MGH was awarded an R38 grant through the National Institute of Aging in 2023. Residents started the inaugural year in the MGH DAP StARR program started in July 2023. The program is led by co-led Program Directors Bradley Hyman, MD, PhD (Neurology), Christine Ritchie, MD, MPH (Medicine), and Jay Vyas, MD, PhD (Medicine) in tandem with Program Manager Rebecca Ward, PhD (Medicine) and an Internal Steering Committee including Sherri-Ann Burnett-Bowie, MD, MPH (Medicine), Andrea Foulkes, ScD (Statistics), and Bruce Yankner, MD, PhD (Neurology).
The overall goal of the MGH DAP StARR program in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), frailty, and multimorbidity in aging is to raise interest and preparedness of future physician-scientists to tackle the problems facing the aging population by providing a solid foundation to train residents to be productive, independent scientists who can advance studies in a broad range of areas from basic science to clinical investigation. The program brings together the Departments of Medicine and Neurology to provide a research mechanism for up to 2 interested residents per year.
Follow us on Twitter: @MGHResScholar
Mass General has been at the forefront of medical and scientific innovation. The research budget at MGH exceeded $1.2B in 2021, making Mass General home to the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. While this alone affords one a wide array of options, a key feature of the MGH DAP PSTP program enables those who have not had expansive research opportunities or would like to learn new techniques/enter a different field to have protected research time. This NIH-funded program will provide protected time for individuals interested in pursuing medical research who may not have had an opportunity to gain necessary skills in the past or are moving into a new area of research. ADRD, frailty, and multimorbidity continue to be areas of pivotal importance in healthcare research. This program emphasized methodologies, technologies, and biostatistics, specifically:  bioinformatics and statistics,  diagnostic and therapeutic development, and  implementation science. Participants will conduct research in an NIA-funded lab.
MGH DAP StARR Structure
MGH DAP StARR is designed to attract, train, and retain physicians in biomedical investigation at one of the most critical junctures of their career – residency training. To accomplish this, we provide the opportunity to devote 12 months to research during residency to provide the necessary mentorship and professional development critical to succeed as a physician-scientist.
Residents are expected to put 80% effort towards closely mentored, independent research projects in an NIA-funded lab, with 20% effort towards an ambulatory clinic to maintain clinical skills. At the beginning of the program, each participant will develop an individual development plan for their time in the program and beyond. Residents will meet weekly with their faculty mentor to discuss their research progress and professional development. In addition, Drs. Hyman, Ritchie, and Vyas and the Internal Steering Committee will meet twice annually with each resident.
Residents can tailor the program to develop research skills and professional development skills. All participants are required to complete Mass General Brigham Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) curriculum and at least one course in biostatistics, grant writing, and scientific communication. Participants can take courses offered through the Harvard Catalyst, MGH Office of Research Career Development, and Harvard Medical School. Participation in scientific meetings is highly encouraged at the institutional level (e.g., MGH Annual Resident-Research Day) and international level.
Resident scholars will participate in monthly meetings covering career development topics and providing a platform to present their research. Topics may include mentoring, advocating for your career, science communication (grants and manuscripts), leadership skills, team science, and conducting research as an MD.
Participants will receive a stipend for the research year according to the Mass General Brigham PGY scale. Additionally, selected residents will have $10,000 to use towards materials and coursework, as well as $1,500 for travel expenses. The program will start on July 1st and last a year, with the option to re-apply for a second year.
MGH Diseases of Aging StARR Program Resident Scholar Profiles
The Department of Medicine and Neurology’s DAP StARR at Massachusetts General Hospital recruits resident scholars from both departments to dedicate a year to research.
Participating Residents 2023-2024
Katherine (Katie) Jolin, MD (Department of Medicine)
- Project Title: The Use of Brain Imaging to Understand Large-Scale Brain Networks Implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease
- Mentor: Jorge Sepulcre-Bernad, MD, PhD (Radiology)
- Education: BA from Williams College (2015); MD from Tulane University School of Medicine (2022)
- Clinical and Research Interests: Clinical outcome research, machine learning and AI in radiology and associated outcomes, functional imaging
- Future Plans: Radiology residency
Jason C. You, MD, PhD (Department of Neurology)
- Project Title: Elucidating Network Dysfunction in Dementia with Lewy Bodies
- Mentors: Stephen Gomperts, MD, PhD and Alice Lam, MD, PhD (Neurology)
- Education: BA from University of Pennsylvania (2008); MD from Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University (2019); PhD from Thomas Jefferson University (2019)
- Clinical and Research Interests: Network-level mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment in neurodegenerative dementias; neurophysiology and advanced neuroimaging techniques
- Future Plans: Epilepsy and cognitive neurology fellowships
Applications are due in early December. Selected residents will be notified by February 1st. Per NIH requirements, applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. Residents in the Departments of Medicine are eligible for the program between their PGY1 and PGY2 years or PGY2 and PGY3 years. We will consider proposals from applicants who wish to do this at the end of their PGY3 year. Residents in the Departments of Neurology are eligible for the program following their PGY4 year, prior to entering fellowship.
