LDI SUMR Program rolls into 21st year despite COVID-19 disruptions

This year's cohort of the LDI Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) Scholars are spending their summer with their mentors in video conferences aimed at racial disparities in academic research.

For the 21st year, and amid the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 lockdown, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) has convened its annual three-month Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) Scholars program aimed at attracting students from underrepresented minority groups to the field of health services research.

BlueJeans screen shot of SUMR 2020 cohort participants.
The 21st cohort of the LDI Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) Scholars are spending their summer together with their mentors in video conferences. 

In June, SUMR welcomed 13 new health care-focused scholars who are spending their summer virtually immersed in the world of Penn’s research community. During the regular school year, the students are involved in a variety of studies including Psychology, Mathematical Economics, Health Policy & Law, Nursing Science, and at the Penn School of Dental Medicine.

The twelve-week SUMR curriculum pairs each student with at least one faculty mentor and that mentor’s ongoing research project. The SUMR concept is to engage young scholars in real research activities rather than classroom simulations. This year, they continue to work on such projects under the direction of 19 faculty mentors from Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, the Wharton School, the School of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Nursing. Simultaneously, they attend an intense schedules of lectures and seminars by some of Penn’s and the country’s top health care experts.

SUMR—an initiative created to help reduce racial inequities in the health care professions—occurs this year at the intersection of two extraordinary national crises. The first is the coronavirus pandemic that is wildly disrupting and transforming health care; the second is a populist uprising demanding a national reckoning with the structural racism that has characterized U.S. society for 400 years. Both issues weighed heavily on the minds of mentors and scholars.

Read more at Penn LDI.