Summer Focus Program

What is the Summer Focus Program?

Summer Focus provides outstanding high school students with funded research internships at the Washington University Medical Center. Each student works directly with two graduate students, the mentor and the tutor. The mentor works one-on-one with the student in the lab on a specific project, while the tutor prepares the student for their research experience. Check out the profiles of Summer Focus Alumni here.

Key facts about Summer Focus 2015
  • Program dates are June 2nd to July 31st.
  • We are especially looking for motivated students with no previous research experience. Individuals from inner city public schools and from those groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research are encouraged to apply.
  • Summer Focus scholars receive a stipend of $2500 as well as a Metro Pass.

Who Can Participate?

Students from St. Louis area schools may apply when they are in 11th grade. The students are selected by a competitive application and interview process that begins in the fall, preceding the start of the program the following summer. Students accepted into the program are notified by March 1st. In early spring students are given the opportunity to select a topic in which to do a project based on their own interests. Prior to a student's entry into a lab, he or she will also receive instruction in lab techniques and safety.

What Is Life Like as a Summer Focus Student?

At the beginning of the summer, each student joins his/her mentor as a colleague in the lab. The program recruits labs that are interested in teaching young people and in welcoming them both intellectually and socially. Together, the mentor and student develop and carry out a research project that can be reasonably accomplished during the eight-week summer program.

Over the summer, students also participate in a writing course and college preparation course. The writing course hones students' skills in scientific understanding and communication. The college prep course assists students in achieving their post-high school academic goals including successful entry into college. The college prep course focuses on career exploration, college application, admissions tests, and financial aid. Other events include an open house, social activities, and seminars on career development. At the end of the summer, students present their research findings at the closing symposium to their mentors, tutors, faculty sponsors, teachers, and parents. A closing dinner follows the presentations.

The success of Summer Focus is a result of its highly motivated students, intimate size, emphasis on one-on-one contacts, and individualized lab projects. Each year the program accepts 12 - 16 students. To be eligible to apply students must have successfully completed their junior year of high school prior to the commencement of the program.

Recent summer projects were conducted in:

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Neurosciences
  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Biomedical Engineering

Profiles of Summer Focus Alumni can be found here.

How to Apply to Summer Focus 2015

The deadline for Summer Focus 2015 applications has passed. Check this fall for information on applying to the 2016 program. If you have any questions please contact