About the Program

This summer internship introduces talented undergraduate students, with a demonstrated commitment in advancing the needs of underrepresented minorities in health services, population health, and clinical epidemiology, to research in this field.

Since 2000, more than 350 undergraduate students have participated in SUMR and 85% have gone on to have careers in health care. We invite you to be part of this positive change, learn about our program, and contact us if you are interested in becoming a SUMR scholar.

Starting in 2022, SUMR has expanded the program to attract scholars who want to get experience in aging research. The Get Experience in Aging Research Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) is a 15-month sustained fellowship program in the demography and economics of aging and health care for undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in a career in aging research. More information about the GEAR UP program can be found here: Get Experience in Aging Research Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP).

Despite tremendous advances in health care, minorities have higher rates of heart disease, many cancers, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS than white populations. It’s going to take more than medicine to change this fact. It will take health services researchers who understand the political, social, economic, and environmental realities that have created such deep disparities and inequities in health and health care. Different life experiences and perspectives result in richer ideas and findings more relevant to the country’s highly diverse population of patients.

Founded in 2000 by Penn LDI and the Wharton School’s Health Care Management Department, the program helps advance equity in the health care professions. Participating scholars work with Penn faculty on mentored research projects, attend the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, and present on their projects at the End of SUMR Research Symposium.

Joanne Levy

Joanne Levy, MBA, MCP

Founding Director, SUMR Program and Director of Student Initiatives, Penn LDI

Claudio Lucarelli

Claudio Lucarelli, PhD

Associate Professor, The Wharton School and Faculty Advisor, SUMR Program

Mark Pauly

Mark Pauly, PhD

Bendheim Professor, The Wharton School and Founding Principal Investigator, SUMR Program

I loved my SUMR experience. The research skills I gained have served me throughout my undergraduate studies and my current position at the NIH. But perhaps most importantly, I met so many incredible and thoughtful people who I am certain are/will change the world.

Tania Calle

Tania Calle (2018 Cohort)

MPhil candidate in Public Health, University of Cambridge

SUMR changed my life by enabling me to understand health services research and generalize a career path through it…The relationships I formed with SUMR mentors allowed me to understand the role of mentorship—some of those mentors remain in my life even all these years later.

Amed Whitt

Ahmed Whitt, PhD, MSW (2007 Cohort)

Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work

SUMR interested me because I liked the idea of exploring a career path that would allow me to be a voice for people that don’t normally get heard in health care…Penn coordinates health services research at a very elite level and being a part of that community raised the bar for my own sense of potential and expectations.

Naomi Adaniya

Naomi Adaniya, PhD, MPH (2005 Cohort)

Director, Health Care Fraud Unit & Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, U.S. Department of Justice

SUMR changed the course of my career! At one point, I was considering going to medical school or training to be a physician researcher. My SUMR experience was an immersive introduction to the world of health policy and health economics research. I was introduced to important mentors and supportive friends who encouraged me to pursue my passion for research.

Mei-Lynn Hua

Mei-Lynn Hua (2015 Cohort)

PhD candidate, Health Care Management and Economics, The Wharton School

SUMR has had a handprint on every single step in my career; I continue to work with many of the investigators that I met in SUMR over 10 years ago, and their colleagues, who have written letters of recommendations for me and who I have grants and publications with.

Lori Dean

Lori Dean, ScD (2001 Cohort)

Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

SUMR opened up a new world of research possibilities I never knew existed before, completely changing the course of my education and future career and providing me the opportunity to jump both feet first into health services research.

Randall Burson

Randy Burson (2013 Cohort)

MD/PhD candidate in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Because of SUMR, I was granted exposure to world-class faculty and other professionals who are aligned with health care, scientific research, and education. After SUMR, I plan to pursue graduate studies in the public health field, with a concentration in health management and policy, focused on vulnerable populations. SUMR has definitely impacted my life for the better!

Amilcar DaSilva

Amilcar DaSilva (2021 Cohort)

Hunter College, Class of 2022

How to Apply

The program is open to rising undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors interested in exploring the field of health services research. 

