Magazine Feature

ASCEND: Pre-med students gain research experience through fellowship program

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, fewer than 42 percent of applicants were accepted into U.S. medical schools in 2013. In Colorado, the competition is much tougher: The 2013 acceptance rate at the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine, Colorado’s only not-for-profit medical school, was less than 3 percent.

Through a gift to ASCEND, Dewey Long (BS ’62) and his wife, Debbie Long (BA ’65), are giving students interested in entering the medical field a chance to surpass the competition. The Longs’ gift created an endowed fund that supports a fellowship program allowing pre-med students to perform research as undergraduates. The fund also supports a lecture series designed to introduce students to physician scientists who not only have clinical practices, but also perform medical research.

Under the direction of Robert Dores, professor of biological sciences and director of DU’s pre-professional/Allied Health Advising Center, the Long Fellowship Program gives students the opportunity to strengthen their investigative and observation skills and to determine as undergraduates if they want to pursue a career in the allied health field.

“Whenever possible, I give students the chance to work on original research projects,” Dores says. “This is an extremely useful exercise to helping future physicians become better scientists.”

Performing original research has several advantages for students. Successful projects can lead to honors theses and, in some cases, publication in life science journals. Students also contribute to Dores’ research in endocrinology, for which he has earned international recognition.

“Our students already have a high probability for success, but this gives them a chance to stand out above the crowd,” Dores says.

Since the fellowship program began in 2010, six of the students selected for the Long Fellowship have had their work published, and seven students have been accepted to or are enrolled in medical or dental school.

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