Research Scholars Program

  • Work with Top Researchers

    Gain hands-on experience in the laboratory, working with a mentor on your own research project

  • Gain Clinical Experience

    Spend time shadowing faculty in the clinic and operating room

  • Receive Mentorship and Future Support

    Weekly meetings with faculty, guest lectures, and continued mentoring after the program help with your career development

Launched in the summer of 2021, the Harvard Ophthalmology Research Scholars Program offers first-year medical students from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups an immersive eight-week experience in opthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear and Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear.  

Building a More Diverse Talent Pipeline

Developed by Joseph Arboleda, MD, PhD and James Chodosh MD, MPH, and managed by Dr. Arboleda and Silas Wang, MD, the Research Scholars program was created to increase diversity in our field. Statistics show that those underrepresented in medicine are even more underrepresented in ophthalmology. This program helps build a more diverse talent pipeline by mentoring students interested in ophthalmology earlier in their medical school careers and offering them continued support and guidance as they progress in their careers. 

Diversity is Important

  • Patients experience improved outcomes when cared for by physicians with shared backgrounds
  • Clinicians trained in diverse training programs show increased cultural competency and do better with diverse patient populations
  • Diversity drives innovation
  • It is the right thing to do 

"Dr. Joe Arboleda and I started the Research Scholars Program to address a critical and growing lack of diversity among practicing ophthalmologists, so that our patients will have the chance to be cared for by people that look like them, and to do our part toward building a more equitable and just society. We recruited seven truly amazing human beings to the program this past summer. We all learned so much from each other. Joe and I truly believe all of our Scholars will make outstanding ophthalmologists and scientists and be a credit to our department, our hospital, and our professions of medicine and science.”  

Dr. James Chodosh, Former Vice Chair of Education and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Harvard Ophthalmology, and Inaugural Chair of The University of New Mexico Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Program Structure

  • Eight-week summer program
  • Each scholar is paired with a research mentor and a clinical mentor based on their area of interest
  • Scholars will spend the bulk of the program in the laboratory, working on a mentored research project
  • Up to one half-day per week will be spent in the clinic or operating room 
  • Scholars attend weekly meetings with Drs. Arboleda and Wang
  • Scholars receive hands-on surgical skills training in the Samuel and Nancy Jo Altschuler Ophthalmology Surgical Training Laboratory
  • Opportunity to work on research that is publishable in a peer-reviewed journal 
  • Stipend provided to support travel, food, and housing

What to Expect After the Program

  • Continued interaction with your primary research mentor, resident mentor, clinical mentors, and Drs. Arboleda and Wang
  • Assistance and guidance on preparing your ophthalmology residency application
  • Letters of support from program mentors and consideration for future positions in our residency and fellowship programs, as well as our faculty 

Hear from Our Alumni 

Dinasha DahanayakeDinasha Dahanayake, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

"My favorite part of the program has been the people I've met. It has been a privilege to have met Drs. Chodosh and Arboleda, who have provided mentorship unlike anything I have experienced before. They’ve encouraged me to not be afraid to pursue my passions and to maintain the mindset that I can persevere through any situation no matter how challenging it may seem." 

Yamiko Jessica ChanzaYamiko Jessica Chanza, Loma Linda University School of Medicine

"The unforgettable clinical experiences I’ve had through this program and meaningful research I’ve been immersed in have re-affirmed my interest in ophthalmology. This program has shown me how to grow the dreams I have for my career into a reality and has equipped me with invaluable lessons, research techniques, and resources."


Eligibility Criteria

  • Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply
  • Must be a current first-year or second-year medical student attending medical school in the United States
  • Must be able to commit to a minimum of 8 weeks full-time during Summer of 2023.

Application Requirements

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation 
  • Personal statement describing 1) qualifications for this program, and, 2) your interest in ophthalmology

Applications materials, letters of recommendation, and any questions should be sent to Kahira Saez-Torres by February 15, 2023.