MD/PhD students generally face two difficult transitions. The first is when they begin graduate training after the first two years of basic science work. The second comes when they return to medical school after their dissertation is completed.
We ease these passages by assigning a mentor who serves on the MD/PhD Advisory Board for each MD/PhD student from the very start of matriculation. These clinician and clinician-scientist faculty help students maintain patient skills (by attending ward rounds and clinics) and by discussing the clinical applications of their doctoral research. We ensure that students hit the ground running with respect to their graduate research projects by arranging research opportunities in the summers after the first and second years of medical school (some students will also opt to do lab rotations in the summer before the first year; we maintain this as an option since this transitional summer may be the last free summer they will have for some time). Students are also encouraged to attend lab meetings of prospective mentors, to begin to design their research projects before actually entering the lab, and to attend a course that will prepare them to apply for extramural funding (e.g. NIH F30 grant to support MD/PhD students) in the summer following their first year in their chosen mentored lab. Regular one-on-one and monthly group meetings throughout the academic year between the trainees and the MD/PhD Program Director ensure that the progress of trainees is closely monitored at each stage and transitional event during the course of their training. This mechanism will be tightly integrated with a newly implemented oversight and approval process through the MD/PhD Advisory Board. Dedicated workshops and a “Distinguished Lecturer” seminar series will provide additional structure and dedicated content to the trainee experience. Regular group social events throughout the academic year will foster a sense of identity and culture for this group of trainees who are being prepared to take on a special mission and who are expected to make a unique and valuable contribution to advancing biomedical research and clinical translational science for the benefit of the patients and diverse populations served by national and international healthcare systems.
Information about faculty members affiliated with the Ph.D. program, the Interdisciplinary Program (IDP) in Biomedical Sciences, is available via a web-based search engine.