Advanced Pathways to Research Program (A-PReP)

The Advanced Pathways to Research Program (A-PReP) is a research training program for doctoral-level professional health sciences students and early-PhD students interested in clinical and translational research. 

In addition to a mentored research experience, A-PReP students attend weekly seminars providing a grounding in translational research networking and presentation skills with some of the top researchers at the University. Students build camaraderie and learn from other students in the program while gaining valuable research and career development skills. The summer research experience culminates with a poster presentation at the CTSI Annual Poster Session and the opportunity to win a travel award to present at a conference of the student’s choosing. A-PReP is an opportunity to take your research career to the next level.

Scholars will conduct original research under the direct supervision of a University of Minnesota faculty mentor active in clinical or translational research. With input and oversight by the faculty mentor, the scholar will work on a project related to the mentor’s ongoing research programs.

Program overview 

  • Seeking University of Minnesota doctoral-level professional health sciences students (DDS, DNP, DVM, MD, PharmD, etc.) and early-PhD* students with an interest in clinical or translational research for a full-time summer research program

  • Stipend of $600/week provided for full-time engagement (40-hours/week), 12 weeks between June 1** – August 21, 2020

  • Up to 10 students selected 

  • UMN doctoral-level professional health sciences and early-PhD students are eligible regardless of citizenship or immigration status

  • Applicants from underrepresented populations are strongly encouraged to apply (these populations are defined in detail in the RFA)

  • Applications due February 3, 2020 by 11:59pm.

*PhD student eligibility is limited to those within their first 12 months of starting their pre-doc program and with limited past research experience. Questions regarding level of research experience should be sent to with CV attached.

**Medical Students are permitted to start on June 29 and complete 8 weeks of the program.

Application details 

This program is not currently accepting applications.

Application requirements

Scholar applicant information Online form

Personal Essay (single space, 12-point font)

  • Describe any research experience you have had (if applicable)
  • Your career goals
  • Why you are interested in the training program
  • Research Plan Overview: background, sample, clearly stated hypothesis*, and methodology (not to exceed 2 pages, further instructions provided on page 5)

*applications without a clearly stated hypothesis will not be scored

Up to four pages
Curriculum Vitae Up to four pages
All transcripts from undergraduate school and your current program (unofficial copy acceptable)  
Two letters of recommendation

Letters must be submitted by the letter writer to:

Letter of support from proposed mentor  
Proposed mentor’s current NIH biosketch  
Proposed Mentor Training Experience Form  
Mentor-Mentee Compact  

Research Plan Overview Instructions

This is a 12 week training program (8 weeks for Medical students) designed to assist students in understanding the scope of translational science. To that end, each student is paired with a mentor conducting translational research. Within that mentor-mentee relationship, students may be conducting a narrowly defined project that can be completed in 8 or 12 weeks, or interface in some way with a larger on-going research project. Both are equally acceptable. A detailed methodology section is not required as the science will not be evaluated. The application should avoid making broad, sweeping, or grandiose goals for the student. Expectations should be achievable within 8 or 12 weeks.

For interfacing with a larger on-going project:

  • In a few paragraphs, the student should provide a brief introduction to the research problem being addressed.
  • In a few sentences, the student should describe the overall goal of the research project.
  • The student should describe the hypothesis and relevant specific aims of the project that relate to their involvement.
  • The student should clearly state how they expect to interface with the research project and list their activities.

For a narrowly defined research project:

  • In a few paragraphs, the student should provide a brief introduction to the research problem being addressed.
  • A research hypothesis should be provided.
  • The student should describe their role and describe their activities within the research project.

A-PReP scholars


Ibrahim Abdelgawad, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Beshay Zordoky

Jenna Langer, Medical School - Duluth

Mentor: Catherine McCarty

Andres Lim, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Jeffrey Bishop

Joshua Merickel, College of Veterinary Medicine

Mentor: Gerard O'Sullivan

Jennifer Nelson, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Robert Straka

Siddhee Sahasrabudhe, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Reena Kartha

Yuting Shan, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Stephanie R. Huang

Jena Velji-Ibrahim, Medical School

Mentor: Noam Harel

Fan Wang, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Melanie Nicol

Grey Wiebe, School of Nursing

Mentor: Sarah Hoffman


Parker Johnson, College of Pharmacy

Project title: Plasma alpha-synuclein as potential biomarker in Type 1 Gaucher Disease 
Mentor:  Reena Kartha

Anita Kwashie, College of Liberal Arts

Project title: Neural Correlates of Cognitive Control
Mentor: Angus McDonald, III

Kathleen Miley, School of Nursing

Project title: Baseline gray matter pathology and correlates of cognitive impairment in the Community Based Cognitive Training in First Episode Psychosis Study
Mentor: Sophia Vinogradov

