Research Elective

Introduction to Psychiatry Research for Fourth-Year Medical Students



East Lansing Campus of Michigan State University

This elective is a four-week introduction to psychiatric research conducted on site at MSU in the Department of Psychiatry located in East Fee Hall. Students interested in either a general psychiatry residency or child and adolescent psychiatry are encouraged to apply. Students with research interests in behavior and mental health issues who are pursuing other residencies are also welcome to apply. Medical students are encouraged to have a general research topic of interest in mind before pursuing the elective.

Suitable psychiatric research interests include:

  • Adult suicide risk and behavior
  • Adolescent suicide risk and behavior
  • Adult substance use behavior and related problems
  • Adolescent substance use behavior and related problems
  • Adult depression
  • Child and adolescent depression
  • Child and adolescent risk-taking behaviors
  • Maladaptive eating behaviors in adolescents
  • Adult behavioral and psychiatric symptoms
  • Adult health behaviors with medical and psychology impact
  • Child and adolescent behaviors impacting health

Interested students should e-mail Dr. Quinlan to confirm the suitability of the area of interest before choosing the elective. Medical students will work with existing research data available through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other U.S. government sites on health research.  The following must be completed for the elective:

  • Complete a literature search on the topic of interest.
  • Critically appraise existing studies on the topic. 
  • Develop a study using existing data. Examples include comparing results of more recent health surveys with earlier published survey findings.
  • Complete the MSU Institutional Review Board training for new investigators.
  • Review statistics and work with a statistical consultant on the study's analysis of data.
  • Work on scientific writing skills to prepare the study as a research poster.
  • Present the completed poster at a regional scientific meeting. About 90 percent of past students have presented their work.
  • Introduction to other research opportunities in the MSU Department of Psychiatry.
  • Plan how the topic of interest and study from the elective may be developed into a required residency research project.

Elective availability is limited to five students per year and no more than one student may be scheduled in a single month.



Paul Quinlan, DO, MS (

MSU CHM Students interested in this elective should contact:

Sarah McVoy
CHM- Lansing Campus
Michigan State University
Sparrow Professional Building
1200 E. Michigan Avenue, Suite 640
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 364-5890

MSU COM Students interested in this elective should contact:

Callie Langenderfer
Department Clerkship Administrator
MSU Department of Psychiatry
965 Fee Road, Room A236-B
East Lansing, MI  48824
(517) 353-9245