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For alternative research programs for Summer 2019, please see the Boz Institute 

2019 Research Scholars - Bioengineering 

The Research Scholars program continues to evolve as we strive to provide students with the most advanced educational opportunities that leverage what UC San Diego is known for - top notch research. 

This year, the UC San Diego Research Scholars program will be focused on the field of Bioengineering. 

There will be three different program opportunities that students can choose from, ranging from a 2 day introduction course, a 5 day program, and a comprehensive 6 week lab experience that includes a 3 week residential component. The program information is provided below. Students can apply and potentially be accepted into all 3 programs. 

BioEngineering Summer High School Internship Program (BE-SHIP)

This unique summer internship program aims to provide a state-of-the-art Bioengineering experience for rising high school students. Students will be able to join a forefront research lab in Bioengineering at UC San Diego for six weeks during the summer. They will be able to work closely with a lab mentor and faculty investigator on a Bioengineering research project. Projects range from discovery-stage science to application-stage development. Topics range from genes, molecules, and cells, to materials, tissues, organs, and organisms. Target diseases range from arthritis and cancer, to heart disease. In addition, they will obtain an overview of the field of Bioengineering and hear specialized lectures from forefront researchers. They will also learn about career pathways in Bioengineering.

The program is designed to provide students with a residential component as well as a commuter component. The first 3 weeks of the program are strictly residential. Students will be able to live in a dorm with others in the Academic Connections program so that they can experience first-hand college life. The last 3 weeks of the program are commuter based. Students will be responsible for their own accommodations and transportation to and from campus on the last 3 weeks.
Students will be able to rank the projects and faculty they would like to work in their application from the options below. Please read them carefully. There is also the option to have no preference in projects.

*Students will receive 12 units of Pre-college credit for attending the 6 week program. 

Program Dates: July 7th - August 16th, 2019 

Application Fee - $100

Tuition - $7,500 (Includes a residence fee and SAT test prep)

*Please note that the first 3 weeks of this program are residential. Students will move into the dorms on July 7th and move out on July 27th. They will be housed with students attending the Academic Connections program. All residential rules and policies will apply. 

Grade Level - Students must currently be in 10th -12 grade and 16 years of age before 7/7/2019

Minimum GPA - 3.0


Participating Faculty Memebers and Projects

*Students will be able to rank which faculty they would like to work with in their applications

Francisco Contijoch, PhD (Faculty ProfileLab Website)

Dr. Contijoch’s primary research interests are translational imaging techniques to better diagnose, monitor, and understand cardiac dysfunction and vascular disease. The student intern will help develop and apply novel magnetic resonance (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and echocardiography imaging techniques to better visualize function of the cardiovascular system. These techniques help to understand normal physiology, the processes which change during disease, and the response to treatments in the right ventricular dysfunction and pulmonary vascular disease.

Francisco Contijoch

Adam Engler, PhD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

The Engler lab studies the mechanobiology of stem cells, progenitor cells, and their progeny as well as cancer cells using methods of tissue engineering, biomaterials, cell and molecular biology, and genetics. This project will involve students developing new materials that stiffen with time to mimic the remodeling that occurs with heart disease. Participants will also use cutting edge genetic tools to create and use patient-derived stem cells to create heart cells. Patients with specific mutations will be studied within the biomaterial to determine what effects the stiffened environment has on mutant and wild-type cells.

Adam Engler

Prashant Mali, PhD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

Students will work on one of two projects:

(a) Gene Therapy: We engineer molecular reagents to enable precise edits in the genome or transcriptome of cells bearing disease causing mutations. We aim to test these in cells and eventually in mice. Researchers will learn and use techniques including cell culture, molecular biology, and synthetic biology.

(b) Cell Therapy: We develop and use a vascularized bioprinting platform to create tissues ex vivo. We aim to build functional and mature tissue constructs by incorporating constituent cells generated by differentiating pluripotent stem cells and by systematic evaluation of biomaterials, media, and the local cellular microenvironment. Researchers will learn and use techniques including cell culture, tissue engineering, and synthetic biology.

Prashant Mail

Andrew McCulloch, PhD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

The research focus of the Cardiac Mechanics Research Group is the mechanics and electrical dynamics of the normal and diseased heart from molecular to organ scales. We use computational modeling and integrated experiments to investigate excitation-contraction coupling and the role of mechanoelectric feedback in action potential propagation. The in-silico modeling includes signal transduction pathways involved in calcium cycling and hypertrophy. The research intern will use experimental and computational models to investigate the relationships between the cellular and extracellular structure of cardiac muscle and the electrical and mechanical function of the heart during ventricular remodeling and cardiac arrhythmia.  

Andrew McCulloch

Robert Sah, MD, ScD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

The Cartilage Tissue Engineering lab studies the dynamics of cartilage, bones, and joints that lead to their function, failure, and restoration. We conduct experiments and develop computational models to determine how mechanical factors cause joint deterioration after knee injury and in osteoarthritis. We study the repair of damaged cartilage with osteochondral (allo)grafts that are generally effective for repairing large areas of damaged cartilage but limited by donor availability. Students will conduct experiments involving (1) imaging and biomechanics to determine the structural basis of cartilage function and failure, or (2) tissue engineering and bioreactors to create more effective off-the-shelf osteochondral implants to resurface damaged joints.

