes of Health or any other government agency), or they can choose to work with an investigator at their home institution.

Students are encouraged to work with an HHMI scientist but are not required to do so.

The student’s choice of a mentor can significantly affect the outcome of the application. It is important that the mentor has:

  • external grant support from the NIH or other major agencies and the ability to financially support the student’s project during the entire fellowship term,
  • strong publications in the area of research the student is investigating,
  • a solid training track-record, and
  • the time and interest to train the student.

Each mentor is limited to two Medical Fellow applicants in the annual competition.

A student can have a co-mentor if her or his research plan crosses several areas of expertise, or if the primary mentor is more junior and a senior co-mentor would strengthen the research training experience.

Students interested in the areas of research supported by HHMI’s funding partners follow the same application process and designate their interest in a partner-sponsored fellowship slot within the Medical Fellows Program application.

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, MD

"Since first applying for an HHMI fellowship more than 10 years ago, I've believed that the hybrid position offers unique and rewarding opportunities…The patients in my clinical program motivate me to research the mechanisms of brain-tumor development, and my laboratory research addresses basic questions about the human brain and brain tumors."

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, MD
HHMI Medical Fellow, 1997-98
HHMI Physician-Scientist Early Career Awardee, 2006