Researchers working in lab

Student and Resident Research

The Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s Office of Research is dedicated to helping all students engage in cutting-edge research that seeks to explain, prevent, and treat health concerns.

Students across programs at the College of Medicine have opportunities to participate in innovative research. While most graduate students are focused on research as the centerpiece of their training, especially our doctoral students, this page contains resources for professional and graduate students alike to find out more about how to get involved in research.

How to Get Started

Curricular Research

For research required by or as a part of your educational program, please consult your program coordinator for questions about program-specific requirements and work with your advisor to develop your project and conduct your research.

Extracurricular Research

To get started with extracurricular research, current and prospective students should:

  1. Explore areas of research below to identify a topic that interests you and aligns with current research initiatives at the college.
  2. Reach out to the researcher to express your interest.
  3. Work with your mentor and any other collaborators to plan your participation in ongoing research or to design and conduct a new research project. WSU Mentors can assist in securing funding for your project and help you navigate the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process. Mentors can also provide guidance on reporting, presenting, and publishing your findings.

Explore Areas of Research

Supported by the Office of Research, our faculty conduct research in fields ranging from fundamental sciences like genetics to applied sciences such as spatial epidemiology, investigating how to explain, prevent, and treat health concerns so that Washingtonians and people worldwide can live longer, better.

Learn more about current research and areas of expertise in the College of Medicine through faculty profiles and pages for research centers, labs, and other working groups. This information is also accessible via the Faculty and Staff Directory, Departments and Units page, and Office of Research.


I’m an MD student. Where can I find more information about the scholarship and discovery project (MedScholar)?

Information on curricular research requirements for MD program can be found on E.Flo MD.

What is the Institutional Review Board and how do I navigate the review process?

Institutional review boards (IRBs) are ethics committees that review all research proposals for projects involving human participants or sensitive data such as protected health information to ensure that the research is ethical and that participants and data will be protected. For research conducted at or affiliated with WSU that involves human participants or sensitive data, the WSU IRB must vet and approve the project before it starts.

The IRB’s website provides guidance on the application process and ethics training requirements for all researchers listed on the application. Research that takes place at a site other than WSU may also need to be independently approved by another institution’s IRB, such as a hospital or tribal IRB. 

How do I get medical record access to conduct research?

WSU cannot grant access to Electronic Health Records (EHR). You need to work with your PI/mentor/supervisor at the institution that controls the EHR to get access.

Can students serve as the Principal Investigator (PI)?

Students are not allowed to serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) on an IRB application; your mentor must fill this role and submit the application on your behalf.

Can I conduct research at another site other than WSU?

Yes, though if your research is taking place off-site at another institution, WSU is limited in what help it can provide and has no authority with outside IRBs. This should be considered when entering into a research project.

Do I need a mentor for my research at Washington State University?

While not required, a mentor at WSU is highly encouraged. Mentors provide essential guidance on conducting and publishing rigorous research. A faculty mentor is necessary if your research requires Institutional Review Board approval.

What is the difference between an advisor and a mentor?

An advisor is a formal role at a university filled by a faculty or staff member who helps students meet their educational goals, such as by offering guidance about which courses to take to fulfill degree requirements. Advisors may also supervise curricular research, such as a thesis or dissertation. In a graduate program, your advisor may also be called your committee chair. For students applying to research-focused graduate programs, it is important to identify an advisor and other committee members whose research interests align with your own and to contact them about their availability and funding resources prior to applying.

A mentor is an informal role filled by a faculty member or others who offer advice for meeting your educational and professional goals. Your advisor may also be a mentor, or you can seek mentorship from others. Students often benefit from receiving mentorship from multiple people. Mentors may also supervise extracurricular research. Their level of involvement in a particular project depends on their interest and availability; some mentors may be closely involved in your work, much like a formal advisor, while others may offer more occasional guidance.

Is there funding available to support research?

There are funds available for qualified research expenses within the college. These funds are limited and require submitting to a competitive grant funding program.

I would like to apply for a grant. How do I get started?

There are a variety of funding sources for research, both at WSU and from external sources. If you would like to apply for grant funding for a research project, consult your mentor for advice and review the procedure for submitting grant proposals. Once you have identified a grant, alert the College of Medicine Office of Research about your plans in advance of the grant proposal submission deadline by using the Intent to submit a grant form.

Where can I get help analyzing and reporting my data?

The College of Medicine offers support for designing research projects and analyzing data; please submit a biostatistical and methodology Research design and data analysis support request. When writing proposals and papers for publication, students can get writing help from the Undergraduate Writing Center or Graduate Writing Center. Faculty also have access to professional proposal and publication editing services; work with your mentor to take advantage of this free resource. The college also offers Guidance on authorship and publication on presenting and publishing research findings, including authorship norms.

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