COVID-19 Update: Penn Summer staff are available online or by phone at (215) 898-7326. More Info & Resources >
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Biomedical Research Academy

July 1 - July 23, 2021

Applications for 2021 programs are now closed. Applications for 2022 summer programs open on December 1, 2021.

Courses offered online

Courses offered online

Non-credit program

Non-credit program


Eligibility: Current 9th-11th grade students

International students

International students welcome

Financial Aid

Financial aid for select Philadelphia students

The Biomedical Research Academy introduces the experimental basis of cellular, molecular, and genetic aspects of biology, focusing on relevance to diseases. Fusing live daily lectures, faculty research talks, and small group investigation into current research topics, students gain insight into the core of biomedical research, including experimental design, cutting-edge technologies, and recent advances in high-interest fields of research. Students are expected to dedicate approximately six hours daily to the academy (typically three and a half hours per day for live instruction, and about two and a half hours per day working asynchronously) for the duration of the program.

To keep our students safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Penn Arts and Sciences staff is dedicated to making our high-quality programs available this summer—completely online.

If you attend a School District of Philadelphia public or charter high school, you may be eligible to attend a Penn Summer Academy free of charge with a Penn Summer Scholarship.

Get application information »


Lectures and discussions: Attend virtual classes that will meet via Zoom from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST where class discussions include conversations with scientists, clinicians, and faculty from the Department of Biology and Penn’s School of Medicine to learn about research experts that are performing at the bench and the solutions they’re seeking to apply at the bedside.

Laboratory: Walk through the processes of technique conception, experimental design and troubleshooting, and conclusion drawing through the lens of a biological problem presented to students from a team of veteran laboratory instructors. Students experience several experimental modules and learn to leverage several distinct techniques. Laboratory sessions occur daily from 1 - 2 p.m. and also require independent work.

Journal club: Discuss peer-reviewed research articles in critical depth within small group journal clubs where lessons from lectures and discussions are applied to current biomedical research. Students explore seminal papers in a research topic of interest for one hour each day, learning to read, interpret, analyze, and critique primary research. Each student is placed in a single journal club, which will meet either before lecture or after laboratory sessions.


  • One year of high school biology is required for application
  • One year of high school chemistry is strongly advised

Penn Summer online system requirements

We recommend that all operating systems, browsers, Flash, and other software be up to date before the start of each online class. Most courses use Canvas for assignments, discussion, and watching video, and synchronous sessions can happen in a variety of platforms. Students will receive all important information before the beginning of class. 

See more system requirements >


Kieran Dilks, PhD

Program Co-Director: Kieran Dilks, PhD
Dr. Dilks teaches high school in Haddonfield, New Jersey and is a part-time biology instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. He loves the subject matter and is passionate about inspiring and teaching the next generation of biomedical researchers. Dr. Dilks earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University from 2006-2007, and has been teaching at high school and university ever since.

Program Director: Linda Robinson, PhD

Program Co-Director: Linda Robinson, PhD
Dr. Robinson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology and an Instructional Laboratory Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania, where she designs teaching labs for and teaches some of the undergraduate biology courses. Dr. Robinson received her PhD from Washington University in St. Louis and has been teaching at Penn since 2000.