Advanced Summer Program for Investigation and Research Education (ASPIRE)

ASPIRE is an opportunity at Washington University School of Medicine offered to current college students. Under the direction of WU clinician-researchers, Vicky Fraser, MD, Jay Piccirillo, MD, and David Warren, MD, ASPIRE was created to introduce young investigators to medical research and further their existing interest in the field. The eight-week program includes didactic sessions, seminars and a mentored research experience.

Applications are open annually November 1 – February 20.

ASPIRE Schedule:  June 1 – July 31

Tuition required to participate in ASPIRE totals $2,400 for three undergraduate academic credits. Some scholarships are available. Please see the application instructions below to be considered for a scholarship.

Selected participants work alongside experienced researchers in a variety of clinical and community-based 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, new endeavors, and successful investigative outcomes.

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

Program Requirements

Didactic Coursework

In preparation for the hands-on research experience, participants are required to enroll in a three-credit course that covers the basic fundamentals of clinical research, including topics such as research methodologies, designing outcomes, and statistics. 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 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 (June 1).

Professional Effort

All trainees are required to pursue their research training full-time, normally defined as 40 hours per week, throughout the duration of the program.


ASPIRE applications are open annually November 1 – February 15.
Please read the instructions below prior to submitting your application.
The following documents are required for a complete application:

1. Application Form

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 also 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 an activity or club in which the applicant 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.

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 – this is not required for your application to be considered for ASPIRE.  Scholarship requests will not impact admission decisions)

Scholarships funding for ASPIRE varies from year to year. In order to be considered for a scholarship, please submit a one (1) page essay addressing the following:

  • If you are a first generation college student
  • Why a scholarship is important to you
  • What type of scholarship is needed – Please be specific (e.g., tuition, housing, living expenses, transportation, etc.)
  • Whether or not receipt of a scholarship will prohibit your participation in ASPIRE

The essay must be submitted via email directly to the project manager, Laura Peer, at or, prior to the application deadline of February 20. It is not to be uploaded within the online application system.

Additional Notes for ASPIRE Applications:

  • Only complete applications will be reviewed. Applications will not be considered as complete until all supporting documents have been submitted. All application materials must be submitted online. Supporting documents may be updated and re-submitted online prior to the application deadline. Please note that the selection committee will only receive the last version uploaded for each document. Failure to upload all required documents and letters (complete and in the proper format) will result in the application not being reviewed. Missing EVEN ONE (1) item by the deadline will result in the application being rejected. It is the responsibility of the applicant to monitor the status of ALL required documents.
  • If you have previously applied to ASPIRE, you must complete a new application for the current cycle.
  • Applicants must complete and SUBMIT the online application form  before supporting documents (transcripts, recommendation letter, personal statement) may be uploaded.
  • PDF versions are required for supporting documents.