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Policy on Resident Research


  • Residents are provided an opportunity to participate in dedicated research after their PGY3 year.
  • Residents usually spend 2 years (1 year for plastic surgery residents, and occasionally 3 years)
    engaged in full time research.
  • The Department of Surgery Research Committee advises residents about selection of research
    training programs, including didactic training, monitors residents’ progress, and tracks the
    success of the training programs.

Selection of Training Program


June/July PGY1 Year

Peter G. Stock, M.D., Ph.D meets with incoming interns to discuss research objectives and policies; residents discuss their research and career interests. Dr. Stock assigns clinical advisors with the goal of mentoring residents both in their clinical experiences and in preparing for research years. 

Throughout PGY1 Year

Residents meet regularly with clinical advisors to explore research interests and get involved with small research projects.

Throughout PGY2-3 Years

In collaboration with their clinical and/or research advisors, residents prepare at least one clinical or research paper/abstract for submission each academic year.

Summer PGY2 Year

Residents present preliminary research plans to Research Committee, describing possible directions, research advisors being considered, and selecting one of the following research pathways: 

Residents are assigned two Research Committee members who, in conjunction with their clinical and/or research advisor, oversee residents' progress in developing a focused research plan and in applying for and obtaining funding. 

Fall PGY2 Year

Residents finalize research advisors and prepare preliminary grant/funding applications. 

Winter PGY2 Year

Residents attend preliminary Grant-Writing Workshop with Pam Derish. The workshop introduces residents to the grant-writing process and provides an overview of the resources and tools available in obtaining funding. Residents are expected to prepare a draft of the Specific Aims section of a funding application prior to participating in the workshop. 

May PGY2 Year

Residents present an update to Research Committee, including overview of research plans, finalized research advisors, planned funding/grant applications, and a summary of their Specific Aims (prepared during the Grant Writing Workshop). 

Fall/Winter PGY3 Year

Residents apply for research funding.

March PGY3

Residents present finalized research plans and funding to Research Committee

December - Research Years

Residents present research during Applicant Interviews.

Spring - Research Years

Residents submit abstracts and present their work during annual Resident Research Symposium

Responsibilities Of Research Mentors

Research mentors are expected to: 

  • Maintain an active research program that provides a supportive environment for training residents in research.
  • Provide funding for the research program, which may include supporting the resident’s research activities and salary if extramural and departmental funds are unavailable for salary (see Policy of Resident Funding in Research).
  • Discuss with the resident at the beginning of the training program the criteria for a successful research experience, including goals and expectations, requirements to present at local, national and international meetings, and publications.
  • Devote adequate time to mentor and train the resident in research.
  • Provide resources (e.g. technical support) to ensure that the resident is trained in the practical aspects of research.
  • Assist the resident in applying for extramural funding.

Responsibilities Of Clinical Mentors

Clinical mentors are expected to:

  • Provide guidance about relating research training to the resident’s long-term clinical careers. During PGY1-3 years, clinical advisors will have primary responsibility in helping residents to explore research interests, getting them involved in small research projects, and providing resources and guidance in focusing research plans. 
  • Ensure that residents are successful in preparing at least one clinical or research paper/abstract manuscript for submission each academic year (starting with PGY2) leading up to their dedicated research time.

Responsibilities of Residents

Research residents are expected to:           

  • Commit to full time participation in the research training program.
  • Discuss with their research mentor at the beginning of the training program their plans for outside clinical activities (e.g. moonlighting).
  • Participate in other scholarly activities (e.g. projects with other laboratories) after discussion with their research mentor. 

Monitoring the Progress of Residents 

  • In collaboration with  Research Committee, clinical advisors of PGY1-3 residents will ensure that residents are developing focused research plans and have made sufficient efforts to apply for and obtain funding. Advisors should provide Dr. Peter Stock with regular reports on their assigned residents' progress.
  • All residents are required to submit abstracts for Residents’ Research Day every year.

Formal Evaluations 

  • The Research Committee will formally evaluate residents’ presentations at the Research
    Planning Meeting.
  • Research advisors are required to submit biannual performance reviews (in January and July each year) to the Education Office. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to apply for grants?

Yes, grant writing is an integral component of the training program. Grants should be written with guidance from the research mentor. The Department of Surgery Scientific Publications Office (Pamela Derish) provides guidance in scientific writing. The Department of Surgery Contracts and Grants Office provides guidance in the nuts-and-bolts of grant submission.

What happens if I don’t apply for grants?

You will not be allowed to participate in a research training program.

How many grants do I need to apply for?

Residents typically apply for multiple grants. Usually, the same application can be submitted to several agencies (although funding from only one agency is allowed – unless permitted by the funding agency (sometimes one grant will fund salary and another will fund research costs).

What happens if I am unsuccessful at obtaining grant funding?

You will be eligible to be considered for funding from the Department of Surgery or your research mentor. See Policy on Lab Selection and Funding.

Can I moonlight?

Yes, provided that this does not detract from your training program, which is your primary responsibility. Moonlighting must be discussed with your research advisor at the start of your training program.

What if I want to do something for which there is no grant funding available?

This is problematic and needs to be disucssed on an individual basis.

What if I want to obtain an additional degree?

This is possible at UCSF and elsewhere, but you will usually have to fund this activity yourself.

Will the department fund research at a different institution?

No. See Policy on Lab Selection and Funding

What do I do if I have problems – if I have selected the wrong research program or advisor, or if my research is going nowhere?

First, immediately contact the research resident ombudsman, Peter G. Stock, M.D., Ph.D. If so desired, these discussions will be kept in the strictest confidence. The Research Committee can intercede on your behalf and help you and your advisor negotiate suitable outcomes. Under exceptional circumstances, the Research Committee can reassign you to an alternative training program.

Revised 3/6/2019

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