Operation Smile Research Fellowship

This fellowship is currently not being offered.

This fellowship is part of an international collaboration between the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, Operation Smile and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The annual research placement offers two to three scholars the opportunity to assist in research focusing on understanding the unique genetic and environmental risk factors of orofacial clefts for children living in low-resource countries.

Selected fellows will join the CHLA- based research team, currently recruiting families from a number of low- and middle- income countries, to assist in maintaining the research study. When possible (based on travel availability and collection timing), fellows will be given a funded opportunity to travel to a research site to collect both the risk factor questionnaire data and saliva samples for genetic analysis.

Scope of Work

  • Complete Human Subjects, Good Clinical Practices and HIPAA certifications
  • Conduct literature reviews and background research
  • Enter data from the maternal and paternal questionnaires
  • Assist with data cleaning and analysis
  • Prepare research materials for international shipping
  • Maintain study documents
  • Prepare for trip or other approved project if travel is not possible
  • If traveling:
    • Conduct training with local in-country researchers
    • Collect data, ensuring quality control
    • Enter sample data post-trip
  • If not traveling:
    • Conduct project analysis or research
    • Collect and enter data where necessary
    • Work with both local and international team members to contextualize and complete the proposed work
  • Finalize post-trip or project paper and/or presentation


  • Enrolled part- or full-time USC students only
  • MPH graduate students preferred; exceptional undergraduates considered. Medical students not eligible however please email global.health@usc.edu for information on opportunities available for med students with Operation Smile.
  • Flexible, independently motivated, organized, reliable, detail-oriented and culturally sensitive
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Fluency in other languages preferred
  • 5-15 hours per week for both fall and spring semesters, Summer when possible
  • Flexible scheduling and work hours
  • Special consideration given to students during university holidays, breaks and final exam periods
  • USC Health Sciences Campus – Norris Harlyne Cancer Research Tower & USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health offices at the Soto Building (1x per week)
  • Work from home for approximately 75% of your time commitment
  • Please note this experience is unpaid but the funded trip will cover all costs related to travel including flight, accommodations, ground transportation, visas and related expenses.

View past Operation Smile Fellows »

Learn more about the fellows »