iStock 97075663 XXLARGE cropThe Surgery Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) offered by the Department of Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) provides promising undergraduate students who are interested in a medical career with research experience and knowledge that: 1) increases their competitiveness for admission to medical school and 2) encourages them to consider careers in academic medicine, particularly the field of surgery. The program builds on a solid foundation of undergraduate research that already exists at UAB. 

Up to 10 students are selected for our program annually. Over the 8-week experience, participants complete a mentored research project. Participants are mentored by UAB faculty and senior research staff on research projects. Basic science, clinical, and outcomes research experiences are available. Research projects often involve a team approach with trainees at other levels involved (including high school students and medical students). The experience also includes learning experiences through seminars and workshops, and supplemental activities including clinical shadowing to expose students to clinical practice and surgical careers.

Students learn the rewards of combining research with clinical practice. They gain an understanding of the importance of basic, translational, and clinical research discoveries to improving patient care and outcomes. Participating students are encouraged to write an abstract and submit to a national meeting (Academic Surgical Congress). Students also present their research at the UAB Summer Undergraduate Expo and an event in the Department of Surgery.

Important Dates

Application Deadline: 5 p.m. CST, February 15, 2019
Latest Notification of Acceptance Date: Late March 2019
Program Begins: June 3, 2019
Program Ends: July 26, 2019

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Strong interest in research as well as a career in medicine.
  2. Sophomore or junior undergraduate student status preferred.
  3. U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status required.
  4. Grade point average of at least 3.2 recommended.

Students who are from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups as defined by the National Institutes of Health are encouraged to apply, including the following groups: African American, Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan or Native Pacific Islander. First-generation undergraduate students are also encouraged to apply.

What Past Participants Said of the Program

“This program developed the interest I already had in surgery and has given me guidance for my career goals. There really isn't another program that I can think of that offers research in an area that I am so interested in, and allows me to work so closely with a surgeon to shadow, publish and present.”

— Ben B., SURE Class of 2017

“The SURE program really helped me gain knowledge and experiences that I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere else as an undergrad. It was really an amazing summer!”

— Mary Glenn W., SURE Class of 2017

How to Apply

SURE Application Submission

Download the fillable PDF application for SURE and submit it here with the rest of your PDF materials.

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SURE Recommendation Submission

Submit your recommendation letter for the SURE program here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility and Application Process

I’m a sophomore. Can I apply?
Yes. Preference is given to juniors, but you are welcome to apply and can reapply in the following year if you are not selected.

Is preference given to students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups?
Diversity is a priority for the SURE program and the program strives to accept students from a wide variety of racial and ethnic groups.

Program Focus and Requirements

I need to take some summer courses. Can I still participate in the program?
SURE requires a full-time commitment from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Participants may not be excused for classes during these hours. Evening and online classes that can be completed outside of these hours are acceptable.

Will I be able to shadow a surgeon?
Research is the primary focus of the program, but students will be allowed to shadow for a maximum of 4 days.

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.

Program Logistics

Will I be paid if I am selected?
Yes. Participants will receive a stipend of $2500 for completion of the program.

Will housing be provided for participants?
Students from outside of the Birmingham area will have the option to stay in campus dorms.

If I am commuting, where can I park?
Remote parking is available for students who will drive to campus at a cost of less than $15/month.

Will meals be provided?
No. Students are responsible for 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.

Will transportation be provided for participants?
No, students are responsible for their own transportation to UAB.

Questions about how to apply? Email Rebecca Turner at


If you have questions about the program, please contact:

Rebecca Turner
Program Coordinator
(205) 934-2592

Rachael Lancaster, M.D.
Program Co-director

Herbert Chen, M.D.
Program Co-director