Clinical Trials

A branch of medical research that investigates the safety and effectiveness of medications and treatments on human patients. While laboratory research tends to be more exploratory, clinical research focuses on evaluating and testing of new products.

Faculty sponsor

These can mean different people in different contexts. A faculty sponsor is usually the academic sponsor for your research if you are doing it for credit--this may be a different person from your PI if your PI is not a Homewood tenured professor (if he works at the medical school, for example).


The acronym for the Institutional Review Board, an ethical committee that regulates and evaluates on research proposals that have ethical implications. Any research that is done on human or animal subjects must go through an IRB review.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters from professors or faculty members that provide their perspective on your work, your character and your person that are provided to an external third party, which is usually graduate school, medical school or an employer.


The Principal Investigator. This is the head of your lab, usually a tenured faculty professor. He is the one you should email when discussing working in the lab.


Short for Post-doctoral fellows. These individuals have already graduated from a PhD program and are continuing to develop their research expertise but are not at the level of a principal investigator yet.


In scientific research, a publication is a research article, usually a collaborative effort from several members of a lab, that is published in a scholarly journal. A publication usually comes about a completion of a project, and is usually the goal of the researcher.

Research for Credit

A student can demonstrate a serious commitment to a lab by doing research for credit. The student is expected to come in regularly and to have some form of end product by the end of the semester, usually in the form of a research report. Research for credit, by definition, is NOT paid.


A resume is a short summary of a person's qualifications and experiences, usually written in a list format. It includes education, awards, work history, and other relevant information. A CV, or curriculum vitae, is similar, but generally more comprehensive and focused on a person's educational background. It may focus more on research, publications, and will display a greater breadth of the person's academic achievement.

Wet Lab/Dry Lab

Informal terms used to describe two different kinds of scientific labs. A wet lab involves working directly with tissue and cell culture, while a dry lab tends to be heavier on computation.