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Stanford Institute for Medical Research

Stanford Institute for Medical Research (SIMR)

A highly competitive 8-week summer internship program, the Stanford Institute for Medical Research (SIMR) offers approximately 50 high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to do hands-on research under the guidance of a one-on-one mentor in a world-class lab. It’s considered to be one of the most prestigious summer internships in the country. The SIMR program is primarily designed to introduce Bay Area students from diverse backgrounds to biomedical research. For Northern California students interested in pursuing careers in biology or medicine, SIMR is a top-notch summer program to consider.

Areas of Study in Stanford

Students accepted into the Stanford Institute for Medical Research (SIMR) are assigned to one of eight specific research areas within the Institutes of Medicine at Stanford University. These institutes include:

The Program (SIMR)

SIMR interns receive day-to-day mentorship from a Stanford graduate student or post-doctoral fellow as they perform research in a faculty member’s lab. The program starts with a day of orientation and safety training, followed by two weeks of lab time interspersed with three-morning lectures. The rest of the summer involves full-time lab work. Students can expect to spend approximately 40 hours each week in the lab from Monday to Friday, with no evening or weekend hours. Interns also attend special joint lectures. The highlight of the SIMR program is the poster session, an opportunity for students to present a poster of their research project to family, teachers, and members of the Stanford community.

An additional option for SIMR students is the bioengineering boot camp, which offers a hands-on learning experience without a research component. In this program, students attend bioengineering lectures and work in small teams on a real-world medical biodesign project. These teams present their prototypes at the SIMR poster session.

What SIMR Students Are Saying

“This summer has been a truly transformative experience for me.”

“The environment, the research, and the people are truly amazing and this process has only furthered my passion for this field.”

“This summer was the first opportunity I had to work in an actual professional research facility… My mentor challenged me to critically analyze the data and identify relationships.”

“This summer I’ve learned to think on my own and figure out problems without being handed the information.”

“This experience pushed me to be more independent while also reminding me that it’s OK to ask questions.”

“Important among the many lessons I learned was the need for methodical experiment design and careful planning in order to get results thoroughly and efficiently. I also saw how much creativity is needed in order to develop a new procedure or platform.”

High school student studying cells in a lab, participating in a Stanford summer program.

Who Should Apply for SIMR?

To be accepted into the Stanford Institute for Medical Research (SIMR), an applicant must be at least 16 years old and a rising high school junior or senior. Only US Citizens or Permanent Residents are admitted. Priority is given to Bay Area applicants; non-local students may apply, though their chances of admission are lower. Current statistics aren’t available, but in 2013 only 3.2% of applicants were admitted. Essays are an especially important component of a student’s application.

SIMR particularly encourages students from underrepresented groups in biomedical research to apply. These groups include first-generation college students, ethnic minorities, women, those with disabilities, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Financial Information

The only cost associated with the Stanford Institute for Medical Research is the $40 application fee. Students can apply for a fee waiver if their gross adjusted household income is less than $80,000 per year.

All SIMR interns receive a minimum of $500 stipend. Some students may receive stipends of $1500 and above based on need and special grants.


No on-campus housing or transportation is provided. Students from outside the Bay Area must stay with a family member or legal adult guardian and immediately provide housing verification. Interns who are 18 or older may apply separately for Stanford Summer Housing.

Alumni Achievements

  • 2017 summer class – one Intel National Semifinalist and two Intel National Finalists
  • 2016 summer class – five Intel National Semifinalists and two Siemens Semifinalists
  • 2015 summer class – four Intel National Semifinalists and one Siemens Semifinalist
  • 2014 summer class – seven Intel National Semifinalists, one Intel National Finalist, and three Siemen’s Finalists
  • 2013 summer class – three Intel National Semifinalists, 2 Intel National Finalists, one Regional Siemen’s finalist, and one Siemen’s Semifinalist
  • 2012 summer class – four Intel National Semifinalists and three Siemen’s Semifinalists
  • 2011 summer class – seven Intel National Semifinalists and three Siemen’s Semifinalists
  • 2010 summer class – four Intel National Semifinalists and four Siemen’s Semifinalists
  • 2008 summer class – one Intel National Finalist
  • 2007 summer class – two Intel National Semifinalists
  • 2006 summer class – two Siemen’s Semifinalists and one Presidential Scholar
  • 2005 summer class – two Intel National Semifinalists and one Intel Finalist
  • 2003 summer class – one Intel National Semifinalist

SIMR alumni have enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs at universities such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Caltech, Yale, Penn, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, and Duke.

Alumni that attended Stanford Institute for Medical Research.

About Stanford

Stanford University is one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutes. This private, top-ranked university is known for its academic achievements, wealth, selectivity, and Silicon Valley location. U.S. News and World Report listed Stanford at #6 in its 2020 Best Colleges edition. Stanford’s undergraduate acceptance rate is 5%. Just a few of Stanford’s many famous alumni are President Herbert Hoover, author John Steinbeck, President John F. Kennedy, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, billionaire Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, actress Sigourney Weaver, and astronaut Sally Ride.

Final Thoughts

Not only do summer programs like the Stanford Institute for Medical Research (SIMR) look great on paper, but they also provide fodder for a winning personal statement. Students interested in medicine and biology would be well-served to consider a summer at SIMR; it’s prestigious and free, an unbelievably good deal. While SIMR acceptance rates are very low, at IvyCollegeAdmit we can help with essay editing and guidance for up to five summer program applications.

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