Discovery (Year 3) Research Opportunities

The UCLA Department of Family Medicine and Harbor-UCLA historically sponsored integrated fellowship positions (HPSA and Summer Urban Health Fellowship) each summer for medical students to conduct research in Family Medicine, to learn about the practice of Family Medicine, and to participate in activities that give back to our communities. All students completing their first and second year of medical school at UCLA were eligible for the fellowships.

Since 2021, UCLA DGSOM has implemented its new Heals curriculum. New research opportunities in the Department of Family Medicine and Harbor-UCLA will now be available to medical students during the Discovery Year (Year 3) and not during the summer between Years 1 and 2 of medical school.

Consistent with the goals of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, the Discovery period (Year 3 of the new curriculum) medical student research opportunities will have a strong focus on the provision of high quality, accessible primary care to marginalized and under-resourced populations.

Information about family medicine research during the Discovery (Year 3) is available below.

Family Medicine and Community Health Discovery Fellowship

Through this Discovery, students will be engaged in 1) Capacity and skill building, 2) Experiential learning and 3) Scholarly activity culminating in a 4) Capstone experience. Students will be equipped with skills in key competencies in health justice and community advocacy through seminars, faculty tutorials and workshops. Additionally, experiential learning will be offered through clinical exposures in under-resourced settings, as well as community engagement and outreach through health fairs and health educational opportunities.  Medical students are required to complete a health/social justice advocacy scholarly project, with the option to work with faculty mentors on an existing health justice research projects, or to develop their own scholarly research project under the guidance of assigned faculty mentors at DGSOM and Harbor-UCLA. Students will learn about their research area of interest in addition to the fundamentals of Community Based Participatory Research and Community Oriented Primary Care. The required experiences and training will be centered on advocacy domains and learning competencies and will be contextualized in the setting of structural systems (federal, state, and local community) and health equity and justice. 


  • Understand key issues in underserved communities and health and healthcare disparities on a local, regional, or national level.
  • Discuss strategies in health policy or education that address increased equity and reduce health disparities for underserved and vulnerable populations.
  • To become familiar with service projects, community engagement and participatory research methods so that students can effectively work collaboratively with underserved communities during their career.
  • To become familiar with effective cultural and linguistically appropriate care for underserved patients and communities.
  • To provide students with foundational leadership and advocacy knowledge and skills and familiarize them with different methods of healthcare advocacy for diverse disadvantaged communities.

For more information about Discovery Year research opportunities, please contact: Barbara Zolkin, Family Medicine Predoctoral Program Coordinator by email or phone, (310) 825-1048.