SUMR/GEAR UP 2024 Application

The SUMR 2024 program will run for 12 weeks, beginning late May 2024 through August 2024. 

The GEAR UP 2024 program will run for 15 months concurrently with SUMR. Those who wish to apply for GEAR UP should complete a SUMR application and indicate in the application form your desire to be considered for GEAR UP.

The SUMR and GEAR UP application timeline will be the same.

Once you click the link to apply to “2024 Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program/Get Experience in Aging Research Undergraduate Program”, you will be prompted to sign in or create an Interfolio/Dossier account. Interfolio/Dossier is the platform through which you will upload various parts of your application and allow you to track the progress of your application to SUMR/GEAR UP. If you are creating a new Dossier account, make sure to select the free option. You can also create/sign into a Dossier account Here.

SUMR/GEAR UP Application Timeline

  • The SUMR 2024 application will open on October 15, 2023.
  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2024
  • Applicant Interviews: March 2024
  • Admissions Notifications: April 2024

We recommend that you begin the application process early as it may take longer than you would expect. Allow enough time for completing your online application, and gathering and submitting all of your materials, including two references.  

Required Application Materials

In addition to the online application form, we also require:

  • A resume
  • An unofficial college transcript
  • A headshot
  • Two confidential letters of recommendation
    • The letters of recommendation should address something important about you, including a description of your academic and personal characteristics, especially related research aptitude.


Upload your resume, unofficial college transcript, and headshot to Dossier.

To request letters of recommendation through Dossier, go to the Letters tab. In the upper right corner, click on “+ Request a Letter” and fill out the contact information for your two references (you may have to “Add New Contact” for each of the two references).

  • Make sure you request a confidential letter or evaluation.
  • As mentioned above, the official deadline for applications is February 1, 2024. You will be asked to set a due date for your recommenders to send in their reference letters. We recommend that you request for your letters to be submitted at least a month before the actual deadline to be sure that all parts of your application are complete before February 1st.
  • It may be helpful to provide a link to the SUMR website in your description.
  • In your message to the recommender, you may want to reinforce that the letters of recommendation should address something important about you, including a description of your academic and personal characteristics, especially related research aptitude.

Application Review Process

Only complete applications will be reviewed. The top 20% of the applicant pool will be selected for interviews and will be contacted to schedule a phone or in-person interview. A final admission notice will be sent to interviewed applicants within two weeks of the interview and to non-interviewed candidates at the time of interview decisions.



Can I apply through Handshake?

No, please fill out the full application using the link specified beginning October 15, 2022. Applications received through Handshake will not be accepted.

Will I receive a confirmation that all pieces of my application have been received?

Yes, you will be notified as soon as you submit your application that is was received.

How many letters of recommendation are required?

Two, as specified under “Required Application Materials.”


Is housing provided?

No, but SUMR/GEAR UP provides discounted housing through The Axis, a local apartment complex.

How do we go about finding housing?

There are many affordable housing options available during the summer in Philadelphia. We recommend Axis Apartments, so you are housed with other SUMR/GEAR UP Scholars, however, you can search for summer sublets through off campus housing sites, Facebook groups, or rooming with other SUMR/GEAR UP scholars.

Will SUMR/GEAR UP pay for transportation costs to the University of Pennsylvania?

No, we suggest that you request a stipend from your university if transportation will be an issue.


Who is eligible to apply?

Program participants should have an interest in health care and strong quantitative skills. Candidates from groups that are underrepresented in the field of health services research (African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander), first-generation college students, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who identify as LGTBQIA are particularly encouraged to apply. Prospective participants do not have to make a commitment in advance to attend graduate school to be accepted into the program, but an academic or research career should be something they are considering. A committee of Penn faculty selects each year’s SUMR/GEAR UP scholars from the highly competitive applicant pool.    

What do SUMR/GEAR UP scholars do?

