Medical students who have been newly accepted to our medical school have the opportunity to spend their summers as part of research projects. A group of faculty research mentors provide a range of research in which students can participate through the Medical Student Summer Research Program.  View the mentors and their biosketches below - a description of their current research projects can be found on the research mentor page.

Name  Research Area Research Location
Khosrow Rezvani  Cancer - Our lab is focused on understanding the dysregulated pathways that are responsible for the poor prognosis of CRC progression in obese and overweight patients. We are aiming toward the development of anti-cancer drugs that selectively protect and treat obesity-associated CRC. We particularly focus on the PI3K/AKT pathway which contributes to both obesity and CRC. Lee Med, Vermillion
Paola Vermeer
Lab Website
Cancer - Current projects are focused on defining the role of exosomes in tumor innervation in cancer. Sanford Research, Sioux Falls
 Adam Stys Cardiology - Current projects are data mining from our cath lab database, review of literature & participation in writing discussion part for the manuscript Sanford Cardiovascular Institute, Sioux Falls
 Tomasz Stys Cardiology - Current project is data mining of the database, preparing data for statistician, reviewing literature & participating in writing the discussion part of the abstract/manuscript Sanford Cardiovascular Institute, Sioux Falls
Xuejun Wang
Lab Website
Cardiovascular - Summer projects look to use unique cell lines and mouse models study the impact of PKA-mediated proteasome functioning. USD, Vermillion
Alexei Savinov
Lab Website
 Diabetes - 1. VTCN1 pathway and its involvement in hyper-activation of autoreactive T cells during diabetogenesis. 2. Modulation of cross-presentation of islet antigens by pancreatic endothelium as a potential therapeutic strategy to interfere with intra-islet homing of autoreative T cells. 3. Engineering and validation of a novel, antigen-specific cellular therapy: Chimeric T regulatory cells for type 1 diabetes treatment. Sanford Medical Center, Sioux Falls
Andrea Liebl
Lab Website
Epigenetics - In this project, a student will gain molecular techniques by extracting DNA from blood samples and conduct PCR to generate microsatellite fragments. This data will be compared to known behavioral phenotypes of adult individuals to determine whether or not relatedness to offspring is an important driver of helping behavior. Churchill-Haines Lab, Vermillion
Andrea Liebl
Lab Website
Epigenetics - A student will gain molecular techniques by extracting DNA from blood samples and using quantitative PCR to measure telomere length from multiple samples taken during early life. Changes in telomere length among samples will be determined and compared to adult behavioral decisions. Churchill-Haines Lab, Vermillion
Victor Huber Immunology - Current projects: 1. Vaccine study with two distinct vaccine candidates to determine the breadth of vaccine-induced immunity that can be achieve; 2. Defining the impact an influenza virus protein on host immune responses within our super-infection model. Vermillion
 Victor Huber Hepatitis C Virus in American Indian population. Current project - Build patient panels using ICare data-gathering program to identify patients needing follow-up. We are also looking to integrate our panels with primary care physicians.  Varies
Henry Travers Infectious Disease Prevalence in Sioux Falls from 1880-1940 Wegner Library, Sioux Falls
Henry Travers Historical Evolution of Concepts of Medical Professionalism Wegner Library, Sioux Falls
Henry Travers Historical Scholarship - Any topic of historical interest can be investigated. A publishable report of the investigation is a requirement. Wegner Library, Sioux Falls
Henry Travers Historical Study of the Evolution of USD to a 4-year Medical School Wegner Library, Sioux Falls
Jose Pietri Medical Entomology - the project is focused on the bacterium Bartonella quintana, which is the causative agent of trench fever. We are interested in understanding how adaptation of the bacterium to each insect hosts alters its virulence upon transmission to human hosts. Lee Med building, Vermillion
Jose Pietri Medical Entomology - the second project is focused on understanding the life cycle of relapsing-fever spirochets (Borrelia spp.) in the bed bug. This project will involve the use of microscopy techniques to visualize the progression of spirochete infections in bed bugs over time.
Lee Med building, Vermillion
Lance Lee
Lab Website
Motile Cilia Disorders - Current projects are focused on identifying the molecular & cellular mechanism that regulate ciliary motility. Sanford Research, Sioux Falls.
Kevin Francis 
Lab Website
Neuroscience - 1. Determine how lipid metabolism regulates stem cell fate and functionality. 2. Define the impact of lipid metabolism on cytoskeletal stability and remodeling. 3. Define how changes in cell metabolism impact expression and localization of responsive proteins. 4. Characterize the development and functional impact of BDNF insufficiency on human neurodevelopment. 5. Determine the impact of lipid homeostasis on cellular transport mechanisms and signaling. Sanford Research Center, Sioux Falls
Samuel Sathyanesan  Neuroscience - Neuropsychiatric diseases, neurovascular biology, drug development and trophic factor signaling  USD, Vermillion
 Muslim Atiq Outcomes in endoscopy
Gastrointestinal oncology
Cancer epidemiology
Pancreatic cancer
Sanford Gastroentrology/
Randolph Faustino
Lab Website
 Pediatrics - Project 1: Stem cell modeling of cardiac disorders. Project 2: Cardiac disease and nuclear envelop biology. Project 3: Mapping cardiac molecular networks. Sanford Research, Sioux Falls 
Benson Hsu Pediatrics - Summer students will do an in depth review of existing projects (nationally) currently in the field. Students will independently create a behavioral economics project (survey based) at the undergraduate medical student level. Sioux Falls
DenYelle Baete Kenyon
Lab Website
Pediatrics - Current projects are 1. understanding how Native students' social support networks can predict their persistence in college. 2. Teen pregnancy & STI prevention for Native American Youth. Sanford HSC Sioux Falls
Ping Ye & Amy Elliott
Lab Website
Pediatrics - This project will investigate the association between prenatal alcohol and smoking exposure with sudden infant death syndrome, stillbirth, and other outcomes. Avera Research Institute, Sioux Falls
 Hong Zheng  Physiology - 1. We are interested in investigating the interactions of neuro-humoral components and adipokines regulation of cardiovascular functions in the cardiovascular disease. 2. To indicate that increased proteases in the renal tubular fluid may contribute to the enhanced renal epithelial sodium channel activity, providing a novel mechanistic insight for sodium retention commonly observed in chronic heart failure. Lee Med, Vermillion

How to Apply

The program is eight weeks long, from May 20 to July 19, and has openings for eight students. Students receive a $5,000 stipend and the hosting lab receives up to $2,000 for supplies.

To apply, students need to choose a research mentor and submit an application to the Medical Student Research Committee. Applications are due April 22.

Apply Now

For more information contact the Medical Student Research Committee