Advanced Summer Program for Investigation and Research Education (ASPIRE)


ASPIRE is an intensive research opportunity at Washington University School of Medicine open to current college students. Under the direction of WU clinician-researchers, Vicky Fraser, MD, Jay Piccirillo, MD, and David Warren, MD, ASPIRE introduces young investigators to medical research and furthers their existing interest in the field. The eight-week program includes a mentored human-subjects research experience, didactic coursework, and weekly professional development seminars.

Applications are open annually November 1 – February 20

Scholarship Applications are open annually November 1-February 20

ASPIRE 2020 Program Schedule:  June 1 – July 31, 2020

Scholarships are available. Please see the application instructions below to learn more about scholarship opportunities.

Selected participants work alongside experienced researchers in a variety of clinical settings. Students participate as full-time members of the research team in order to gain insight into the infrastructure of the research operation, and to witness the collaborative process of sharing techniques, implementing new endeavors, and witnessing successful investigative outcomes. Participants present their work at the end of the session.

Program Leadership:

Email Us: ASPIRE Inquiries »


The Advanced Summer Program for Investigation and Research Education (ASPIRE) offers a select group of students accelerated didactic sessions plus mentor-supported research education while providing:

  • An introduction to scientific research through a supervised project
  • Three (3) hours of undergraduate college credit
  • Education needed to develop an individual philosophy of science
  • Experience in the laboratory setting, discovering specific areas of interest
  • An opportunity to establish a network for career building
  • Tools to provide an understanding of medical research
  • An opportunity to analyze and present findings

Program Requirements

Didactic Coursework

In preparation for the hands-on research experience, participants enroll in a three-credit course that covers the basic fundamentals of clinical research, including topics such as research methodologies, designing outcomes, and statistics. Trainees are expected to complete all work assigned in the courses and to actively participate in class discussions. Textbooks are provided.

Full-time Clinical Research

ASPIRE students are required to pursue their research training full-time, normally defined as 40 hours per week, throughout the duration of the program. Students must complete no less than 8 weeks of full-time clinical research as active members of their mentor’s research team. ASPIRE students work alongside experienced researchers. During this time, students engage in lab meetings, presentations, and may conduct some independent research assigned by their mentors. Students gain insight into the process of conducting research and become part of the collaborative process of sharing techniques, new endeavors, and successful investigative outcomes.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Students must complete training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. ASPIRE provides all students with access to seminars and/or coursework that must be successfully completed prior to the start of the summer session in order to fulfill this requirement.

Friday Seminar Series

All participants are required to attend a one-hour summer research seminar held every Friday throughout the duration of the program.

Final Abstracts & Presentations

ASPIRE students complete an abstract and give an oral presentation on the research conducted during the program.


Level of Education

The Advanced Summer Program for Investigation and Research Education (ASPIRE) applicants must be full-time college Freshmen, Sophomores, or Juniors. Students must be 18 years of age by the start of the program.

While the program does not have a minimum GPA requirement, the majority of our participants enter the program with a GPA of well above 3.0/4.0.

Professional Effort

This is a rigorous research program in a professional setting. All trainees are required to pursue their research training full-time, normally defined as 40 hours per week, throughout the duration of the program.

Applications and Scholarships

ASPIRE applications are open annually November 1 – February 20.
Please read the instructions below prior to submitting your application.
The following documents are required for a complete application:

1. Application

2. Current Transcript

Applicants must submit a copy of their transcripts from the program in which they are currently enrolled. Unofficial copies are acceptable.

3. Recommendation Letter

The online application requires one reference to submit a letter of recommendation. Upon submission of the online application form, an email will be automatically generated to your reference with guidelines and instructions regarding how to upload the letter. This reference must be a science instructor, professor, work supervisor, academic advisor, or sponsor of an activity or club in which the applicant has participated. The online application site provides applicants with a checklist on which they may view confirmation of the documents that have been uploaded to their application. It is the responsibility of the applicant to verify that the reference has submitted a letter by the February 20 deadline.

4. Personal Statement

Applicants must also submit a 500 to 750 word personal statement addressing the following:

  • Your career and development goals, including how participation in this program may impact on your potential as a future researcher
  • Your research interests
  • How participation in ASPIRE will benefit you – Reason for applying
  • Your motivation for completing ASPIRE

5. Request for Scholarship Consideration (Optional)

Scholarship application information will become available in October.