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The Academic Associates Program provides premedical and pre-health post-baccalaureate students an opportunity to engage in clinical and translational research activities in the Emergency Department (ED) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Medical Center, or the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The program provides a unique opportunity for students to interact with medical school faculty and staff in a high-acuity healthcare environment and develop relationships with faculty to help students prepare for a career in medicine. Many participating students have continued on to medical school with the support and guidance of program and emergency department staff. Former Academic Associates have benefited from their experience in the program, which has aided their candidacy and preparedness for medical school.

The Academic Associates Program is led by two medical directors, Benjamin Abella, MD, MPhil and Joseph Zorc, MD, MSCE. The program is offered during the fall, spring and summer semesters as a two-semester experience. In the first semester, students learn the clinical studies and develop skills to screen potential participants, obtain informed consent where appropriate, interview participants, and collect study data. Students in good standing from the first semester are eligible to continue in the second semester to work individually with a faculty member and study coordinators on a specific research project, giving students opportunities to input and process study data, manage patients outside of the ED environment, and assist with development and execution of studies.


The Academic Associates Program is a competitive research training program for students who are in good academic standing and serious about pursuing a career in healthcare. You should be able to commit to at least two 6 hour shifts per week and attend the orientation, program lecture, study trainings, and research meetings.

Immunization records (measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] and varicella [chickenpox]) and TB screening (PPD test or equivalent), and influenza (in season) are required.

Students must complete a web-based course sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania or the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the protection of human subjects in research. Students are encouraged to add this certification and their experience as an Academic Associate to their résumés.

Program Supported Studies

Currently the Academic Associates Program at HUP and PPMC is supports 15 Projects in the ED. Academic Associates provide support for studies at various levels including, identifying patients, administering study questionnaires and surveys, and obtaining informed consent, patient data, and biomarker samples. The program supports research in the Emergency Department, but also partners with research teams in various discipline around the hospital such as Trauma, Neurology, Ultrasound, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

Academic Associates are well integrated in the workflow in the ED and provide consistent coverage in the ED for screening and enrollment for active studies. Students in the program are able to gain firsthand research experience while learning about clinical medicine through interactions with faculty and residents.

Additional Benefits

  • Interaction with emergency medicine faculty, residents and medical students
  • Learn about clinical medicine
  • Letter(s) of recommendation by ED faculty
  • Career guidance
  • Potential to become involved in other research activities.

How to Apply & Learn More

Participation in the program requires advanced planning to complete the credentialing requirements (at least 4-6 weeks for hospital clearances). Interested applicants can submit the Academic Associates Program Application to the program coordinators Eliana Jolkovsky, AND Marlena Cook, cookm6@email.chop. Include a copy of your CV with your application. Also see our one page AA Quick Start Guide!  We are now accepting applications for summer 2020! The deadline to submit is March 31. 

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