High School Research Opportunities

Short-Term Research Experience Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP)

The STEP-UP program provides an opportunity for high school and undergraduate students to conduct biomedical research for eight to ten weeks in the summer in labs throughout the country. 

The purpose is to increase the number of young scientists among ethnic minorities who are involved in biomedical research, with an emphasis on the areas of diabetes, digestive and kidney diseases. There is a critical shortage of minorities in biomedical research and the health professions (Hispanic/Latino, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders and Alaskan Native Population). As a result, critical insights and perspectives from these groups are lacking in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the growing and important field of biomedical research and health science.

STEP-UP is a collaborative effort between the NIH and CDU, as well as University of California, San Francisco, University of Hawaii and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. While the NIH provides funding and program oversight, the day-to-day coordination of the program is handled by the four Program Coordinators at these institutions.
While some local students learn at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, it is a national program and we make arrangements for students around the country to get connected to a research laboratory near their home. Each student is paired with an established researcher and may be assigned to a research team. Students will work with staff on a specific research project such as, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and other health related topics. 


  • Learn what biomedical research entails by being actively involved in a project.
  • Learn laboratory and research protocols.
  • Learn how to develop a hypothesis and then to systematically approach how to prove or disprove it.
  • Train with faculty and staff in laboratory, research and administrative procedures required for conducting academic research.
  • Be a member of a team; understand collective responsibility.
  • Prepare and present research findings at the annual NIDDK research symposium at the NIH in Bethesda Maryland.

Program Highlights:

  • Full-time research experience with flexible starting dates, determined by location.
  • Summer research stipend.
  • Students are assigned to one of four high school STEP-UP Coordinating Centers to help organize and monitor their summer research experience.
  • Students are paired with experienced research mentors at institutes throughout the nation.
  • Students are encouraged to choose a research institute and/or mentor near their hometown or within commuting distance of their residence. Students are not required to relocate in order to conduct their summer research.
  • Students receive training in the responsible conduct of research.
  • All-paid travel expenses to the Annual High School STEP-UP Research Symposium held on NIH’s Main Campus in Bethesda, Maryland--gives students the opportunity to conduct a formal oral and poster research presentation.

Mrs. Dolores Caffey-Fleming
Program Coordinator
(323) 249-5716
Additional Information:

Students Training in Research Involving Disparity Elimination (Project STRIDE)

In response to the critical shortage of minorities in biomedical research and the health professions, the overarching goal of Project STRIDE is to increase the number of underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students in the pipeline who are committed to research careers in the health sciences. Improving the nation’s number of minority clinicians and researchers is a crucial component to eliminating health disparities, especially given that minority researchers and physicians are more likely to work in minority communities than their nonminority counterparts. STRIDE aims to increase the diversity and quality of the research workforce specifically in regard to the ongoing nationwide effort to better understand the complex health-related needs of low-income, medically underserved populations and thereby, ultimately, reducing disparities in health care accessibility, quality and outcomes.

Project STRIDE will also provide an in-depth health science immersion experience to underrepresented high school students, though all program enrollees will be primarily from King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, Health Sciences Academy and other high schools in the Watts community of South Los Angeles.

The STRIDE education and training experience includes exposure to critical methodologies and principles of biomedical and clinical research in disease areas identified by Healthy People 2020 as disproportionately prevalent among underserved minority and low income communities. This clinical research program will require the student to work full-time with an assigned mentor on a research project of their interest. Students will write an abstract on the project, create a poster and give a presentation at a Research Day. Participants will receive a stipend for their involvement.
This is a summer clinical research program for 11th and 12th grade high school students. Students may be in the 11th grade at the time of submitting the application and must have completed the 11th grade to start in the program.

Learn more at: http://www.projectstridecdu.net/