Research Development Courses Original Article

Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 160-167

First online:

UCSD’s Short-Term Research Training Programs for Trainees at Different Levels of Career Development

  • Dilip V. JesteAffiliated withUniversity of CaliforniaVA San Diego Healthcare System Email author 
  • , Maureen C. HalpainAffiliated withUniversity of California
  • , Geraldine I. TrinidadAffiliated withUniversity of California
  • , Jennifer L. ReichstadtAffiliated withUniversity of California
  • , Barry D. LebowitzAffiliated withUniversity of California

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There is a critical need for new researchers in psychiatry, including subspecialties such as geriatric psychiatry. Many existing research training programs focus on post-doctoral-level trainees and involve several years of hands-on research with experienced mentors at major universities. Although valuable, such programs have some limitations in expanding the pool of investigators in specific areas. In this article, the authors describe several successful short-term research training programs.


The authors, at the University of California, San Diego, coordinate three federally funded programs that take place during the summer and include trainees at different levels from across the United States. These programs are 1) Summer Training on Aging Research Topics—Mental Health (START-MH) for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students; 2) Stein Institute for Research on Aging (SIRA) Medical Student Training In Aging Research (MSTAR); and 3) Summer Research Institute (SRI) in Geriatric Psychiatry for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. The authors compare salient characteristics of these programs, illustrating similarities as well as differences.


The authors’ experience to date suggests that these initiatives have been highly successful in attracting talented trainees at various levels, and the participants have found these experiences useful. The available follow-up suggests positive effects on research career development of the trainees, at least in the shorter run.


There are several possible models that seem to have considerable promise for expanding the pool of scientists in a given field. Limitations of this approach as well as plans for the future are discussed.