Discovery (Year 3) Research Opportunities

The UCLA Department of Pediatrics historically sponsored integrated fellowship positions each summer for medical students to conduct research in Pediatrics, to learn about the practice of Pediatrics, 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 Pediatrics 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 Pediatrics, the Discovery period (Year 3 of the new curriculum) medical student research opportunities will include a provision of basic science, clinical, and health services research, particularly those that address health equity.

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.  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. Students will learn about their research area of interest. 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.

Search for Discovery Year research opportunities that align with your interest here.