StARR Program

The UCSF Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) Program seeks to recruit, support and train outstanding clinical residents with the potential to become successful clinical and translational researchers and advance understanding of cardiovascular or pulmonary health conditions. 

With funding from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), StARR supports UCSF residents for a contiguous year (July to June), in which residents devote 80% time to research and research-related training, with the remaining 20% of their time spent on patient care.

The goals of the StARR program are to:  

  • Guide promising residents in obtaining the methodological, analytic, and collaborative research skills they need to advance their research and career goals
  • Create and maintain effective, influential, and long-lasting mentor relationships for residents interested in research
  • Support residents in conducting high-impact research to improve prevention, detection, or management of cardiovascular or pulmonary health conditions
  • Enable residents to compete for other forms of support to help them pursue future careers in clinical or translational research

The program builds upon a longstanding, successful Resident Research Training Program within the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Training program, which has helped more than a thousand UCSF residents obtain introductory research skills and pursue and present short-term research projects in the past decade.

For more information about the StARR program see:

Research, Mentorship and Training

Research and mentorship

The StARR program supports a broad range of clinical and translational research, including early translational research involving human tissues, clinical epidemiology and interventional studies, population science research, and implementation or dissemination research designed to translate scientific discoveries into real-world settings.

Residents work with the StARR program directors to identify an appropriate portfolio of research relevant to their research and career goals, with an emphasis on scientific rigor and innovation, clinical or public health relevance, and feasibility within the context of residency.

Prior to the StARR year, residents identify a primary research mentor and associate project mentor with the guidance of the StARR program directors. More than 50 senior and mid-level faculty have already expressed interest in serving as mentors for StARR residents, but other faculty mentors may be identified with the help of the program directors.

Training experiences

The StARR program supports rigorous methodological training to enable residents to design and carry out high-impact research studies, compete successfully for future research support, and launch future successful careers as clinician investigators.

Residents who do not already have methodological training in research are encouraged to pursue structured training during their StARR year, such as the one-year Advanced Training in Clinical Research  program or the Implementation Science certificate program.

Residents who already have substantive methodologic training should work with the StARR program directors to identify more selective training experiences appropriate to their research and career goals.

StARR scholars also take part in multidisciplinary career development workshops to improve their scientific writing skills, foster their ability to work effectively within research teams, prepare them to give effective research presentations and foster their grant-writing skills.


StARR Support and Benefits

The StARR program covers 80% of residents' salaries during their StARR year and provides funds to support didactic training in research. The other 20% of residents' salaries, as well as their benefits and housing bonuses, are covered by their residency programs or departments.


Resident scholars also have access to additional research support funds, travel/conference funds, workspace in UCSF Mission Hall and support from statisticians in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics.


Successful StARR graduates are also eligible to apply for new Transitions from StARR K38 grants from the NHLBI that can provide future salary and resarch support after completion of StARR. Graduates can carry these NIH funds on to other insitutions, if desired.


Timing of StARR support

Residents may puruse StARR at different times in their postdoctorate training depending on their clinical background.

  • Medicine and Pediatrics: Residents pursue StARR either through an additional (PGY4) year of residency (via the "extended residency" StARR pathway) or by substituting a StARR year (via the short-track StARR pathway) for the usual PGY3 year.
  • Anasthesia: Residents pursue StARR during either their PGY4 or PGY5 year as part of the residency's Research Scholars Track, which also involves shorter periods of research earlier in residency. 


Eligibility and Selection

To be eligible for the UCSF StARR program, residents should:

  • Be currently enrolled in a UCSF residency (Non-UCSF residents are not eligible to join the UCSF StARR program.)
  • Show evidence of interest in clinical or translational research (Prior research experience in cardiovascular or pulmonary health is desirable but not required.)
  • Have a strong interest in conducting research related to an aspect of cardiovascular or pulmonary health
  • Belong to a residency program or department that will co-sponsor their participation, including 20% salary and benefits during the StARR year

Of note, the departments of Medicine, Pediatrics and Anesthesia have already confirmed their co-support of medicine, pediatrics and anesthesia residents selected for StARR.

Scholar selection process

Scholar selection is designed to identify the most promising candidates as well as guide candidates in identifying mentors and developing preliminary research plans before the start of the StARR year. This approach ensures that residents begin the StARR program with at least one committed research mentor and a preliminary research plan already in place.

Residents are encouraged to contact co-Program Director Dr. Alison Huang for a preliminary informal consultation prior to submitting an application. Following this, promising candidates will pursue a two-stage application process:

Stage 1

During stage 1, during the summer or fall before the proposed StARR year (before November 1 preferred), applicants submit:

  • A one-page cover letter describing their clinical and research background, any prior research training, and current or future research interests
  • A resume or curriculum vitae emphasizing any past research training, experience, or products
  • A brief statement of eligibility/support from the applicant’s residency director (see template)

Preferred format is PDF.

Stage 2

Following review of materials from stage 1, promising applicants will be guided in preparing additional materials by March 4 before the start of the StARR year, to ensure they have viable StARR research programs.

An online form will be sent to applicants to complete and attach required documents. All documents must be in PDF format. These include:

  • A letter of support from the proposed primary research mentor confirming interest in and ability to mentor the resident. If an additional secondary mentor or co-mentor has been identified, the applicant should include a brief letter from the co-mentor as well.
  • 2-3-page research proposal synopsis describing the objectives, methods and expected outcomes of a proposed project (with input from the primary mentor)
  • An NIH-style biosketch summarizing education/training, research goals and any past contributions to science or research support

Before appointments are confirmed, stage 2 applications are reviewed by the Program Directors and Steering/Advisory Committee, who consider the qualifications of the resident, the experience or resources of the mentor, and the appropriateness of the research plan.

Residents from internal medicine or pediatrics seeking to pursue StARR via the short-track pathway are strongly encouraged to make preliminary inquiries by the end of internship, to ensure that they can pursue a program of clinical care and research that will lead to board eligibility.