Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program (SHURP)

About the Program

SHURP is a ten-week summer research program primarily for college students belonging to groups that are under-represented in the sciences.  SHURP presently has 475 alumni from colleges across the country, and over 90% are continuing or planning to continue training and careers in the sciences. SHURP is one of the summer research programs participating in the Summer Research Early Identification Program of the Leadership Alliance, a consortium of 35 colleges and universities dedicated to improving the participation of historically underrepresented students in graduate programs.

To be eligible for SHURP, applicants must be currently-enrolled undergraduates who:

  • will not have completed their BA/BS degree by June 2017,
  • are considering careers in biological or biomedical research sciences,
  • have already had at least one summer (or equivalent term-time) of experience in a research laboratory,
  • have taken at least one upper-level biology course that includes molecular biology, and
  • are U.S. citizens or permanent residents (due to requirements of our federal funding).


Summer research opportunities will be available in a variety of biological and biomedical sciences including (but not limited to): cellular and developmental biology, cell cycle regulation, stem cell biology, studies of blood cells, cancer biology, endocrinology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, receptor structure and function, transmembrane signaling mechanisms, and virology.  Considerable emphasis is placed on placing students in labs suiting their research interests.  More information about research interests of Division faculty members may be found at

Summer 2017 Dates: Wednesday, May 31 through Saturday, August 5.*
*Due to the academic schedule of those students on the quarter system, dates may be modified for those students.



Prior to the start of the summer session, incoming participants will speak with the SHURP director about research interests to determine faculty/lab placement.  Depending upon faculty availability participants will be placed in labs based on the availability of advisors in addition to a designated lab mentor (graduate student, postdoc) who will work with the advisor to ensure a smooth transition into the lab and act as an additional resource for the summer project.

Orientation will be held the first day of the summer program and will include an overview of Harvard University, Medical School and available resources at participant’s disposal.  The program co-directors and coordinator will be in attendance in addition to peer mentor coordinators to answer questions regarding research, lab and other resource locations, lodging and program requirements.  Participants will be escorted to have their ID pictures taken and accompanied to the lab where they will typically meet with both their research mentor and lab advisor.    

There will be standard meetings setup between lab advisor/mentor and the participant as well as between the participant and program directors.  In addition, participants will be paired with a current graduate student with similar research interests (typically a former SHURPer) and will have an opportunity to meet with their and other peer mentors during various outings and events arranged by the peer mentor coordinators.  Participants are strongly encouraged to arrange additional meetings as needed/desired with all available resources.



Participants are required to attend all SHURP activities including Orientation, Career and Research Discussions, the Leadership Alliance National Convention, and Student Final Presentations.


Career Discussion sessions are typically held from 12 – 2 PM every Tuesday and are meant to give SHURP participants an opportunity to meet with and listen to current and recent graduate students and faculty about their experiences in their respective programs/at their respective organizations.  Topics include (but are not limited to): Giving Presentations and Finding Original Literature, What Can You Do with a Science PhD, PhD or MD/PhD Admissions and Graduate Student Experience, Networking and Mentoring.


Research Discussion sessions are typically held from 5 – 7 PM every Thursday and give SHURP participants the opportunity to discuss their research projects with other participants.  These sessions are led by program faculty with the first two sessions dedicated to an introductory style lesson what is expected and how to successfully deliver the presentation.  In addition these sessions also encompass the Responsible Conduct of Research Series (RCR) which includes lectures on Research Documentation, Image Manipulation in Research and Life in the Lab.  This series is meant to give participants the tools necessary to identify and prevent research abnormalities and detrimental lab experiences.


Leadership Alliance National Symposium (LANS)

Participants in the Program are required to attend the Leadership Alliance National Symposium meeting typically held at the end of July each year.  The program brings participants to the symposium where they will present posters and participate in the activities which take place over a long weekend.


Final Presentations

Participants in the Program are required to deliver an oral presentation as the culmination of their research project. 


Housing, Travel and Program Funding

The Division will provide housing at the medical school dormitory, travel to and from the program, a stipend* and health insurance if it is needed.  The Medical School is located in Boston, Massachusetts, easily accessible by public transportation to the downtown areas and to nearby Cambridge, home of Harvard's main campus.
*in most cases



Students in the Program live in single rooms in the Harvard Medical School dormitory (Vanderbilt Hall) or in single rooms in Northeastern Housing.   Vanderbilt is located across the street from the Medical School quadrangle and Northeastern Housing is located just a few blocks away.  Both are within one or two blocks of many of the Harvard teaching hospitals and their research laboratories.  Students are required to supply their own linens and personal items including dishware as there are shared kitchens available on site.  (Nearby resources include Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, grocery stores and other stores are a quick walk or subway ride from both Vanderbilt and Northeastern Housing). 


Participants are encouraged to take part in the local area tour offered by the Peer Mentor coordinators to familiarize themselves with the amenities and resources including the transportation system and Longwood and Cambridge campuses.



Individuals will be contacted directly to arrange travel to and from Boston for participation in SHURP.  We try to accommodate as best we can in arranging travel from the most convenient airport, train/bus depot, etc. to Boston’s Logan airport or South Station.  Typically, flights and other travel will be covered fully (up to $600 USD).  For those participants who plan to drive, mileage is reimbursed at the rate of approximately $0.57/mile.



While the majority of participants receive a supplement from SHURP, circumstances can vary.  Arrangements will be made with the appropriate parties for those students who have funding from other sources such as their home institution. The typical stipend amount is $450/week for 10 weeks.

This program is supported in part by funding from the NIH and NSF and has previously received support from the DoD ASSURE Program. 


Health Insurance

Massachusetts State Law requires all residents (permanent and temporary) to have health insurance.  Applicants are required to have health insurance in order to participate in the program. Accepted participants who do not have health insurance should speak with the program for assistance in arranging coverage.


Application Information

Application for Summer 2018

The application is anticipated to open on November 1, 2017.
The application deadline is anticipated to be February 1, 2018.
Please check back in October 2017 for more information about the SHURP 2018 application.


Apply through the Leadership Alliance. For more information about the Leadership Alliance, including the application process click here.


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