Founded in 1989, Baylor College of Medicine’s Summer Medical and Research Training (SMART) Program has been providing undergraduate students from across the country with first-hand experience in biomedical research, while better acquainting them with Baylor and its renowned research projects. SMART, or Summer Medical and Research Training, is a nine-week program designed for talented, motivated undergraduates who want to spend their summer enriching their education and diving into the world of biomedical research. SMART provides these students with a meaningful job, where they are immersed in Baylor College of Medicine’s programs, learning from its physicians and faculty.
The SMART Program began as a grassroots effort by Baylor College of Medicine faculty to find, educate and inspire young students to pursue careers in research and medicine. The faculty was so invested in launching this program that they provided 80 percent of the funding, with the additional 20 percent coming from donors.
Baylor faculty and physicians spend time with SMART students, taking them on rounds, allowing them access to their respective clinics and labs and discussing clinical training and their specialties. Throughout the nine weeks, students also attend daily seminars, join GRE preparatory workshops, participate in development activities and experience dorm life while living in Rice University housing for the duration of the program.
“The daily seminar series makes the SMART Program truly unique,” says Dr. Gayle Slaughter, senior associate dean for graduate education and diversity. “In these seminars, students are hearing about the forefront of medicine and research from those who are actually doing the work or benefitting from the results. We put a human face on science through this seminar series, and it really resonates with our students.”
This summer, Baylor College of Medicine is playing host to 87 students in the SMART Program. These students are spending their summer at Baylor because they are passionate about learning and discovering science and research, and the heart and emotion behind it.
“There is no place that, as an undergraduate student, you can see the breadth in the frontier of science as what you can experience through the SMART Program,” says Slaughter. “This program demonstrates the importance of learning about these complicated research projects and medical studies first-hand, as well as the impact they can have on patients.”
Year after year, SMART students express appreciation for the time they spend learning directly from physicians, covering everything from patient care to research, and their professors and counselors see the growth students experience through the program, both academically and socially.
The SMART Program has earned national acclaim as one of the most successful of its kind in the nation, with 40 percent of its participants later applying to Baylor’s M.D. or M.D. /Ph.D. programs.