Summer Program In Diabetes & Obesity Research (SPIDOR)

SPIDOR is a 10-week (first 2-weeks online and 8-weeks in-person) summer research experience providing outstanding underrepresented students interested in science and medicine an opportunity to gain meaningful exposure to the exceptional research and clinical programs at the Keck School of Medicine (KSOM) of USC. 

Summer scholars will conduct cutting-edge diabetes/obesity research in the laboratories of faculty members from the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute (DORI). Students will be exposed to basic science, translational, and clinical research experiences. The summer session culminates with students presenting their research findings to the KSOM community.


Applications are closed

Program Runs May 28 - August 2, 2024

Program Director – Joyce Richey, PhD
Phone: 323-442-1939

Program Director – Richard M. Watanabe, PhD
Phone: 323-442-2053

Program Manager – Christina Ayala, MPH
Phone: 323-442-2500

Program Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be an underrepresented student as designated by the NIH
  • Completed at least 2 years of undergraduate study
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or greater

Selection will be based on:

  • An essay describing how this program will enhance your educational and career goals
  • Two faculty Letters of Recommendation (One Must be from a Faculty in the Life Science)
  • Official college transcript(s)

Program Highlights

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can letters of recommendation and transcripts be submitted after the deadline?

Yes, as long as your application form with your essay are submitted by the deadline, your
application will be considered on-time. However, recommendation letters and
transcripts are due the week after the application deadline.

  1. Can I still apply if I’m graduating with a bachelors in May 2024 (or prior)?

Yes, your application is welcomed as long as you are not accepted into a postbac or graduate program.
Please use your essay to explain how this program aligns with your future in
diabetes/obesity related research.

  1. If accepted into the program, is it mandatory to live in provided housing?

In an effort to encourage full immersion into the program, yes, it is mandatory.

4. My school semester/quarter ends after May 28, 2024, so can I still apply?

The first week of the program will be completing online trainings. The second week of the program will be live virtual didactic lectures, so all students must be available to attend them from June 3 – 7 from 9am to 4pm (please note that the final schedule is not finalized). Only applicants whose semester or quarter finals end before June 3, 2024, will be reviewed.

Comments from 2023 SPIDOR students:

  • I would 1000% recommend this program, it was a life-changing and extremely fulfilling experience. I have been a part of eight summer programs since my freshman year of high school and this program has been by far the best.
  • I really enjoyed how the program was not only research but also included shadowing and volunteering. I viewed this program to be very holistic which stands out from other programs.  This holistic approach gave me a lot to think about for the future.
  • ….. this program has left a lasting impression on me. My experiences from lectures, shadowing, and contributing to Dr. Kanoski’s lab reinforced my passion for the biological sciences and medicine. This program allowed me to build a network of USC faculty, medical students, and other pre-med students with whom I plan to stay in contact. This program immersed me in the school culture and gave me a better understanding of what it is like to be a USC student. In addition, I enjoyed learning and creating life-long bonds with other minority pre-med students.

SPIDOR Ceremony Presentations

  • 2023
  • 2022
  • 2021
  • 2019
  • 2018

DORI Pilot Program

The DORI pilot program was implemented to establish a track record in pilot funding and to build a critical mass of collaborative research. Pilot awards funded through DORI have supported new investigators, career development, new technologies, and team science. Since 2013, the DORI pilot program has invested $685,000 on funding a total of 14 awards supporting 12 pilot projects, two of which received a second year of support.

Principal Investigators of the pilot studies come from a diverse background and their work characterizes the integrated and translational theme of the DORI.  DORI pilot projects have been successful in producing high-impact findings, and awardees have demonstrated a high success rate in translating their work into larger, externally funded projects.


We aim to reduce these social & health disparities through the development of novel precision options for treatment & prevention tailored to ethnicity & stage of life

Clinical & translational research in patient populations served by USC

Convergent science to harness & leverage unique resources & expertise across KSOM& USC through a diversity of disciplines

Effective health behavior strategies built on community engagement

Our Main Focus

Obesity and diabetes are major health burdens especially in poor and under-represented minorities. DORI establishes a unified vision across University of Southern California (USC) focused on:

DORI’s Unique Focus on Disparities
in Obesity & Diabetes

Annual DORI Symposium

Check out the latest in diabetes research from our 2023 DORI Symposium; featuring doctors, scientists and researchers from top universities and research institutes across the globe.