Robert Sah

Daniela Valdez-Jasso, PhD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

We focus on soft-tissue biomechanics and multi-scale mathematical modeling of organ and tissue function, particularly as they pertain to understanding the adaptations of the heart, vessels, and lungs to pulmonary hypertension (PH). We incorporate key experimental findings into mechanistic mathematical models to evaluate quantitative computational formulations of organ and tissue function. The student will investigate the dynamic vascular remodeling process in PH at the tissue level, and use the results to evaluate effects at the system level.

Daniela Jasso

Yingxiao Wang, PhD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

The student will work on the development of genetically-encoded molecule biosensors based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and the application of these biosensors for the visualization and quantification of molecular signals in live cells with high spatiotemporal resolution under physical/mechanical environment. The results will integrate the cutting-edge technologies in molecular engineering, live cell imaging, and nanotechnology for the engineering of machinery molecules to reprogram cellular functions

Yingxiao Wang

Sameer Shah, PhD (Faculty Profile, Lab Website)

Professor Shah is an expert in the function, dysfunction and plasticity of the nervous and muscular systems.  His research priorities are to enhance surgical decision making and the development of physical therapy protocols by understanding relationships between the ultrastructure of peripheral nerves and their mechanical and physiological function.  He develops tissue engineering and biomedical device-based strategies for peripheral nerve regeneration.

BioEngineering Broad Overview and Techniques 2 Day Program

Session 1 - March 23rd and March 30th (2 Saturdays)

This session will focus on: Bioengineering the Musculoskeletal System - Imaging and Biomechanics

Students will obtain a broad overview of Bioengineering and hands on experience in bioengineering of the musculoskeletal system. See, stretch, compress, bend, break, and fix the tissues that are responsible for the shape, support, and movement of the body. Examine the knee, hip, and spine, and learn how cartilage, disc, meniscus, ligaments, and bones support our bodies!

Sessions 2 - March 24th and March 31st (2 Sundays) 

This session will focus on: Bioengineering Cells and Tissues - Differentiation and Growth

Students will obtain a broad overview of Bioengineering and hands on experience in bioengineering of cells and tissues. Visualize and image stem cells as they cause the development and growth of our body. Use light microscopy and imaging to visualize the growth, maturation, and death of cells in the growth plate. Learn how these coordinated cell fate processes are responsible normally for tissue growth, and when unrestrained can cause cancer.

Application Fee - $50 

Tuition - $400 (each session) 

Grade Level - Students must currently be in 9th -12 grade and 15 years of age before 3/22/2019

Minimum GPA - 3.0

Academic Schedule - Students are required to attend both days as well as participate online for a half day introduction to the program. This is a commuter program and students must arrange for transportation to and from UC San Diego. The schedule can be found here.

*Students will receive 1 unit of Pre-college credit for attending each session. 

BioEngineering Broad Overview and Techniques 5 Day Summer Program

This session will focus on: Mammalian Cell Culture - Foundations for Bioengineering, Tissue Engineering, and Regenerative Medicine

Students will obtain a broad overview of Bioengineering and hands-on skills in the fundamentals of mammalian cell culture. They will learn how to thaw, grow, propagate, and freeze mammalian cells. These are the core skills used in academia and industry to create new cell and tissue therapies, ranging from treating arthritis, to inducing heart regeneration, and curing cancer. 

Program Dates: June 24th - June 28th, 2019 

Application Fee - $75

Tuition - $1,000

Grade Level - Students must currently be in 9th -12 grade and 15 years of age before 6/23/2019

Minimum GPA - 3.0

Academic Schedule - Students are required to attend all 5 days of the program in order to avoid dismissal from the program. This is a commuter program and students must arrange for transportation to and from UC San Diego. The schedule can be found here

*Students will receive 3 units of Pre-College credit for attending the program. 

Other Program Information


Program information will be e-mailed to all students accepted into each of the Research Scholars programs. The student will receive a Student Handbook that should be reviewed with parents and the last page signed and returned to the Pre-College staff in a timely manner. 

For the 2 day program, students will be notified on 2/14/2019. 

For the 5 day and 6 week program, students will be notified on 3/19/2019. 

Cancellation/Refund Policies

All application fees are nonrefundable. 

Cancellation or withdrawal for any reason prior to March 1, 2019 will receive a full refund (2 day program only)

Cancellation or withdrawal for any reason prior to April 1, 2019 will receive a full refund (5 day and 6 week program only).

Cancellation or withdrawal for any reason April 2- May 31, 2019 will receive 50% refund (5 day and 6 week program only). 

Refunds for cancellation or withdrawal after June 1, 2019 (or March 2nd for the 2 day program) will be issued for serious illness (doctor's certificate is required) or extenuating circumstances only. Tuition is not refunded for students who are dismissed from the program or who leave because of homesickness.

All refund requests must be made in writing to Maysoon Dong, Sr. Program Manager, UCSD Pre-College Programs at: You will receive a confirmation of your request. Refunds will take approximately 4-6 weeks to process. Refunds are issued in the same method of payment (check or charge) of payment to UC San Diego Academic Connections.