STEP-UP is an intensive nationwide research opportunity open to current college students.

Under the direction of WashU clinician-researchers Ana Maria Arbelaez, MD, Dominic Reeds, MD, and Rita Brookheart, PhD, STEP-UP introduces young investigators under-represented in medicine (URiM) to medical research related to nutrition, obesity, diabetes and related disorders (NODR) and furthers their existing interest.

The ten-week intensive program includes a mentored biomedical research experience, didactic coursework, and weekly professional development seminars. Scholars are encouraged to participate in a second year of engagement to serve as near-peer mentors, and continue their mentored research projects. Program dates for 2024 are being finalized.

Applications open annually October 1 – February 1.

Selected participants are provided with training on fundamental concepts of T1 – T4 research. They are provided with opportunities for interactions with outstanding mentors and other scholars participating in summer training programs at WashU and other institutions. They will also have ongoing engagement in an online format after the summer sessions. Students work with Washington University School of Medicine to secure a research institution and mentor. It is recommended that students conduct research at an institution within commuting distance of their residence. Students interested in conducting research at an institution not in proximity to their residents must make their own housing and transportation arrangements.

Please note: We plan to offer an in-person experience for summer 2024. STEP-UP program participants must adhere to all WashU requirements for being on campus

Program Benefits

STEP-UP offers a select group of students accelerated didactic sessions, plus mentor-supported research education while providing:

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


Summer 2024 tuition is covered by the program for three undergraduate credits from Washington University in St. Louis.

Contact us

We want to hear from you. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the program.

Email us at