Medical Student Research Leaves Mark on VP&S

More than 700 VP&S medical students have completed scholarly projects since the program's inception

February 4, 2019

For close to 10 years, a scholarly project has been a graduation requirement for medical students at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the program has been a resounding success. The scholarly project program, launched in 2009 with the Class of 2013, gives students the opportunity to follow their passion in medicine, ask innovative questions, and contribute to academic knowledge. 

Columbia VP&S Scholarly Projects Program

Medical education trains students to be physicians, says Jonathan Amiel, MD, associate dean for curricular affairs and associate professor of psychiatry at VP&S. Scholarly projects add to that education by “asking students to think about areas that are unexplored or insufficiently explored and actually advance the field.”

"We give them a tremendous amount of leeway in their selection of projects. Seeing them leave their mark on VP&S and contribute their work and their scholarship to the community is incredibly powerful.”

Of the 707 students who have completed scholarly projects, the majority conducted clinical research. Student satisfaction with the program has been high, with more than 90 percent of students saying their project helped them advance their critical thinking skills, think creatively, and better appreciate life-long learning. For many, the experience sparks an interest in academic medicine.

“I always wanted to be an inventor,” says Mohammed Diop’20, whose scholarly project explores how a muscle inside the ear affects sound transmission.

“Working in an engineering lab [with Elizabeth Olson, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering and auditory biophysics] has been a great opportunity not only to learn what research is, but also to understand the challenges of research and to challenge myself to think critically all the time.” 


VP&S student Mohammed Diop'20 is conducting his scholarly project research in the biomedical engineering lab of Elizabeth Olson, PhD.