Undergraduate Research

The O'Brien Urology Research Center provides undergraduate training opportunities to encourage young investigators to enter the field of nephrology and urologic sciences.

nuSURF program

The Nephrology and Urology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (nuSURF) research training program exposes future biomedical and clinical scientists to investigative careers in academic nephrology, basic nephrology and urologic sciences. These scientists are vital for biomedical research because they form a bridge between clinicians and medical scientists and are often the most qualified to ask the proper scientific health-related questions.

A common challenge for young nephrology and urology researchers is that prior to their nephrology and urology residencies or fellowships, many haven't had sufficient exposure to basic research, and sometimes no exposure at all. In addition, the rigors of clinical training programs may limit their ability to develop and nurture their interests in renal and urologic research.

The goal of the nuSURF program is to overcome these challenges by introducing students to basic urology research early in their careers, allowing them to explore the breadth and depth of the field before making a commitment to exclusively clinical careers. The program allows talented students who are predisposed to basic research to explore nephrology and urology research.

The nuSURF program aims to:

  • Give summer undergraduates experience in nephrology or urologic research
  • Provide a collaborative basic and translational environment to help students understand that all of medicine, including nephrology and urology, is grounded in basic science
  • Provide instruction on both oral and poster presentations of research data

While the nuSURF program is available mainly to undergraduate students, recent graduates who will be entering a Ph.D. or M.D. program, graduate students, and medical students also can apply to the program.

The nuSURF program lasts eight to 10 weeks, typically, but not always, during a summer break. Students receive a stipend and a small amount for laboratory expenses.

In keeping with the overall Mayo Clinic culture, faculty members in the O'Brien Urology Research Center prioritize a positive experience for nuSURF trainees as they gain experience in the laboratories of established mentors. The program also prioritizes fostering the development and the representation of minorities and women in urology research.

Undergraduate research project experience

The O'Brien Urology Research Center also serves as a research training ground for the undergraduate capstone year for students at the University of Minnesota Rochester. Previous capstone projects have built on the center's development of a model of kidney stone research based on the fruit fly, for example, with the goal of discovering medications that could dramatically reduce the size and frequency of the most common type of kidney stones, or eliminate them entirely.