  • Work with Penn faculty mentor(s) full time on health services research project(s) of the student’s choice.
  • Gain practical advice about graduate school opportunities and assistance with the graduate school application process, including a GRE prep program.
  • Take a 7-week writing course taught by Penn’s Critical Writing Program faculty.
  • Attend weekly lunch meetings with program staff and Penn faculty to discuss their projects and learn more about the broad range of health services research at Penn.
  • Present a final presentation on mentored health services research project(s) at the End of SUMR/GEAR UP Research Symposium.
  • Attend health services research conference as a group, all expenses paid.
  • Take part in various extracurricular activities/social functions sponsored by the SUMR/GEAR UP program.
  • GEAR UP scholars will have an additional 12 months of formal and informal activities, incorporating online components that increase program flexibility and increase access to the academic-year program for students outside of Philadelphia.

What is the difference between SUMR scholars and GEAR UP scholars?

  • SUMR accepts International Students, while GEAR UP only accepts US citizens or permanent residents.
  • The SUMR 2023 program will run for 12 weeks, while the GEAR UP program will run for 15 months.
  • The SUMR 2023 program will end August 18, 2023, while the GEAR UP program continues through August 17, 2024.
  • The GEAR UP program will offer a sustained experience, focusing on formal and informal activities, incorporating online components that increase program flexibility and increase access to the academic-year program for students outside of Philadelphia.

For more info about GEAR UP, please contact Chinwe Nwadiogbu.

What time commitment is necessary, and how are SUMR/GEAR UP scholars compensated?

SUMR/GEAR UP scholars earn $15/hour during the summer months for a time commitment of 40 hours/week. Students work with their mentors to devise their summer schedule.

Can I take a summer class while participating in SUMR/GEAR UP?

Although possible, it is NOT recommended as SUMR/GEAR UP is a full time position.

How can I learn about current and past SUMR/GEAR UP scholars?

Visit our SUMR Scholars page to learn about the current and past cohorts.

Visit our GEAR UP Scholars page to learn about the current cohort.

How can I become a SUMR/GEAR UP faculty mentor?

Complete this Mentor Application by March 1, 2023, or contact Joanne H. Levy, MBA, MCP, Founding Director, SUMR and Chinwe Nwadiogbu, MLA, Director of GEAR UP.

Who should I contact if I have other questions?

Please contact Joanne H. Levy, MBA, MCP, Founding Director, SUMR and Chinwe Nwadiogbu, MLA, Director of GEAR UP.

SUMR Scholars

Since 2000, more than 300 scholars have participated in the program.

Mohamed Abdirisak

  • Indiana University, Class of 2019
  • Major: Psychology
  • Minor: Certificate, Neuroscience
  • Cohort Year: 2018

Maramawit Abera

  • University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018
  • Major: Health and Societies
  • Cohort Year: 2017

Ola Abou-khsaiwan

  • University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015
  • Major: Economics and International Studies
  • Minor: Mathematics
  • Cohort Year: 2014

Gabriela Abrishamian-Garcia

  • University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2012
  • Major: Health and Societies; concentration in International Health
  • Minor: Hispanic Studies and Nutrition
  • Cohort Year: 2011
Naomi Adaniya

Naomi Adaniya

  • University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2009
  • Major: Business (Concentration: Health Care Management)
  • Cohort Year: 2005

20th Anniversary

In 2019, we celebrated two decades of SUMR. Visit the anniversary page to see how we celebrated the history and future of the program.

SUMR Program Sponsors

The SUMR Program is supported by Penn LDI; Health Care Management Department of the Wharton School; Deputy Dean’s Office of the Wharton School; Wharton Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR); Perelman School of Medicine Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy; Office of Inclusion and Diversity; the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology & Informatics; Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB); Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Department of Radiology; Center of Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH); Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE); Palliative and Advanced Illness Research Center (PAIR); Penn Injury Science Center (PISC); Penn Dental; Eli Lilly and Company; PolicyLab at Children’ s Hospital of Philadelphia; VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP); and the faculty mentors’ research grants.