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SIMR 2013 Stanford Inst. of Med. Summer Research Program

MBb8T5MBb8T5 Posts: 39Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2013 in Summer Programs
SIMR is an awesome research program, I highly recommend it. I participated in 2012.

The website ( Program Description - Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR) - Stanford University School of Medicine ) covers the basics: it’s an 8-week program hosted at Stanford, you’re paired with a grad student/postdoc mentor and perform biomedical research with their guidance. As with all research programs, your experience will depend on your mentor and project, but on the whole people liked their mentors and projects. There are some morning lectures where profs talk about their research & careers in science (these are really good), and some institute-specific lectures where grad students talk about their research.

Admissions:
SIMR is extremely competitive: this last year they took ~60/1200 applicants, a 5% acceptance rate (lower than any undergraduate college). Most people there have good stats; a good portion have previous research experience; some are extreme overachievers [[[a few have done very well in science fairs (one was def intel semis), academic contests (USAMO quals, I think one particpated in IBO), and one person I met has ~1,000,000 users for his iphone apps/games. ]]]

Most SIMR students were more good-all-around students, you don’t need a nobel prize to get in. However, you do need a compelling application. This is not all stats--your essays are extremely important!-- and they encourage diversity, so if your essays show you have a burning passion to do research/unusual life circumstances/compelling reason why you want to study medicine/your essays are just amazing and makes the director really like you for whatever reason, you don’t need a 2400 SAT or whatever to be admitted. If you’re URM/underprivileged that is a definite plus. (However, note that a large majority are not URMs or underprivileged, most are asian/indian with well educated parents, you don’t have to be ‘diverse’ in a traditional sense to get in. If you are stuck on the diversity essay, try writing to the prompt ‘what makes me unique/special’.)

Most SIMR participants go on to top schools (#1 destination Stanford, #2 Harvard). A few get author on papers if they are lucky and have gotten a lot done; some do very well in science fairs. Bioinformatics/computer projects tend to get results more quickly (good for science fairs), but the results you get varies widely based on your project (research involves luck), so sign up for whatever you’re interested in. (If you hate programming, you don’t sign up for bioinformatics).

One note about the social atmosphere: you have to take the initiative to get to know people. If you do so, it will make your summer a lot more fun! People are scattered across the med center, and there is no central meeting time/place for lunch. Some people basically go to lab, eat in lab, leave lab, rinse and repeat. However, if you attend the optional weekly social events, and you make an effort to meet other interns during lunch and get to know them, then you will make a close group of friends and have a great time. Most of the interns are pretty cool, socially competent, incredibly talented, and fun to be around (assuming you like being around smart, motivated people)-- take the time to get to know them!

Notes on demographics (these are rough & from my impression/memory):
I would guess ~15/60 were minorities in 2012; most of the rest were asian (including the subcontinental variety, which some prefer to distinguish as indian).
Gender ratio was pretty balanced.
Most interns were juniors/rising seniors (say 75%?) while only ~?25% were to-be-college-freshmen.
Most interns received $500 stipends.
Most were from the bay area (well over half, maybe >75%).
Note if you need to get housing: it is expensive! If you’re 18 you can apply to live on campus which costs $2500-$3000 for the summer, off campus is similar.

If you are choosing between SIMR and SHARP I’ll make another thread with the key differences (I did SHARP after junior year and SIMR after senior year, I’ll be a frosh at stanford in fall 2012).
Post edited by MBb8T5 on
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Replies to: SIMR 2013 Stanford Inst. of Med. Summer Research Program

  • GrammerNaziGrammerNazi Posts: 636Registered User Member
    I heard a rumor that SIMR will be restricted to Californians only for the 2013 year. Any chance you could shed some light on that?
  • CordycepinCordycepin Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    ^I'd like to know if that's true as well. Definitely interested in applying, and thanks for all of the information!
  • HoloceneHolocene Posts: 601Registered User Member
    I also did SIMR this past year and would HIGHLY recommend it. It was one of the best summers of my life, everyone was incredibly nice, and I am currently writing a paper for Intel/Seimens with the research I conducted (I didn't do bioinformatics but still have lots of data). I pretty much agree with everything in the OP. I would also emphasize that you shouldn't go into the summer obsessed with a science project. Focus on enjoying the experience and learning tons! I actually didn't even decide to submit my project to science fairs until the last week of summer.

