Our Model

Since 2003, DDRF has awarded full- and part-time fellowships each year to a select group of exceptional medical students from top medical schools. The fellowships enable students to take a scholarly year to conduct clinical, practice-based research under the tutelage of leading physician-scientists in the field of gastroenterology. We engage private donors in support of our mission and collaborate with leading academic medical centers to recruit the best and brightest students. DDRF fellows describe the program as a highlight of their young careers.

DDRF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. 


“The Digestive Disease Research Foundation was instrumental in fostering my career as a gastroenterologist.”

-Jay Desai, MD, 2008 DDRF Fellow




Why focus on digestive diseases?

Digestive diseases impact the lives of more than 60 million Americans. Many digestive diseases are disabling, incurable and/or fatal. The economic impact of digestive diseases is estimated to be $107 billion annually in the United States alone. DDRF is dedicated to supporting the research of top physician-scientists and medical students whose contributions are advancing diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disease. 

Is there a need for funding for a scholarly year during medical school?

There is a large demand for a scholarly year among medical students and the supply of funding is small. Only approximately 5% of students who apply for a scholarly year nationwide achieve funding. A full year of dedicated research time under the one-to-one supervision of a talented mentor is transformative for a student’s career.

Why teach AN exceptional student to be A physician and A scientist, rather than one or the other?

Historically, physician-scientists have produced many of the major advances in combating disease. They unite the urgency of the ill patient with the power of the scientific method. Due to changes in the healthcare landscape they are an “endangered species.”

Why do established leaders in gastroenterology mentor students for a scholarly year?

Mentors experience professional rejuvenation and personal satisfaction through interacting with the next generation of curious minds. The fellow’s work contributes to research productivity and creativity.