Cultivating Interest in Research Careers

The goal of the CIRC program is to increase the number of community college students from underrepresented groups who are prepared to pursue research careers in the biomedical sciences.

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The Cultivating Interest in Research Careers (CIRC) program is a partnership between University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU). The program starts with a ten-week summer research program at UCLA, AND extends into a year-long continuum. The goal of CIRC is to provide community college students underrepresented​ in medicine and science (UIMS), such as African American, Latinx, Native American, Pacific​ Islander, disabled and socioeconomically disadvantaged students, with hands-on exposure and training in scientific research aligned with the scientific mission of the NHLBI.  

The CIRC program will provide these community college students with educational workshops, near-peer mentoring, and skills to help them transfer to a 4-year college or university and ultimately be prepared to pursue a health profession or scientific research career.

Application Requirements

  1. Official Academic Transcript
  2. Two Letters of Recommendation : One from an Instructor
  3. Completed Application

Application Deadline: Monday, March 18, 2024 

Email Completed Package to: [email protected]

This program is supported by ​NIH NHLBI grant # R25HL161609

About Our Program

The CIRC Program seeks to provide community college students with research experiences and academic enhancement training that will empower them to make a difference in their local communities and prepare themselves for science and health professional careers. The goal of the CIRC program is to increase the number of community college students from underrepresented groups who are prepared to pursue research careers in the biomedical sciences.

The CIRC Program has two-components: 1)10-week Summer Research Program and 

2)Year-round Pathway to Research Careers Continuum. The Summer Research Program will take place under the supervision of research mentors at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Participants will engage in a hands-on research project under the guidance of an established researcher working in areas related to cardiovascular disease and/or prevention. The Summer Research Program will begin with a one-week Research Fundamentals Boot Camp to prepare the students to make the most of their research experience. During the following academic school year, students will participate in an Academic Enrichment Program designed to help them successfully transfer to a four-year college or university and continue their education with the ultimate goal of a scientific research career.


Specific benefits of the CIRC program include:

  • Mentorship from a successful UCLA researcher
  • Mentorship from a near-peer advisor who is enrolled at a 4-year college/university
  • Participation in scientific and educational workshops
  • Enhancement of research skills
  • Intensive guidance and support to assist with transferring to a 4-year college/university
  • Enhancement of academic skills to pursue a career in research and/or medicine
  • Opportunity to attend conferences such as the national meeting of the American Heart Association, with registration and travel expenses covered
  • Participation in our Annual CIRC Research Symposium
  • Receive a stipend of at least $4,800

***Please Note: CIRC is NOT a residential Program. Housing is not Provided.

Near Peer Advisors

The Cultivating Interest in Research Careers (CIRC) Program will pair UCLA Near-Peer Advisors with community college students from underrepresented groups in medicine and science and/or disadvantaged backgrounds. The goals of the CIRC program are to expose community college students to a summer research experience at UCLA and to engage them in a follow-up year-long program to help them successfully transfer to a 4-year school.


Qualifications to be a Near-Peer Advisor: The Near-Peer Advisors will be UCLA students in science-related majors, ideally, who are planning to apply to graduate programs in science and research. Priority will be given to Near-Peer Advisors from underrepresented minority groups, first-generation college students, students who transferred from community colleges, and/or students receiving Pell Grants or who had a disadvantaged educational background.

Expectations of Near-Peer Advisors: Participating as a Near-Peer Advisor requires a time commitment of approximately 1 hour bi-weekly check-in with mentee. During this time, Near-Peer Advisors will be expected to regularly check in with their mentees throughout the summer and the year-long program. Near-Peer Advisors will serve as role models by sharing their personal experiences in their educational journeys, providing advice on the academic and personal aspects of college life, and providing support and encouragement as mentees work to transfer to a four-year college/university. All Near-Peer Advisors are expected to participate in a brief orientation in May to learn more specific program details (Date/time TBD). 

Near-Peer Advisors will receive a stipend of $1,000 for their 1-year commitment to the program.

Deadline for Application: April 15th, 2024

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to participate in the CIRC Program, students must meet the following eligibility requirements:


A current high school senior who has taken at least a semester of community college classes and plans on transferring to a community college in the Fall,


  • Current community college student attending a community college in Los Angeles County (Must have at least a year of classes to complete before transferring to a four-year college or university) attending a community college in Los Angeles County
  • Qualify as a student from an underrepresented group as defined by either A OR B:
    • Identify as a member of one of the following racial/ethnic groups:
      • Black or African American
      • Hispanic or Latinx
      • American Indian or Alaska Native
      • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
    • Have a disadvantaged family background, defined as either 1 OR 2 below:
      • any of the following: having been or currently being homeless, were or currently are in the foster care system, were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years, have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (e.g., “First-Generation”), were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants, received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children
      • coming from an educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that has demonstrably and directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Have taken at least one college course in the general domains listed below:
    • Oral Communication
    • Written Communication
    • Critical Thinking
    • Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning
  • Have a composite grade point average of 3.2 or above in this coursework.

Contact Us

Program Personnel

  • O. Kenrik Duru, MD, Principal Investigator, UCLA
  • Dulcie Kermah, EdD, MPH, Principal Investigator, CDU
  • Dolores Caffey-Fleming, MPH, MS, Program Manager, CDU
  • Humberto Sanchez – Program Manager

Need more information or have any questions, please email us.