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Medical Student Fellowship Program

FOCUS Medical Student Fellowship in Women’s Health

The FOCUS Medical Student Fellowship in Women's Health offers University of Pennsylvania medical students funding for six months to work full time with a faculty mentor conducting clinical or basic science research or to work in a community-based program centered around issues of women's health. Depending on the specific funding source secured from year to year, students have the option to work with a faculty member actively engaged in women's health research or to work in a community-based agency providing women's health related services. In addition to fostering research collaboration that benefits both the medical faculty mentor and the medical student mentee, the goal of the fellowship is to promote the growth of a cadre of physicians with an appreciation of and specific expertise in the field of women's health.

For a research-based experience, medical students work closely with a faculty mentor. The purpose of this experience is to enable medical students to learn "hands-on" research and collaborative skills; to gain knowledge of a particular area of women's health; and to potentially work on a publication or article generated from the research.

For a community-based experience, medical students work in a community agency or organization on a defined project related to women's health. The goal of this opportunity is for the medical student to be guided by a faculty mentor to comprehend and appreciate the multitude of community factors that impact women's health and to learn about aspects of program development and implementation of women's health services. While working on a site-defined project that provides needed services to a community organization, students gain exposure to community-based approaches to women's health.

Eligibility: University of Pennsylvania medical students (all genders) who have completed their clinical clerkships are eligible and encouraged to apply.  Applicants must not have any additional funding simultaneous with the 6 months that they plan to dedicate to this Fellowship.

Funding: FOCUS solicits funding for these fellowships annually. A monthly stipend of $1,250 will be provided to student fellows, totaling $7500 for the six-month fellowship term. These FOCUS funds may be applied to a 6 month period of a longer research experience whose remaining time is supported from other sources.

Mentorship: Applicants are required to identify potential faculty mentors as part of their application.  Mentors must be full-time Penn faculty with solidly established and active research programs (please contact us with any questions about this).  You may scroll through the list of prior fellows to get a sense of other project and mentor possibilities.  Student applicants interested in projects or faculty mentors other than those listed on the website are welcome and encouraged to propose these alternatives. Preference will be given to those applicants who have a clear plan and enthusiasm for a project and mentor when they apply.

Credit & Requirements: Any of the FOCUS Fellowship opportunities have been designed to be a scholarly pursuit rather than a work-study experience. Medical students who complete the 6-month Fellowship period will fulfill the Scholarly Pursuit curriculum requirement (3 credits). Any FOCUS Fellowship will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will be recorded on the student's transcript. A student awarded as a FOCUS Fellow will work with their Penn faculty mentor to prepare a formal initial project proposal which must be reviewed and approved by the FOCUS Director of Research Programs. A progress report will be required mid-way through the project and a final written report will be due at the completion of the six-month experience. Students will be expected to attend three Fellowship research meetings to discuss their projects with each other and the FOCUS Directors and deliver a formal presentation of their research at the final meeting.

See Application Specifications for most current cycle.

The Medical Student Fellowship is made possible through the Bertha Dagan Berman Award


The Bertha Dagan Berman Award in Women's Health was established in 1997 through the generosity of Linda Lee Alter. This endowment makes it possible for at least three medical students each year to spend six months in a focused experience studying some aspect of general women's health. Women's health is defined very broadly. Prior Berman Award recipients have chosen to study such topics as pregnancy and family-building in patients with multiple sclerosis; women’s psychosocial outcomes following pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia; family planning decision making in refugee women; the role of gender and voice-related quality of life in aging adults; ectopic pregnancy; teledermatology for women in urban primary care centers; determinants of bone mineral density; excisional biopsy versus core biopsy among breast cancer patients; risk of bone fractures in HIV/HCV coinfected women receiving combination antiretroviral therapy; racial disparities in breast cancer reconstruction; pregnancy and family-building in patients with multiple sclerosis; analysis of gender differences in substance abuse, improving access to preventive care, finding new ways of providing information about health to women in underserved communities; analysis of breast tissue markers in breast cancer research; dermatologic aspects of systemic lupus erythematosus; attitudes toward assisted reproductive technologies; and, physician/patient communication and expectations regarding ovarian cancer prognosis. 



FOCUS will send a request for applications in Spring 2025.  View the Application Specifications for our current cycle.

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