- Please answer the following (250-word limit each)
- What motivates you to engage in research?
- What do you want to get out of the MGH DAP StARR program?
- If you know, with whom are you interested in working during your time in the program?
- Applicant CV
- Mentor letter – An email should be sent to the Program Manager from your proposed primary mentor(s) with the title “R38 DAP StARR Application for [resident’s name]”. This email should include the broad objectives of the general project you will be working on and milestones for the resident at the end of the research year. This should be no more than a paragraph. The email should be submitted by the application due date.
For more information, please see our FAQ below or contact Dr. Rebecca Ward via email
MGH DAP StARR Frequently Asked Questions
Who should consider this pathway?
The MGH DAP StARR is designed for internal medicine and neurology residents who are interested in pursuing research during residency in the areas of ADRD, frailty, and/or multimorbidity in aging.
What type of research can be supported?
The program spans the biomedical continuum to support residents pursuing basic science, pre-clinical research, pharmacokinetics, clinical, or outcomes research.
I am interested in research but do not know if I want to make it the focus of my future career. Is MGH DAP StARR right for me?
One of the goals of this program is to provide the opportunity for residents interested in research to assess whether a career in academic medicine is right for them. Candidates should have an interest to devote a full year to research-related activities.
What if I am interested in researching diseases outside of ADRD, frailty, and multimorbidity in aging?
This R38 program is funded through the National Institute of Aging (NIA). Thus, MGH DAP StARR residents must identify at least one research project during their research year relevant to their mission (e.g., aging).
What is the time commitment?
The program allows for 12 months of dedicated research time, during which time you will still be considered a resident. Starting July 1st, resident-investigators will commit 80% effort towards their research project, with the remaining 20% towards continuity clinic to preserve clinical skills. This program extends the overall time in residency by one year.
Is the program ABIM/ABPN approved?
Yes. We have received both ABIM and ABPN approval of the MGH DAP StARR.
How does the R38 differ from the ABIM short-track clinical investigator pathway (CIP)?
Short-tracking is an ABIM-approved mechanism in which two years of clinical residency in internal medicine is followed by a clinical year of subspecialty fellowship to enable more dedicated research time as a fellow. These individuals typically have MD, PhD degrees, or an MD with substantial research experience prior to residency. This MGH DAP StARR program is designed for residents who want to engage in research that may not have expansive prior experience. This program is open to both MD alone as well as MD, PhD candidates.
Will my salary change during the program?
No, the R38 salary is based on the Mass General Brigham PGY scale.
What are the other advantages to the MGH DAP StARR program?
The NIH announced a new K38 program to support research during fellowships. This funding opportunity will only be open to trainees who have been appointed to an R38 grant. Thus, appointment to the R38 will likely increase your chances of obtaining your own NIH funding in the future.
How do I apply?
Look for a formal call for applications in October. Applications will be available through REDCap. The deadline for applications will be early December.
I am an MGH resident from another department. Can I apply to be a resident-investigator through the MGH DAP StARR program?
While residents from other departments may be considered, we will need to ensure the resident’s programs/departments can provide the required support and confirm eligibility with their respective boards in their discipline.
I am interested in obtaining an MPH or other master’s degree relevant to medical research? Can I use this program to pursue this?
Per NIH guidelines, R38 funds cannot be used towards tuition for degree programs. However, R38 funds may be used to pursue structured training programs that provide a strong foundation to conduct research (e.g., courses in grant writing, methodologies, scientific communication, leadership workshops, etc.).
Am I eligible for extra shifts in the clinic?
Participating residents are still part of the residency program and, thus, are eligible to work extra shift if desired.
Whom should I contact if I still have questions?
Please send any additional questions regarding the MGH DAP StARR pathway to the Program Manager, Rebecca Ward, PhD
Our Faculty and Staff
Bradley Hyman, Co-Program Director
Christine Ritchie, Co-Program Director
Jay Vyas, Contact Program Director
Rebecca Ward, Program Manager
We have 64 mentors that have agreed to participate in the MGH DAP StARR program. Our mentors span the MGH Departments of Medicine, Neurology, Anesthesia, Radiology, Psychiatry, and Regenerative Medicine, as well as the Hebrew Senior Life Institute of Aging. If there is a faculty research mentor with relevant research interests that is not listed, you may propose the individual to program leadership.