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Medical Student Research

Our Department has a diverse portfolio of research activities in women's health that spans the spectrum from basic biological, translational and clinical investigation to epidemiological inquiry and the development of public health policy. The spirit of cooperation and innovation, coupled with an unswerving standard of excellence, has been conducive to the development of the Department as one of the preeminent academic research institutions for women's health and disease.

We are no longer able to offer research opportunities to visiting students, but we encourage learners to apply for paid research coordinator positions via the UCSF HR jobs site.

If you are interested in any of the research opportunities listed below, please reach out to the person listed under "Contact" directly.





Oncofertility The Division of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility within Department of OB/GYN is looking for medical student(s) to work on our oncofertility database. We have the one of the largest databases in the world of cancer patients undergoing fertility preservation, and there is potential for many publications from this database. We are currently working on updating cancer outcomes in our Redcap database (through APEX record review) and are looking for medical students to help with this task. Once the database is updated, there will be potential to generate many interesting analyses on longer-term cancer outcomes and fertility over time in this patient population. [email protected]  
REI - Ovarian Aging Study In this study, we will be exploring the relationship between ovarian aging and cardiovascular disease, and potential interactions between social determinants of health (ex. race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status). We hypothesize that ovarian age and the rate of ovarian aging can be a window into a woman’s systemic health. The markers that have been established to determine the ovarian reservoir [antral follicle count (AFC) and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH)] from the original OVA study, along with cardiometabolic risk factors, may help us predict and, consequently, take steps to prevent cardiovascular disease in women. [email protected] Mission Bay
REI - DESCRT DESCRT will be a long-term study that both looks back in time, at successful pregnancies, and forward in time at early pregnancy and long-term as these children grow. Currently, there are limited data on the long-term effects of infertility and infertility treatments on children. There are some studies to suggest that these children may have altered metabolic profiles, but this study aims to be the largest study to answer this question. We will need over 2000 participants; your participation will be incredibly valuable! [email protected] Mission Bay
Population mobility, migration, HIV/AIDS, PrEP, TaSP, fisherfolk

We have a number of active projects and collaborations within our portfolio in the following areas: prevention and treatment (TaSP& PrEP), novel technologies, alcohol/substance abuse, micro lending and livelihood interventions, and behavioral economics (cash transfers, incentives). Our portfolio includes various mixed method studies where we are leading qualitative ancillary studies, as well as large cluster and community randomized trials with both quantitative and qualitative components. Areas of focus include human mobility and migration, prevention among key pops including men/fishermen and youth. We also have a five year study exploring the use of social networks to advance prevention and care among fishermen. We primarily work in east Africa with active projects in Kenya and Uganda. We have a number of active projects that provide opportunities for quantitative , qualitative, or mixed-methods research expertise.

We are especially interested in and committed to advancing the careers of URM students/researchers, as well as fostering cross-country collaboration and mentorship (with colleagues in the Global south).


SEARCH Project

Diane Havlir, MD and Maya Petersen, MD, PhD (Co-PI's, UCSF)

Remote through COVID-19/ ANSIRH- Oakland thereafter, with remote possibilities.
Social media use and other sources of social support during pregnancy Many Centering Pregnancy groups at UCSF organize an unmoderated social media group specific to the membership of their centering group. While other Mobile Health (mHealth) interventions have been identified as successful in the peripartum period, the participants’ engagement, the educational and social support benefits, and successes and challenges of these social media groups are largely unknown. We would like to collect preliminary data from Centering Pregnancy participants to further understand the role and utility of an add-on social media group, to understand participants experiences with other educational or telehealth support for informing care in the COVID-19 era, and to support a subsequent grant application. Alison El Ayadi, [email protected] Bixby Center

Abortion and Contraception Research

Research to improve medication and aspiration abortion technologies, access, and abortion care.

Contraception research on contraceptive methods, use and satisfaction.

Jennifer Kerns, MD MPH

Bixby Center

Person-Centered Reproductive Health Program (PCRHP)

Person Centered Reproductive Health is dedicated to the idea that people should be at the heart of all family planning efforts. Through listening, practitioners can best meet their reproductive needs and ensure their reproductive autonomy.

Christine Dehlendorf, MD MAS

Bixby Center/ OAKLAND

Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)

Conducts innovative, rigorous, multidisciplinary research on complex issues related to people’s sexual and reproductive lives, to advance evidence-based policy, practice, and public discourse.

Diana Greene Foster, PhD

Bixby Center

Beyond the Pill

Improves access to effective contraception through research, provider training, and patient education tools.

Clinic Team Training.

Cynthia Harper, PhD

Bixby Center

Education Research

Research to improve training of physicians and nurses in sexual and reproductive health, structural determinants of health and trauma informed care.

Aliza Adler

Bixby Center


Human endometrial function and regeneration, genetics and epigenetics of endometriosis, placental-uterine interactions relevant to pregnancy outcomes, and evaluating the evidence of environmental impacts on reproductive health and human development.


Human endometrium, endometriosis and adenomyosis at the cellular, molecular and genomic level.

Linda Giudice, MD, PhD --
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Effects on Human Neuronal Development During human pregnancy, the embryo/fetus is exposed to thousands of unique environmental chemicals with unknown consequences. My research aims to determine the potential effects of these compounds and to identify the mechanistic links between environmental exposures in utero and adverse developmental outcomes (e.g., neuro-developmental disorders, neural tube defects, placental diseases). Joshua Robinson, PhD --
Prenatal Genetic Testing Study to assess whether there are disparities in the offer chromsomal microarray (a genetic test that has a higher yield than traditional karyotype, and is recommended to be offered to all women undergoing prenatal genetic diagnostic procedures) at the time of prenatal genetic diagnostic procedure (i.e. amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling). We hypothesize that women with limited English proficiency will be offered microarray at lower rates that English proficient patients. Katherine Swanson, MD --
Repro-Endo Infertility Various REI projects are available.  Contact to discuss current opportunities and your interests. Eduardo Hariton, MD, MBA, Jerrine Morris, MD, MPH  
Racism, COVID-19, & police violence

Are the kids alright?: Exploring how the intersecting crises of racism, COVID-19, and police violence against Black bodies impact health among Black youth in Oakland, San Francisco, and Fresno

This project will take a mixed methods approach, including surveys, focus group discussions (FGDs), key informant interviews (KIIs), and digital storytelling (DST), to explore how the intersecting crises of COVID-19, police violence against Black people, and racism impacts the lives of youth in Oakland, San Francisco, and Fresno, particularly Black youth and their health decision-making.

April Bell, PhD, MPH Remote

1. OB outcomes in patients with various subtypes of endometriosis. Data for this study is already collected. Medical student may assist with: Comprehensive Literature review using PubMed/ EPMC, Manuscript preparation

2. Prevalence, clinical and surgical phenotypes of endometriosis among women of different races and ethnicities. Medical student may assist with: Comprehensive Literature review using PubMed/ EPMC, Study design, IRB, grant preparation, data abstraction, analysis, and manuscript preparation

3. Disparities in endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain management: a) allocation of opioids/pain management, specialty consultations, and surgical interventions using national ED and surgical databases. b) Pre and post-covid delays in hysterectomy/endometriosis surgery by race. Medical student may assist with: Comprehensive Literature review using PubMed/ EPMC, Study design, IRB, data abstraction, analysis, and manuscript preparation

4. Comprehensive Clinical, Epidemiologic and Genomic Database for Endometriosis and Related Disorders. This is a cross-sectional clinical research study. Patients are currently recruited from our UCSF Minimally Invasive Gynecology clinic and Endometriosis Center to collect clinical and surgical phenotyping of endometriosis patients to link to Linda Giudice’s genomic tissue bank. Information collected to be used in a pilot research study on “Comparative Analysis of Cancer-Associated Mutations (CAMs) in Nonmalignant Endometriosis Subtypes” using the UCSF 500 panel and other studies above. IRB completed for a database. Grant is written and submitted for CAMs study. Medical student may assist with: Data collection from surgical and pathology reports, IRB preparation for CAM study, Data analysis and manuscript for several associated studies through this database

5. Retrospective review of testosterone supplementation in transgender patients with endometriosis. Medical student may assist with: Comprehensive Literature review using PubMed/ EPMC, Study design, IRB, grant preparation, data abstraction, analysis, and manuscript preparation

6.Prevalence of adolescent endometriosis. Data collected, study completed. Medical student may assist with: Manuscript revisions for submission to the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology

Chinomnso Okorie --
Female genital fistula

Fistula is a debilitating injury that affects 2 to 3 million women, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Women with fistula have uncontrollable leakage of urine and/or feces (among other physical symptoms), are heavily stigmatized, and experience high psychiatric morbidity. Preliminary evidence has identified risk of fistula recurrence, incontinence, and pregnancy complications following fistula repair. However, the evidence base regarding the factors contributing to these adverse outcomes is severely underdeveloped, limiting the development of clinical interventions to reduce these adverse risks to women, preventing them from re-experiencing the consequences of fistula, and hindering efforts to improve pregnancy outcomes and quality of life. This project will address the critical gaps in knowledge on risk of adverse outcomes following fistula repair by conducting a longitudinal cohort study of 800 women repaired for fistula in 9 Ugandan facilities. We seek to identify predictors of post-repair fistula breakdown and recurrence (Aim 1), to identify predictors and characteristics of post-repair incontinence (Aim 2), and to engage key stakeholders in a theory-guided iterative process to develop a roadmap of intervention strategies likely to be feasible and acceptable within this setting (Aim 3).

We anticipate this study will start in early 2021 so are currently looking for student involvement in study set-up activities including SOP and instrument development and testing; however, we will be collecting a broad variety of longitudinal data and eventually will have data-related opportunities (analysis, manuscript development, etc).

Alison El Ayadi, ScD, MPH --