    No final word on whether SIMR will be restricted to Californians only. The idea was thrown out there at our closing session but we weren't told a definitive answer. If any other SIMR participants have a clearer answer, feel free to elaborate, of course.
  • litoteslitotes Posts: 302Registered User Member
    Did everyone have a grad student or postdoc as a mentor, or did anyone work directly with a professor as a mentor?
  • HoloceneHolocene Posts: 601Registered User Member
    Pretty much everyone had a grad student or postdoc as a mentor. Some people has what were titled "research associates," which is basically a career researcher (i.e. not a professor, but already done with their PhD and postdoc). I think there were 1-2 people who were were advised by a professor without a PhD, postdoc, or research associate as their mentor. Those people had more independent projects and less one on one time.

    I have no idea why you would want a professor as a direct mentor. They're busy! Professors generally do not do lab work at all. They are writing grants, managing the research, sometimes teaching, and a million other things. It is much more informative to have a mentor who is in the lab with you all day and thus can teach you much more about day to day life in a lab. Even college students in labs are generally not directly advised by their PI. Most people did meet their lab's PI at lab meetings and such, but not everyone.
  • litoteslitotes Posts: 302Registered User Member
    That's true, professors are busy. But at my program (Michigan State HSHSP) I was fortunate enough to have a professor as a direct mentor, and she was so kind as to make time for plenty of one-on-one with me, even among all the grants she was writing. It's almost unthinkable to me that there could be some people at SIMR who would never meet their PI. While not everyone at HSHSP had a professor as a direct mentor, I would say that just about everyone learned a lot from the lab PI. My professor gave me plenty of instruction at the beginning but left me a lot of room to be independent with my project. She came away with a very positive impression of me and will be writing a supplemental rec letter for me, which I am very grateful for.

    What I'm saying is, I really enjoyed having a professor as a direct mentor, but to each his own I supposed. Not trying to start any cross-program rivalries ;p
  • CordycepinCordycepin Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    That's definitely a good point. In the end I think it's up to the individual - some professors frequently participate in lab work while others do general research, write grants, etc. It's not so bad working with a grad student or postdoc as a mentor. They usually have a lot of experience with the procedures at hand, in addition to the whole process of writing drafting research proposals, writing a paper, etc.
  • HoloceneHolocene Posts: 601Registered User Member
    That's true, professors are busy. But at my program (Michigan State HSHSP) I was fortunate enough to have a professor as a direct mentor, and she was so kind as to make time for plenty of one-on-one with me, even among all the grants she was writing. It's almost unthinkable to me that there could be some people at SIMR who would never meet their PI. While not everyone at HSHSP had a professor as a direct mentor, I would say that just about everyone learned a lot from the lab PI. My professor gave me plenty of instruction at the beginning but left me a lot of room to be independent with my project. She came away with a very positive impression of me and will be writing a supplemental rec letter for me, which I am very grateful for.

    What I'm saying is, I really enjoyed having a professor as a direct mentor, but to each his own I supposed. Not trying to start any cross-program rivalries ;p

    I guess I don't understand why the fact that your mentor was a professor enriched your experience any more than if that same person had been a grad student, post doc, or research associate. I had one on one time with my mentor daily, and appreciated that she was in the lab with me all the time. When I had a quick question she was right there, so I didn't have to waste time finding my PI, who was not always in the lab. Everything that was great about your PI is great about the SIMR mentors - I had great instruction, was provided with great reading material, had all my questions answered, etc. I never felt lost, confused, or neglected. And by the way, my PI is writing my a letter of rec as well. I don't know how many people asked their PIs for letters of rec, but I'm sure pretty much all of them were willing. It is also fairly common for the direct mentor to ghost write the rec and for the PI to sign it, which makes the letter more personal.
  • ScienceAndMeScienceAndMe Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    I am a biotechnology student ,currently in my 3rd year of bachelors in India. I am looking for internships in US universities. My GPA is not that great due to some personal issues that cropped up during exams ,so I failed a few exams in college but I have potential to do research and I love science. I am currently working on a research project in India and my report is due in November. I would like to do a summer research internship in the US or UK in May-June, for 2 months. Please give me some information on this.
  • CordycepinCordycepin Posts: 68Registered User Junior Member
    Does anyone have any statistics or know how many students accept for SIMR this year were from out-of-state?
  • collegeluva101collegeluva101 Posts: 1,105Registered User Senior Member
    For those of you who went last year, do you think you could post your stats. I know that essays are one of the most important parts of the application, but you have to have pretty to good stats to start off. So could you please post your stats? Thank you!
  • pleiotropypleiotropy Posts: 107Registered User Junior Member
    I was going to apply to this program because I am so in love with Stanford.
    Then I realized that I had no housing :( :(
  • HoloceneHolocene Posts: 601Registered User Member
    Does anyone have any statistics or know how many students accept for SIMR this year were from out-of-state?

