At the University of Minnesota, there has been an explosion of interest in immunology and the role it plays in everyday health, this has led to the creation of a world-class, NIH-funded immunology program, through the Medical School’s Center for Immunology. We now offer an eight week program to six first-year University of Minnesota medical students, this opportunity is for a mentor directed-research experience in the area of Infection and Immunity, within the Center for Immunology. Successful applicants to this program not only attain a greater appreciation for scientific discovery and immunology to aid them in their future medical practice, but also they lay the ground work for entry into an Academic Medicine career pathway. In addition to a mentored research experience, students participate in weekly immunology literature reviews and focused discussions on immunity and health between faculty and current Center for Immunology students. Participants also have the opportunity to participate in the development of a research poster and PowerPoint presentations from their work, as well as an opportunity to present their scientific results at the national conference for the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
In 2016, participants in the Summer Medical Student Research program became known as "Mescher Scholars." This is in honor of the founder and first director of the Center for Immunology, Dr. Matthew Mescher. Dr. Mescher served as the director of the Center for Immunology for 18 years. During his time at the U of M, Dr. Mescher also served as the Utz Chair in Immunology in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, published over 135 papers (3 of which have earned a spot on the CFI Wall of Honor), and obtained and directed a NIH P01 grant on Immune Tolerance that is now in its 22nd year. Throughout his tenure as the CFI director, Dr.Mescher led the recruitments of numerous faculty members, many of whom have earned places of excellence as part of the program – 3 of the 9 NIH Merit Award holders at the U of M are CFI investigators, as are 4 of 39 members of the AHC Academy of Excellence in Health Research. A recent AAI president can even be counted a member of the CFI faculty. Thanks to Dr. Mescher, Immunology is recognized as a part of the MICaB graduate program and the U of M Immunology program is now the 30th ranked immunology program in the world according to US News and World Reports. Dr. Mescher retired from the University of Minnesota in November 2015 and gave his final lecture at the AAI President’s Symposium in New Orleans.