Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), PhD/Medicine, MD

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Field of Study: Various (Biochemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Cell Biology, Clinical Translational Science, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Genetics and Genome Sciences, Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Molecular Virology, Neurosciences, Nutrition, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics, or Systems Biology and Bioinformatics)

Degree: Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Medicine (MD) Program Information

Program Overview

A combined MD/PhD program in biomedical sciences, the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is available for students desiring research careers in medicine and related biosciences. This program takes seven to eight years to complete, depending on the time needed to complete the PhD dissertation research. Financial support includes a stipend and full tuition support.

Candidates must meet established prerequisites for admission to both the School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Studies. Criteria include demonstrated capabilities in research and superior undergraduate academic credentials. Applicants must have either U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status to be considered for admission to the MSTP. Information can be obtained by contacting the MSTP program or from the program website.  Admissions are coordinated via the School of Medicine admissions program and the AMCAS application.

The first two years of the MSTP are centered on the University Program pre-clinical core medical school curriculum, which occupies five mornings each week. Afternoons include time for graduate courses and/or research rotations, as well as clinical training, thus integrating the medical school and graduate school experiences. The next three to four years are devoted to completion of graduate courses and PhD thesis research in one of the multiple MSTP-affiliated graduate programs. During the PhD phase, MSTP students participate in the MSTP Clinical Tutorial, a program designed to enhance clinical skills and allow students to develop connections between their research and clinical interests (this further addresses the goal of integrating medicine and science). After completion of the PhD program, students return to medical school for two years to complete clinical clerkships and finish the MD curriculum.

The program is administered by the MSTP Steering Committee, which consists of faculty from both basic science and clinical departments. Its functions include selecting candidates for admission, designing and administering the program curriculum, advising students and evaluating student progress.

MSTP Activities

The MSTP supports several activities that enhance the scientific and professional development of students. These activities also foster a vibrant and collegial MSTP community with a strong sense of mission in the training of physician scientists.  The student-directed MSTP Council coordinates many activities of the CWRU MSTP. The Council meets once each month to discuss activities that are run by different student committees. The overall goals of the MSTP Council are to identify objectives for the program, to allow students to initiate programs to enhance the MSTP, to encourage increased student involvement in the operation of the MSTP, and to enhance development of leadership skills of MSTP students. The president, vice president, and secretary are all elected for a one-year period. Committees are led by 1-3 committee chairs who take charge of committee activities and coordinate the involvement of other students in the committee activities. All students are welcome and encouraged to participate in the various committees and to attend the council meetings. Recent Council committees and other program activities have included the following:

1.     Monthly Dinner Meeting Committee

This committee is responsible for planning monthly dinner meetings, selecting topics, speakers, and menus. The series is organized by students and is attended by students, Steering Committee members, and research mentors. Invited speakers (students, faculty, alumni and outside speakers) address issues pertinent to research, professional issues, career development or other topics of interest. The informal environment at these gatherings promotes social and professional interactions.

2.     Communications and Webpage Committee

This committee organizes communications and the CWRU MSTP website content.

3.     Summer Retreat Committee

This committee plans the summer retreat.

4.     M1 bonding

This committee organizes events for first year MSTP students, to integrate them into the program and the community.  

5.     Community Service Committee

Plans events for involvement of MSTP students in community service.

6.     Social Committee

This important committee plans fun events throughout the year!

7.     Student Representative to Faculty Council

One student is selected to represent the MSTP on Faculty Council.

8.     Student Representative to the Committee on Medical Education

One student is selected to represent the MSTP at the monthly School of Medicine CME meetings

9.     Representative to the Graduate Student Senate

10.   MSTP Women’s Committee

Women in the MSTP organize luncheons or other meetings to discuss issues that face women pursuing careers in science. Students may invite a successful woman scientist who provides a role model as a physician scientist.

11.   Scientific meetings

The program strongly encourages students to present their research at national or international meetings and provides financial support to pay for part of meeting travel expenses (other funding is obtained from the research mentor). In addition to the general meeting support for all students, each year two students are offered the opportunity to attend the annual MD/PhD national student conference in Colorado or the American Physician Scientist Association annual meeting in Chicago, with all expenses paid by the MSTP.

12.   Research symposia

MSTP students are encouraged to present their research at CWRU student symposia, including the annual Graduate Student Symposium and the Irwin H. Lepow Student Research Day. These symposia feature a nationally recognized keynote speaker, and students have the opportunity to interact extensively with the noted scientist. A committee awards prizes for outstanding student presentations.

13.  Summer retreat 

The annual MSTP summer retreat is a two-day event focusing on scientific presentations, professional development and program planning for the upcoming academic year.

14.  Works in Progress Seminar Series 

Students in their research years present their thesis work to the department through an oral presentation.

Assessment of MSTP Students

Students in the MSTP are assessed for the medical school component of the program in the same manner as students in the University Program, with the exception that grades are awarded for those courses in the MD curriculum in years one and two that receive graduate school credit and are used to satisfy requirements for the PhD degree. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements for both the MD and the PhD.