The Summer Training in Academic Research (STAR) Program provides a high-quality research experience for undergraduate students, high school students, and middle and high school teachers during the summer academic break.
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The eight-week program will give participants who are interested in science and medicine real hands-on experience in research methodology and writing. Participants are placed in teams and matched with Duke faculty mentors to work on an original, hypothesis-driven project, originating as a one-page summary and culminating in a complete research paper. A goal of the program is to have every participant qualify for co-authorship on a peer-reviewed manuscript related to their team’s project.

The STAR Program is held at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., which has organized educational and support programs for junior faculty, fellows, residents, and medical students as well as high school and college students. Participants receive a stipend to attend, which makes the program an option even for students who planned to work over the summer break (see below).

Summer 2024 applications period is from Nov. 20, 2023 thru Jan. 05, 2024. There will be no extension.

The program will take place on June 24 to August 2, 2024.

Apply for the 2024 Duke Star Program

Questions may be submitted via email ( We regret that we are unable to respond to phone calls.

Program Details

In the first two weeks of the program, participants meet with their faculty mentors and develop a specific question or issue related to the uses and effects of a particular medication. The teams then perform a thorough review of the literature and develop an in-depth description of the research question. Participants who are 18 years and older will also experience clinical medicine firsthand by shadowing a physician on hospital rounds.

During weeks 3–8, the teams develop a thesis consisting of a description of the research question, aims, methods, figures/tables, results, and discussion for their specific project. Throughout this time, a medical writer provides tutorials on developing a scientific manuscript, a statistician provides lectures in applied statistics and works with students to analyze data, and Duke medicine and pediatrics faculty members give lectures on neonatology, antimicrobial therapy, and pharmacoepidemiology. The program also includes a medical ethics seminar on the responsible conduct of research.

To review progress and ensure the scientific validity of their work, program participants meet with their mentors weekly. At the conclusion of the program, teams do a formal presentation and complete a written thesis of their project. The papers are included in articles submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals, meaning that the participants have the potential of having their work published.

Why Publish?

STAR program participants

Publishing research can be a critical step toward a scientific or medical career. It provides recognition from the scientific community and an opportunity to build relationships with others who are doing research in the field, who can provide feedback and offer ideas for future research. Publishing also provides the opportunity to get results out into the world. Even if research findings are groundbreaking, they will not make any difference if no one knows about them and cannot apply them to real patients.

Some examples of previously published articles by Duke's STAR program participants include:

STAR Program Faculty

The program capitalizes on world-renowned training programs in place at Duke University under the leadership of Danny Benjamin, MD, PhD, distinguished professor of pediatrics at Duke and deputy director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. Other faculty in the STAR Program are actively involved in NIH-sponsored research in clinical pharmacology, therapeutics, trials, and pharmacoepidemiology. Combined, these faculty members have more than 200 publications on which trainees are listed as either first author or co-author. The team of instructors also includes a writing instructor, a statistician, and operations staff. View profiles of the instructional team members.

How to Apply

The Duke STAR Program applications period is from Nov. 20, 2024 through Jan. 05, 2024. Deadline to submit is on Jan 05, 2024 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Applications received with a date and time stamp of Jan. 06, 2024 or later will not be considered. High school and college students may use this link to apply to the 2024 STAR program.


  • Middle and high school teachers, rising junior and senior high school students, preferably rising seniors, and undergraduates are encouraged to apply.
  • No prior experience in research is necessary. Applicants only need to demonstrate strong academic performance and an interest in science.
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required for participation (per NIH policy).
  • The STAR Program is committed to ensuring a diverse participant group. Consistently around 50 percent of the class is made up of underrepresented minorities.


A stipend is provided to participants, which makes the program an option even for students who planned to work over the summer break.

  • College students receive $3,200.
  • High school students receive $2,600.
  • Teachers participating in the program are compensated $8,000 for the 8-week commitment
  • The only costs associated with the program are housing and transportation. Participants are responsible for securing their own room and board.

Instructions for High School and College Students

  • Completed application for high school or college students — The application is linked above.
  • School transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation provided by non-relatives *To be emailed by the letter writers. DEADLINE: Jan 05, 2024 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
  • Essay “What I want to be, and how I’m going to make it happen”(300 to 500-word limit)

Instructions for Teachers

Teachers are a critical part of the STAR Program. Their primary responsibility is to create an open and collaborative learning environment and contribute life experience, collaborative skills, problem-solving skills, and content-based knowledge.

Teacher Application — 2024 Duke Star Program

  • Completed teacher application — The application is linked above
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A letter of support from your institution plus one additional reference *To be emailed by the letter writers to dukestarprogram@duke.eduDEADLINE: Jan 05, 2024 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
  • Essay “What I want to be, and how I’m going to make it happen” (300 to 500-word limit)

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions may be submitted via email to STAR Program We regret that we are unable to respond to phone calls.

2023 STAR participants