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Emory University School of Medicine Discovery Phase

Welcome to the Discovery Phase website. The Discovery Phase of the medical curriculum provides Emory medical students with the opportunity to conduct a hypothesis-driven research project while working closely with a faculty mentor. The project may draw from a wide variety of areas (clinical, translational or basic research, medical history, or health policy and more), however it must involve both medicine and the discovery or research process. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to renew their creative energies and explore in depth a new facet of medicine.

The Discovery Phase is a 5-month experience that follows the 18 months of Foundations in Medical Science and the Applications year of clinical clerkships. Prior to beginning the Discovery Phase, students often choose to complete Step II of the USMLE. Each student's schedule is unique during their Discovery/Translations period to allow for individual interests and goals. To facilitate this, there are several options for scheduling Discovery. These are described in detail on the Student page accessed at the button above. However, all Discovery work must be completed by the end of December 2020 and final papers are due mid-January 2021. During Discovery, medical students will work virtually full time on their projects with no other commitments except seminars or workshops relevant to their research. Students may spend one half-day per week of non-research related time in the clinic or OR, to maintain and develop their clinical skills.

Dr. Maureen Powers ( directs the Discovery Phase, together with a Medical Student Research Committee (MSRC) of Emory faculty. Beginning with the Class of 2019, a permanent database of research descriptions from approved mentors is maintained and available for students to search. New faculty will be added to the database after review of qualifications. See the Mentor page at the button above for more information on mentorship.

The majority of students will be engaged in projects that are part of the ongoing research of Emory University faculty. However, students may also choose to undertake research experiences elsewhere, either within the US or abroad.

Once a student identifies one or more mentors of interest, he or she should contact the faculty mentors and arrange a meeting to discuss a specific research project. Students may find a mentor independently, either at Emory or at another institution, but that mentor must submit their materials, be reviewed and approved before they may participate in Discovery. Once student and mentor commit to work together by signing a Student-Mentor contract, they will develop a two page research proposal detailing the basis for the project, the hypothesis to be tested, and the specific approach to be used. Research Proposals will be reviewed by the MSRC and, once accepted, the student is approved to begin Discovery.

At the completion of the Discovery project, students will, with the guidance of their mentor, write a final Discovery Research Paper of 8-10 pages in the format of a medical/scientific manuscript. Students who carry out a project in the medical humanities will prepare a final paper in an appropriate format for their field, agreed upon between student, mentor and the Discovery Director. Final Papers will be reviewed by the MSRC who will return comments and a final numerical score. All graduating medical students will present their research as either a talk or poster at Medical Student Research Day to be held in April 2021 during the Capstone course.

Some students may opt to do a full year of research or to apply for a yearly research fellowship program such as the NIH Medical Scholars program or other fellowships. In such cases, the student will be considered to be doing "Extended Discovery". Students will receive credit for 5 months of Discovery as part of their fellowship or research year. Requirements of Discovery will apply, such as the Research Proposal, Final Paper and presentation at Medical Student Research Day. If you are considering one of these options, please contact Dr. Powers for more information.

Students may start their Discovery projects at the beginning any of the months of March through August 2020. The 5 months of Discovery may be formed of 5 consecutive months, a block of 4 months followed by 1 month at a later time to complete data analysis or may be divided into blocks of 3 + 2 months.

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Last Update: 08/10/2020