ISP Handbook

Project Resources

The first step in the ISP process is finding an interesting project that may be accomplished in the time available. Students may wish to identify a project in a field in which they plan to specialize, but this is not essential. Some students may already have a project in mind. For others, choosing a project means choosing a faculty person with whom the student would like to work. Students are encouraged to look at previously completed projects to improve their understanding of the ISP requirements and to avail themselves of the resources listed below.

Resources for Getting Started

  1. A limited number of National Institutes of Health (NIH) short-term research grants are available for the summer following the first year. The work students do during the summer may serve as the foundation for the ISP. Please note that a separate proposal for the ISP must be submitted before the ISP component is begun.
  2. Grant and fellowship opportunities from other campus departments and outside organizations are often available. As with the NIH grants, these opportunities may serve as the foundation for an ISP (acceptance as an ISP is not automatic - a proposal must be approved in advance).  Be sure to check your email and the Web Portal forums for announcements. 
  3. The Electives Committee has compiled a list of faculty who have agreed to act as ISP Department Liaisons. These UCSD faculty are available to assist you if you are interested in doing an ISP in their department and need more information about faculty research interests.
    ISP Department Liaisons
    Department External Site / New Window
    • Division
    Contact Phone
    Anesthesiology Martin Marsala, M.D. 619-543-5446
    Dermatology Richard Gallo, M.D., Ph.D. 858-822-4608
    Emergency Medicine Gary Vilke, M.D. 619-543-6463
    Family / Prev Medicine Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D. 858-534-0511
    Cardiology Barry Greenberg, M.D. 619-543-7751
    Gen. Internal Medicine Neil Farber, M.D. 858-657-6946
    Geriatrics Allison Moore, M.D. pending
    Hematology/Oncology Sanford Shattil, M.D. 858-822-6425
    Infectious Diseases Sharon Reed, M.D. 619-543-6146
    Physiology Ellen Breen, Ph.D. 858-822-5859
    Neurosciences Jim Brewer, M.D., Ph.D. 858-534-1237
    Obstetrics, Gynecology
    and Reproductive Sciences
    Andrew Hull, M.D. 619-543-2384
    Ophthalmology Robert Weinreb, M.D. 858-534-8824
    Orthopaedics Douglas Chang, M.D., Ph.D 619-543-2694
    Pathology Vera Vavinskaya, MD 858-657-5327
    Pediatrics Ken Lyons Jones, M.D. 858-246-1703
    Pharmacology Joan Heller Brown, M.D. 858-534-2595
    Psychiatry Neal Swerdlow, M.D., Ph.D. 619-543-6270
    Physics / Engineering Pending  
    Nuclear Medicine Carl Hoh, M.D. 619-543-6632
    General Joel Baumgartner, M.D. 858-534-1301
    Cardiothoracic Stuart Jamieson, M.D. 858-657-7777
    Otolaryngology Jeffrey Harris, M.D., Ph.D. 619-543-7896
    Urology Christopher Kane, M.D. 619-543-2626

  4. The members of the Electives Committee are responsible for reviewing and approving ISP proposals. Students with questions about a potential ISP or how to prepare a proposal may wish to contact the Chair of the Electives Committee. The current Electives Committee Chair is Haydee Ojeda-Fournier, M.D.,Department of Radiology.
  5. An on-line ISP - Student Opportunities Database (Web Portal account required) describes research and areas of interest for faculty members who are willing to work with students on their Independent Study Projects.
  6. Biostatistics support - Please contact the ISP Coordinator, 858-534-1486, for potential resources.
  7. UCSD SOM Department websites External Site / New Window, often contain their own faculty research areas/interests.
  8. An ISP orientation is offered early in the calendar year.  This orientation gives an overview of the ISP process and resources, as well as the opportunity to ask questions about the ISP.
  9. UC Library Search has a listing of most of the ISPs going back into the 1980s.
  10. Most ISPs are in print at the WongAvery Library up to the 2010 submissions and then were transitioned to digital submissions the following year.
  11. Most of the projects will require a comprehensive review of the current literature.  The librarians at the Biomedical Library are available to help construct expert search strategies for UCSD licensed databases and web resources.  Contact the reference librarians at to set up an appointment.
  12. Samples of ISP proposals are viewable within this handbook and a list of all previous ISP titles is available for perusal in the ISP Coordinator's office (Click here for past years' project titles and chairs).
  13. There are also student representatives from each class on the Electives Committee who are available to help you.  The ISP Coordinator, 858-534-1486, is available to answer preliminary questions. Sean Evans, M.D., Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, is also available for advice.  In addition, you may want to speak with fourth-year medical students who have completed their ISPs or are working on them.

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