Kalpit Modi, Medical School

Project title: Patterns of cardiac replacement fibrosis in cancer cardiotoxicity
Mentor: Chetan Shenoy

Claire Park, College of Liberal Arts

Project title: The Role of Parent Stress and Neighborhood Variables in Child Executive Functioning
Mentor: Simone French

Michelle Patregnani, Medical School-Duluth

Project title: Severity of mental illness as a predictor for treatment outcomes in a trial of opioid versus non-opioid treatment
Mentor: Erin E. Krebs

Boguang Sun, College of Pharmacy

Project title: Using SNP frequencies for Very Important Pharmacogenes (VIPs) to Predict and Compare Algorithm-based Warfarin Dosing Recommendations Between Hmong and non-Hmong Asian Populations
Mentor:  Robert J. Straka 


Megan Conlon, Medical School Duluth

Project title: Can inclusion criteria of Mindful Movement be modified to include individuals with disabilities?
Mentor: Roni Evans, DC, PhD

Aileen Scheibner, College of Pharmacy

Project title: Preparative Regimen Exposure-Response Relationships in Nonmyeloablative Stem Cell Transplants: Correlative Pharmacokinetics
Mentor: Pamala Jacobson, PharmD, FCCP


Rosemary Fister, School of Nursing

Project title: Identifying Homelessness in a Community Health Center
Mentor: John Song, MD, MPH, MAT

Luis Ortega, Medical School

Project title: Latino Parent-Child Relationships and Substance Use
Mentor: Michele Allen, MD, MS


Ali Alhadab, College of Pharmacy

Project title: Optimize Sertraline Therapy in the Treatment of HIV-associated Cryptococcal Meningitis
Mentor: Richard Brundage, PharmD, PhD

Laurel Davis, College of Education and Human Development

Project title: Mental Health Outcomes Among Youth with Incarcerated Parents in Minnesota
Mentor: Rebecca Shlafer, PhD

Colleen Doyle, College of Education and Human Development

Project title: Understanding the Health Effects of Early Life Stress: Individuals
Mentor: Megan Gunnar, PhD

Amy Feng, Medical School

Project title: Myocardial Repair Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Tri-Lineage Tissue-Engineered Patches
Mentor: Jianyi Jay Zhang, MD, PhD

Ghada Elnashar, College of Pharmacy (Melendy)

Project title: Characterization of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Type 1 Gaucher Disease
Mentors: James Cloyd, PharmD and Reena Kartha, PhD

Hyunjoon Kim, College of Pharmacy

Project title: Developing Effective Immunotherapy Agents for Treating Bladder Cancer
Mentor: Thomas Griffith, PhD

Alex Loeks-Johnson, Medical School 

Project title: CRISPR-Cas9 Bacterial Endonuclease System to Induce Gene-correction of a Mutation in the Plakoglobin Gene in Patient Stem Cells
Mentor: Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD

Natalie Schmitz, College of Pharmacy

Project title: Analyze the Baclofen Concentration Data and Estimate Pharmacokinetic Parameters, including Cmax, Tmax, AUC, and Oral Bioavailability using WinNonLin (Pharsight) software
Mentor: James Cloyd, PharmD

Natalie Schwehr, School of Public Health

Project title: Model an Adaptive Treatment Policy for Adults with Relapse-remitting MS (RRMS)
Mentor: Karen Kuntz, ScD

Kathryn Thomas, Medical School

Project title: Assessing Cardioprotection with Pharmacological Pre- or Post-conditioning Agents in an Acute Surgical Model
Mentor: Paul Iaizzo, PhD

Ya-Feng (Jay) Wen, College of Pharmacy - Duluth

Project title: Develop a Genomic-based Drug Selection Strategy to Select Patients with HU who are Better Candidates to have Better Clinical Responses to Allopurinol
Mentor: Robert Straka, PharmD


Erin Casey, Institute of Child Development

Mentor: Rebecca Shlafer
Project title: Understanding Extended Visitation in Minnesota's Women's Prison

Dorothy Curran, Medical School

Mentor: Michele Allen
Project title: Parent-Training Program's Effects on Youth's Smoking Susceptibility: Exploring a Dose-Response Relationship

Benjamin Eidenschink, Medical School

Mentor: Julia Davydova
Project title: CRaD vector delivery of NIS-Mediated Radioiodine

Elizabeth Jarrett, Medical School

Mentor: Iris Borowsky
Project title: The relationship between adolescent self-perception of weight, mental health, and social protective factors

Brett Kistner, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Angela K. Birnbaum
Project title: The Clinical Significance of Anti-Epilepsy Concentration Fluctuations & Co-Medication Type on Outcome Measures in Elderly Nursing Home Residents

