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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, Penn 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. Many participating students have continued on to medical and healthcare professional schools with the support and guidance of the Academic Associates 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 at HUP and PPMC is led by medical director, Benjamin Abella, MD, MPhil , while the program at CHOP is overseen by Joseph Zorc, MD, MSCE.

The CHOP and HUP/PPMC programs are typically offered during the fall, spring and summer semesters as a two-semester experience. During their first semester, students learn about active clinical studies and develop skills to screen potential participants, obtain informed consent where appropriate, interview participants, and collect study data. Students in good standing with the program are eligible to continue for a second semester, during which they have an opportunity to work individually with a faculty member and study coordinators on a specific research project. This provides 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. Interested students should be able to commit to at least two 6 hour shifts per week and attend the program orientation, lectures (3), periodic 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. Participants should accommodate time to complete the programs credentialing requirements (~4-6 weeks are required for hospital clearances). 

Program Studies

The HUP/PPMC and chop academic Associates Program each support 10-15 active research projects in their respective ED's. 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 disciplines around the hospital such as Trauma, Neurology, Ultrasound, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Biostatistics and Epidemiology.


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

How to Apply & Learn More

  Interested applicants should submit the completed Academic Associates Program Application  and a resume to the appropriate program coordinators:
  • Applicants interested in consideration for the HUP/PPMC Academic Associates Program should submit application materials to program coordinator Felix Fernandez-Penny (
  • Applications for the HUP/PPMC Academic Associates programs are currently closed. Please continue to check back for updates regarding the Fall 2021 cycle.  

    Please Note: At this time due to COVID-19, the HUP/PPMC Academic Associates Program is only able to accept applications from UPenn third and fourth-year undergraduates and Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate students. This policy is subject to change and will be revised on a rolling basis. 

  • Applicants interested in consideration for the CHOP Academic Associates Program should submit application materials to program coordinator Marlena Cook (
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