Student Research

What is health research?
Research is the process of systematically investigating a topic in order to generate new knowledge and discover generalizable insights about the world. Health research takes many forms. Epidemiologists use statistics, spatial analysis, and other data science tools to examine where and why population health problems occur and to test the effectiveness of clinical and public health interventions. Health policy researchers seek to understand the effects of governmental laws, policies, and regulations and organizational practices on population health. Health scientists use laboratory technology to study the biological and environmental contributors to health and disease.

How can UR students get involved in health research?
Professors in many departments at UR have served as research mentors for HS majors and minors. Learn more about these opportunities on the School of Arts & Sciences Student Research website and by communicating directly with potential mentors whose areas of research align with your own interests.

How should HS students prepare for health research?
Health Studies students who are interested in joining an academic-year or summer research team are strongly encouraged to enroll in HS 100 (Health Policy) or HS 101 (Global Health) during their first year at Richmond and take HS 250 (Epidemiology and Health Research Methods) during the fall semester of their second year. Mentors may have additional requirements for members of their research teams, such as the completion of additional coursework or online training on research ethics. Meeting with potential mentors early in your time at UR can help you maximize your participation in meaningful research.

Meet an HS Major

Ben Pearson Picture

Ben Pearson ’23 spent Summer 2022 as a research intern at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. With Spider Internship Funds support, Ben was able to spend six weeks conducting a retrospective study about how chemotherapy in childhood may reduce long-term protection from routine childhood vaccines received before beginning cancer treatment. He collected antibody data, collaborated with a statistician at the hospital to analyze the data, and drafted a manuscript presenting evidence of chemotherapy erasing long-term immunity conferred by vaccines.  

 His pediatric cancer research internship took place 15 years after he had been treated at Cedars-Sinai for acute lymphocytic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. “I was diagnosed on May 8, 2007, and treated up until August 29, 2010,” Pearson said. “Since then, I’ve wanted to go into pediatric hematology and oncology.” The hospital became his second home as he went through treatment and follow-up care. At age 10, doctors let Pearson draw his own blood from a peripherally inserted central catheter line. By high school, he was volunteering at Cedars-Sinai and learning how to suture. As a UR student, he continued to explore medical careers by completing EMT training and working as a clinical assistant at UR’s Student Health Center. “My doctors let me get involved in my treatment, which I think is the reason why I love it so much.” 

In addition to his internship, Ben also explored health research through courses in statistics, laboratory science, bioethics, epidemiology and health research methods (HS 250), and an independent study on clinical epidemiology.  Ben is now enrolled in the master’s degree program in Clinical and Epidemiologic Research at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine.