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Utah Summer Training Academy for Rising Surgeons (2023 applications closed)

USTARS scholars with Dr. Jeremiah Alt and Dr. Rob Glasgow

The University of Utah School of Medicine Department of Surgery hosts the Utah Summer Training Academy for Rising Surgeons (USTARS) program through the Department of Surgery in collaboration with the Departments of Anesthesia, Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics.

We structured this robust, 6-week summer program around professional identity development, surgical skills development, exposure to clinical care, and understanding of research principles.

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

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 Department of Surgery, Anesthesia, Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics. The Surgical Departments at the University of Utah have an enormous breadth of academic surgeons that span the Divisions of General Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Urology, Plastic Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, and the Transplant Division.

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

We are now accepting applications for USTARS 2023, which will run from May 22, 2023, to June 29, 2023. The Program Director may invite candidates for a video interview when deemed necessary.

2023 APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED (deadline was 2.10.23)

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, as defined by the Association of American Medical Colleges as “those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population.”
  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 $3,000
  5. Cascading and longitudinal mentorship
  6. Social activities

How to Apply

The 2023 Applications are now closed (deadline was 2.10.23).  The Program Director may invite candidates for a video interview when deemed necessary.

Candidates who meet the above criteria should apply by sending:

  • A one-page personal statement describing your interest in the program
  • 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 (

USTARS scholars hiking

To Apply Contact

Dr. Elliot Asare


Undergraduate Degree: University of Missouri-Columbia, Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Minor of Psychology.  MPH Specialization in Epidemiology/Biostatistics.

Medical School: University of Louisville

Undergraduate Degree: Texas Southern University, Bachelor of Science Biology, Minor in Chemistry

Medical School: Howard University

Undergraduate Degree: Spelman College, Bachelor of Science in Biology

Medical School: Howard University

Undergraduate Degree: University of South Carolina, Bachelor of Science Exercise Science

Medical School: Howard University

Undergraduate Degree: University of Louisville, Bachelors of Science in Psychology

Medical School: University of Louisville



  • 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.