Gregory Laffen, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Robert J. Straka
Project title: Investigating the Genetic Determinants of The Uricosuric Action of Fenofibrate

David Matson, Medical School

Mentor: David W. Polly
Project title: Effect of osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture

Benjamin Otopalik, Medical School

Mentor: Kelvin Lim
Project title: Transcranial direct current stimulation as a novel therapy for medication

Kinjal Sanghavi, College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Pamala Jacobson
Project title: Genetically guided dosing of tacrolimus in kidney transplant recipients

Robert Sjoholm, Medical School

Mentor: John Song
Project title: Respite Care: Effects on the Perceived Health and Health Care Utilization


Racheal Harlos

Mentor: Susan Everson-Rose
Project Title: Factors mediating depression and cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged woman by race

Ashley Hasti

Mentor: Mindy Kurzer
Project Title: Green Tea and Reduction of Breast Cancer Risk

Sarah Hoffman

Mentor: Cheryl Roberston
Project Title: Karen Refugees: Health Correlates of Trauma Exposure

Angela Jeong

Mentor: Ling Li
Project Title: Prenylated proteins as therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s Disease

G. Mauricio Mejia Ramirez

Mentor: Simone French
Project Title: Evaluation of visual information for childhood obesity prevention in Latino Americans

Malek Okour

Mentor: Richard Brundage
Project Title: Correlations between biomarkers and therapeutic outcomes: Application to mycophenolic acid and kidney transplantation

Rebecca Pulk

Mentor: Pamala Jacobson
Project Title: Effect of the POR*28 variant on tacrolimus troughs in kidney transplant recipients

Youssef Roman

Mentor: Robert Straka
Project Title: Analysis of single nucleotides polymorphisms (SNPs) in Hmong population and hyperuricemia

David Satzer

Mentor: Aviva Abosch
Project Title: Relationship between deep-brain stimulation electrode location and electrical current delivery

Dane Schaleben-Boateng

Mentor: Michele Allen
Project Title: Promoting educator‐student connectedness and positive youth development in Latino, Somali and Hmong youth

Joyce Trost

Mentor: Teresa Kimberley
Project Title: Electromyography impairment in patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Anthony Wiseman

Mentor: Pamela Jacobson
Project Title: Relationship between clinical outcomes and pharmacokinetic measures, activity measurements and genotypes in patients receiving RIC HCT


Elizabeth Aby

Mentor: Jerrold Vitek
Project Title: Clinical Assessment of the Reliability and Feasibility of ParkinTune in Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Programming

Gina Danielson

Mentor: L'Aurelle Johnson
Project Title: The Effect of Obesity and Development on Hepatic Drug Metabolism

Alicia Gunterus

Mentor: Jatinder Lamba
Project Title: The Effect of CD20 Polymorphism on Rituximab Response in CLL Patients

Krista Johnson

Mentor: James Cloyd 
Project Title: A study comparing blood and plasma assay methods for measurement of topiramate concentrations

Suresh Kumar Agarwal

Mentor: James Cloyd
Project Title: A Meta-Analysis of the Absorption Characteristics of Diazepam Following Alternative Routes of Administration for Acute Repetitive Seizures

Susan Lee

Mentor: Ruby Nguyen 
Project Title: Comparing Diagnostics of OB Ultrasounds in Obese Minority Women

Craig Meyer

Mentor: Pamela Schreiner
Project Title: Self-reported depression and discrimination and brain tissue volume

Sara Moran

Mentor: Mark Kirstein
Project Title: Oxaliplatin and OSI-906 in the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer

Adam Nelson

Mentor: Pamela Jacobson
Project Title: The Pharmacogenetics that Effect Mycophenolate Pharmacokinetics

Sarah Parker

Mentor: Bruce Blazar
Project Title: Characterization of Distinct iPS Cells for Potential Therapy in Hurler Syndrome

LeeAnna Pederson

Mentor: Robert Straka
Project Title: Consideration of Genetic Variations of UGT2B7 and APOE Genes Within the Pharmacogenomics for Hypertriglyceridemia in Hispanics Trial

Gina Piscitello

Mentor: Susan Everson-Rose
Project Title: How psychosocial stressors such as hostility, anxiety, anger, discrimination, and depression differ in the way they affect progression of paw and adiposity in African-American women versus non-Hispanic Caucasian women

Casey Sautter

Mentor: Chandy John
Project Title: Health Problems of International Adoptees

Faduma Sharif

Mentor: Kola Okuyemi
Project Title: Factors that Contributed to High Retention Rate in Quit Smoking Study in Homeless Population

Liz Yang

Mentor: Mark Kirstein
Project Title: Administration Sequence of OSI-906 and Gemcitabine in Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer