In a typical year, Alfaisal University College of Medicine sponsors summer research opportunities for medical students both on- and off-campus, complete with weekly workshops, lectures and hands-on training in laboratory, clinical and community-building activities. But this year, Alfaisal Alumni provided an alternative to serve their prospective colleagues by designing a creative, extensive, integrated and rewarding online summer research program in two major core public health areas namely, vaccination and infectious diseases.

Dr. Mohammad Abrar Shareef (Internal Medicine Physician at Sebasticook Valley Hospital, Pittsfield, Maine, USA) as well as Dr. Abdulhadi A. AlAmodi (Doctor of Public health student at Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi, USA), and Dr. Abdulaziz M. Eshaq (Alfaisal University College of Medicine graduate) designed, implemented and conducted a summer training program in Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis involving 24 medical students across all academic levels. The program was involved theoretical part (two weeks) and practical (two weeks). Students were exposed to the basics of understanding, interpreting, and conducting systematic review and meta-analysis which is the highest level of evidence in the hierarchy of research.

The students were divided into five groups covering research topics related to flu and human papilloma virus vaccination coverage, uptake and practice in the general public as well as topics related to the current COVID-19 pandemic evaluating its impact on immunocompromised individuals as well as assessment of the general public perception toward this evolving pandemic.

The program’s outcome was impressive as currently three research articles are under submission and two other ones in the process of finalizing the manuscripts. The design of the program ensure that participant’s experience would be culminated by disseminating the effort and hard work into peer-reviewed manuscripts published in top leading medical journals worldwide. The program’s coordinators as well the students expressed their great appreciation for Alfaisal leadership as well as Sheikh Abdullah Ahmed Bugshan for sponsoring the program and students’ fees.