Logo of cartoon green person holding atom with Short-Term Research Experience Program to Unlock Potential (STEP-UP).

The Wake Forest University School of Medicine Short-Term Research Experience Program to Unlock Potential (STEP-UP) provides training to high school students under-represented (UR) in exercise, nutrition, cardiovascular, metabolic and related fields to enhance the diversity of the behavioral and clinical research workforce involved in National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ (NIDDK) mission-focused research.

The program takes advantage of the School of Medicine's broad, multidisciplinary research established in areas including:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Kidney Disease
  • Related Comorbidities

The program also dedicates efforts towards providing not only technical expertise but also advice, insight and career development skills. Training, experiences and mentoring will be delivered during an 8-week, hands-on summer experience with a dedicated university mentor.

As a Coordinating Center, the WFSM STEP-UP team works to match students with a mentor in their geographic region. We currently serve North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. For students outside of our region, several other STEP-UP affiliated sites are available to aid in coordinating summer research programs for students.

Program Goals

  • To increase awareness of the unique challenges facing a diverse population living with diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease and of the opportunities for research that address these issues. Recruitment activities will provide a forum for reaching UR students with an interest in this research to apply for the Wake Forest University School of Medicine STEP-UP.
  • To expand opportunities for paid research internships at participating satellite sites during the summer where hands-on research exposure, mentorship, state-of-the art training, and career-development resources will be provided to increase UR students involved in health disparities research related to diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease.
Two women and one man all wearing white lab coats, smiling.

Program Eligibility

General Requirements

  • Be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or legal permanent resident.
  • Be 16 years of age or older.
  • Give proof of personal medical/health insurance coverage throughout the duration of the program. Exceptions will be made for students residing in the following U.S. territories: Marshall Island, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Saipan, and Guam.
  • Commit to completing the program.

How to Apply

Visit the NIH STEP-UP website to apply and learn additional information about the program.

Application Deadlines

High School: February 15

All applications and supporting documents must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on the final due date.
After the respective deadline, applicants will not be able to submit an application.