    While I don't have hard data, a quick skim of our facebook group gave me 40 from the bay area, 8ish from Southern California, 8ish from OOS, and another 10 who either weren't there or it would have taken me more than 10 seconds to discern where they live lol. I have no idea what the applicant pool looked like, though, so it is very possible that most applicants were from the bay area. It's also possible that there is a strong selection bias for bay area students. Who knows?
    For those of you who went last year, do you think you could post your stats. I know that essays are one of the most important parts of the application, but you have to have pretty to good stats to start off. So could you please post your stats? Thank you!

    I will give you a brief outline. But keep in mind, like you said, that the deciding factors will be intangible. At the time of my application:

    - 4.0 unweighted, enrolled in 4 AP classes, 11th grade, bay area.
    - 2200ish SAT, no subject tests
    - secretary of science club, treasurer of a service club
    - director of volunteers at a small hospital
    - red cross club founder/president
    - part time job
    - paid internship at a database
    - some music stuff, all at the local level
    - research experience in a lab the summer after 10th grade
    - a science camp the summer after 9th grade

    I had a very strong LOR from my AP Biology teacher and I spent a lot of time on my essays. SIMR was one of 7-8 programs I applied to. It had one of the last deadlines, so at that point my essays had been refined like crazy. But, as you can see, while I was very involved with science/medicine/my community, I had nothing insanely outstanding and absolutely no awards. I really think that this part of the OP is worth reiterating here:
    SIMR is extremely competitive: this last year they took ~60/1200 applicants, a 5% acceptance rate (lower than any undergraduate college). Most people there have good stats; a good portion have previous research experience; some are extreme overachievers [[[a few have done very well in science fairs (one was def intel semis), academic contests (USAMO quals, I think one particpated in IBO), and one person I met has ~1,000,000 users for his iphone apps/games. ]]]

    Most SIMR students were more good-all-around students, you don’t need a nobel prize to get in. However, you do need a compelling application. This is not all stats--your essays are extremely important!-- and they encourage diversity, so if your essays show you have a burning passion to do research/unusual life circumstances/compelling reason why you want to study medicine/your essays are just amazing and makes the director really like you for whatever reason, you don’t need a 2400 SAT or whatever to be admitted. If you’re URM/underprivileged that is a definite plus. (However, note that a large majority are not URMs or underprivileged, most are asian/indian with well educated parents, you don’t have to be ‘diverse’ in a traditional sense to get in. If you are stuck on the diversity essay, try writing to the prompt ‘what makes me unique/special’.)
    I was going to apply to this program because I am so in love with Stanford.
    Then I realized that I had no housing

    This is not an insurmountable obstacle. There were probably 10-15 students from out of the area who managed to secure housing.
  • collegeluva101collegeluva101 Posts: 1,105Registered User Senior Member
    I feel like I have not had enough Science/Research experience.

    I am a member of my school's science club, take IB HL Biology, and did a paid internship at a Harvard Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology lab last summer.

    Do you guys think that this will be enough if I work my absolute hardest on the essays (which I plan on doing)? If not, what else would you suggest?
  • HoloceneHolocene Posts: 601Registered User Member
    I feel like I have not had enough Science/Research experience.

    I am a member of my school's science club, take IB HL Biology, and did a paid internship at a Harvard Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology lab last summer.

    Do you guys think that this will be enough if I work my absolute hardest on the essays (which I plan on doing)? If not, what else would you suggest?

    Can't tell if srs.
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