As a result of a generous gift from Jim Vann (Davidson Class of 1950) and Lee Stanton Vann, two Fellowships for biomedical ethics research will be available to Davidson College students at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for approximately 10 weeks (roughly June 1 to August 5) during the summer of 2021.

Fellows will be selected through the competitive application process described below.

The Vann Fellowship is a component of Mayo Clinic's Summer Program in Biomedical Ethics Research, which sponsors 4-6 students each year. Each student is placed with a faculty mentor to work on a particular research project for the summer. In addition to conducting mentored research, students participate in robust ethics education curriculum to provide insight and understanding to seminal and cutting edge ethical issues. Students will have a multitude of educational opportunities within Mayo Clinic. The anticipated wage for 2021 is $13/hour, at approximately 40 hours per week.

Interested applicants should apply to job posting 148166BR: Bioethics Intern on the Mayo Clinic jobs website by Friday, April 9, 2021. Open to first-year students, sophomores, and juniors and graduating seniors. Students who have already participated in the program are not eligible, but previous applicants are encouraged to reapply.

Applications must include the following items: 

  • A cover letter describing your career goals and how biomedical ethics research relates to those plans;
  • A resume/CV that includes your major and relevant courses, honors, and experiences;
  • A 5-10-page writing sample (such as a course paper), preferably on a topic related to biomedical ethics;
  • A current, unofficial college transcript;
  • Two letters of recommendation from a Davidson professor or research mentor. Address letters to Dr. Richard Sharp, Program Director. Letters either can be uploaded by the candidate into the application system, or emailed directly by the professor/mentor to

Applicants will be reviewed by a committee of biomedical ethics and professionalism faculty and researchers at the Mayo Clinic. Top applicants will be invited to participate in a brief phone interview to discuss specific skills and areas of interest. Final decisions will be made in part based on applicants’ interests and availability of appropriate mentors. All students must pass a background check and post-offer placement assessment prior to their start date.

Examples of research topics that might be explored include:

  • Ethical issues in life-sustaining treatments and end-of-life care - Research ethics
  • Ethical issues in regenerative medicine and transplantation - Allocation of health care resources
  • Ethical issues in genomics and individualized medicine - Professionalism in medicine and science
  • Research related to clinical ethics consultation - Reproductive ethics and prenatal testing

At the conclusion of the summer Fellowship term, Fellows must report on the work they performed, their findings or insights, and their evaluation of the experience. This may entail a presentation to a committee at the Mayo Clinic as well as one or two presentations at Davidson College in the fall. 

For further information or specific questions, contact Dr. Jessica Hirsch, Biomedical Ethics Education Coordinator at 507-538-4023 or For further information about Mayo Clinic, click the website link below. 

Website: Mayo Clinic
Application: Apply online
Deadline: April 9, 2021      
Contact: Naila Mamoon (