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Utah Summer Training Academy for Rising Stars

USTARS group with Department of Surgery Chair

The University of Utah School of Medicine Departments of Surgery, Anesthesiology, Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics  are proud to host the Utah Summer Training Academy for Rising Stars (USTARS) Program which is focused on rising stars interested in academic surgery or anesthesiology. 

This is a robust 6-week summer program structured around professional identity development, perioperative and intraoperative skills development, exposure to clinical care, and understanding of research principles. This program has two distinct pathways tailored toward candidates interested in Surgery or Anesthesiology. Two candidates will participate in the anesthesiology track while the other students will participate in the surgery track based on their declared interest.

Our program faculty are experts in their fields and are committed to training and sharing their experience with the next generation of surgeons and anesthesiologists.

Mentorship is the central component of the USTARS program; therefore, we pair each participant with a resident mentor and a faculty mentor. We also aim to provide longitudinal mentorship to participants beyond the 6-week program.

In addition to the formal curriculum, program participants will have the unique opportunity to meet informally with additional faculty within the Departments of Surgery, Anesthesiology, Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics. The Surgical and Anesthesia  Services at the University of Utah have an enormous breadth of academic faculty with world-class expertise who also participate in cutting-edge research. 

There will be scheduled social activities throughout the program to expose participants to the rich culture and natural beauty of Salt Lake City, Utah.

We are accepting applications for USTARS 2024, which will run from May 19, 2024, to June 29, 2024. The Program Director may invite candidates for a video interview if necessary.

Application deadline: February 16, 2024.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Students who demonstrate a commitment to increasing the number of and/or improving the educational experience of physicians and medical students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine.
  2. Students must be in good academic standing and must have completed their first year of medical school (MS1) at an allopathic or osteopathic school in the United States.
  3. Have an interest in a career in surgery or curious to explore a career in surgery.
  4. Must be able to travel to Salt Lake City and participate fully in all program activities for the 6-week period.
USTARS scholars with residents
USTARS scholars with Dr. Tom Varghese and clinical staff

Program Highlights

  1. 6-week summer immersive program in academic surgery with structured curriculum
  2. Free on-campus student housing
  3. Free UTA TRAX public transportation pass
  4. Competitive stipend of $2,000
  5. $500 airfare reimbursement
  6. Cascading and longitudinal mentorship
  7. Social activities

How to Apply

The 2024 applications are now open. Application deadline: February 16, 2024.  

Candidates who meet the above criteria should apply by sending:

  • A one-page personal statement describing your unique background and experiences and how our program can help you achieve your academic and career goals. Please declare a track (Anesthesiology or Surgery) and highlight your interest in this track in your personal statement.
  • Your current curriculum vitae (CV).
  • A letter of good academic standing from their Dean of Academic Affairs.

Send all application materials to Dr. Elliot Asare ( The Program Director may invite candidates for a video interview if necessary.

USTARS scholars hiking

To Apply Contact

Dr. Elliot Asare



  • Keenya Frazier successfully submitted a research abstract, titled "Temporal, Geographic, and Socioeconomic Factors Affect Incidence and Outcomes in Acute Invasive Fungal Sinusitis," to the American Rhinologic Society at COSM. The abstract will be presented as a poster in May 2024.


  • Nkemdirim Ugochukwu was a contributing author in the following publication:
    • Pearson, John MDa; Jacobson, Cameron MSa; Ugochukwu, Nkemdirim MSb; Asare, Elliot MDc; Kan, Kelvin MDa; Pace, Nathan MDa; Han, Jiuying MSd; Wan, Neng PhDd; Schonberger, Robert MDe; Andreae, Michael MDa. Geospatial analysis of patients’ social determinants of health for health systems science and disparity research. International Anesthesiology Clinics 61(1):p 49-62, Winter 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/AIA.0000000000000389 (see full publication)
  • Ashley Medley was accepted to present at the following conference:
    • Ashley Medley, Courtney Scaife. “Case series of a low cost technique for laparoscopic biopsy small specimen retrieval”. Accepted for presentation at the Southwestern Surgical Conference, May 16 to May 19, 2023, Ojai Valley, CA




USTARS alumni meet with Dr. Lambert (general surgery PD) in Washington D.C.