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Alabama School of Fine Arts and UAB PRISM student Oluwatosin Badewa presents her research, "A Novel Application of Artificial Intelligence to Assess Diversity in Surgical Performance," at the PRISM and SURE presentation reception in Wallace Tumor Institute on July 24. (Photo by Rebecca Turner)Alabama School of Fine Arts and UAB PRISM student Oluwatosin Badewa presents her research, "A Novel Application of Artificial Intelligence to Assess Diversity in Surgical Performance," at the PRISM and SURE presentation reception in Wallace Tumor Institute on July 24. (Photo by Rebecca Turner)

The UAB Department of Surgery Pre-College Research Internship for Students from Minority Backgrounds (PRISM) provides promising high school students who are interested in careers in healthcare and medicine with hands-on research experiences under the mentorship of surgeons and their peers. The internship provides students with the experience and knowledge that 1) allows them to explore medical careers, particularly in the field of surgery, 2) helps them understand the impact that research has in improving patient care and patient outcomes and 3) provides students with an experience that makes them more competitive for admission to college.

Five students are selected for the program annually. Over the eight-week experience, students will complete a mentored research project. Research projects often involve a team approach involving students at other levels, including undergraduate students and medical students. The experience also includes learning experiences, such as seminars and workshops, and supplemental activities, including clinical shadowing, to expose students to clinical practice and surgical careers.

Program Overview

The program aims to provide underrepresented high school students with an understanding and appreciation of the research process and how discoveries lead to improved patient care and patient outcomes. UAB surgeons, faculty and senior research staff mentor program participants. While research is the focus for the majority of the internship, students will also participate in clinical experiences. Students are required to present their research before the end of the program.

Important Dates

PLEASE NOTE: We are moving forward with our application process and program planning with the hope to run our full program in 2022. However, we will continue to monitor UAB guidance and restrictions related to COVID-19 and makes changes to the 2022 program to ensure the health and safety of our students as needed.

Application open date: November 27, 2023
Application deadline: February 16, 2024
Tentative Program Start Date: June 3, 2024
Tentative Program End Date: July 26, 2024


Students will receive a stipend in the amount of $1,000 for the successful completion of program requirements. This is a full-time commitment, and students are expected to be present from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, for the full eight-week program. Students are required to provide their own meals, transportation, housing and parking.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. High school junior status
  2. U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
  3. Student must belong to an underrepresented racial or ethnic group as defined by the National Institutes of Health Criteria (limited to African American, Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan or Native Pacific Islander)
  4. OR must be the in the first generation of their family intending to pursue college

How to Apply

  • PRISM Application Submission
  • PRISM Recommendation Submission
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Eligibility and Application Process

    What is the minimum GPA requirement?
    There is not a minimum GPA requirement to apply. Students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher will likely be more competitive, but the difficulty of their course load will also be considered. Therefore students with a lower GPA are still encouraged to apply.

    I am a senior. Am I eligible for the program?
    No, only students who are high school juniors at the time their applications are submitted will be considered for the program.

    Can I fax or email my application?
    No, applications must be submitted through the program website.

    My school cannot provide my transcript in PDF format. What should I do?
    A scanned image of the original is acceptable.

    What can I expect after I submit my application?
    Finalists will be notified and scheduled for interviews in March. Students who are accepted into the program will be notified of their acceptance by the end of March.

    I don’t want to do research, but I want to shadow a surgeon and learn some clinical skills. Can I still apply for the program?
    This is a research internship and participation in research is a primary component of this program. Participants will complete a research project, give a research presentation and attend research seminars. If you don’t want to do research, this program is not the right fit for you.

    I’m a sophomore. Can I apply?
    No. Please wait and apply once you are a junior.

    Why is the program limited to students from specific underrepresented racial and ethnic groups?
    Our program is designed to enhance participation of individuals who are nationally underrepresented in health-related sciences. Therefore, our program targets the following racial and ethnic groups as defined by federal agencies as underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

    I’m not planning to pursue a career in healthcare, but I might be interested in research. Would I still benefit from this program?
    The research experience you will gain from this program will focus on medicine and healthcare and will encourage you to consider careers in research and medicine. Anyone interested in a career in medical research or healthcare would benefit from this program and is welcome to apply.

    Program Focus and Requirements

    Would I have to develop my own research project?
    Students typically work on a team project with other students or help with ongoing projects. Students will work with their mentors and research teams at the beginning of the summer to define their research questions.

    Will I be able to shadow a surgeon?
    Research is the primary focus of the program. While the program has traditionally allowed for a limited shadowing experience, COVID-19 related restrictions continue to impact and restrict this component of the program. The ability to shadow will be dependent on the restrictions at the time of the program and any restrictions/permissions are subject to change on an ongoing basis.

    I have a family vacation planned in June. Can I be excused for a week?
    No. The program requires a full-time commitment for eight weeks. Vacations need to be planned before or after the program dates.

    I want to attend a summer camp but the dates conflict with this program. Can I be excused for a week?
    No. The program requires a full-time commitment for eight weeks. Only school REQUIRED activities will be considered for an excused absence and requests must be made in advance of the program start date. The maximum number of days that will be considered for an excused absence is two.

    Program Logistics

    Will housing be provided for participants?
    No. This is not a residential program. Students must have reliable transportation to and from UAB each day. Remote parking is available for students who will drive to campus at a cost of approximately $25 per month.

    Will meals be provided?
    No. Students are responsible for bringing or purchasing their own meals while on campus. Students should expect to use part of their summer stipend to pay for their meals. Occasionally (approximately 1 day per week) lunch will be provided with a research seminar.

    What is the dress code?
    Business casual is the expected dress code. Students should dress to impress. Khaki pants, dress pants, polo shirts, dress shirts, sweaters are acceptable. Jeans, t-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and other casual clothing are not acceptable.


Please contact SurgSummerPrograms@uabmc.edu with questions.

Andrea Gillis, M.D.
Program Co-Director

Annabelle Fonseca, M.D., MHS
Program Co-Director