Masters Students Celebrate their Accomplishments!
The purpose of the program is to train physician-scientists for productive careers in the twenty-first century. Our philosophy views the clinical encounter as central in the generation of relevant questions that can be best explored by scientific methodology. Therefore, we place premiums on balancing both the clinical training and scientific training. This produces a physician-scientist with the capacity to derive a clinically-relevant question, explore it in the laboratory or clinical research center, and translate the new knowledge gained into pragmatic clinical practice. Boston University’s commitment to this mission is also reflected in fully funding the Program so that students will not be burdened by accruing enormous debt during their training.
It is anticipated, but not required, that students will elect to carry out their PhD training and research in one of the basic (preclinical) medical sciences; however, the program is designed to allow students considerable freedom of choice. The program expects to produce graduates adequately trained to cope with the increasingly multi- and interdisciplinary nature of teaching and research in the basic medical sciences, as well as graduates who will enter residency programs with a sufficient background in basic science to allow them to pursue productive careers in clinical research.
“Boston University School of Medicine began its history as the New England Female Medical College, which opened in 1848 as the first institution in the world to offer medical education to women. In 1873, the College merged with Boston University, becoming the first coeducational medical school. When the graduate school of Boston University was founded in 1912, School of Medicine graduates became the first to receive additional training in disciplines such as anatomy, bacteriology, chemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. The degree awarded to these candidates was the Ph.D. in Medical Sciences, regardless of the area of their concentration. The first degree went to Brenton Reid Lutz in 1916 for his dissertation entitled On the Irritability of the Reflect Arc. Marielle Payton later graduated from BUSM to become the very first female African-American M.D., Ph.D. in the nation. Over the next half century, both the medical and graduate programs evolved and integrated to promote the rapid advancement in medicine and sciences.
Boston University officially sanctioned the joint M.D., Ph.D. program in 1976. Today, almost one-sixth of the students enrolled in the graduate division are in the joint program. Approximately 8 students each year enroll as M.D., Ph.D. candidates for a total of about ninety students today. These M.D., Ph.D. candidates receive their graduate degree and training in any of over 20 departments and training programs, taking advantage of an annual research budget exceeding $140 million.
M.D., Ph.D. candidates have the option to conduct research at the School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, the School of Public Health and the Goldman School of Dental Medicine. In addition, the Ph.D., degree can be obtained through the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at the Boston University main campus. Within the medical campus, specialized centers such as the Framingham Heart Study, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Arthritis Center, Cancer Research Center, Pulmonary Center, Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, and Alzheimer’s Disease Center provide further integration between medicine and scientific research. The Boston University Medical Center is a dynamic center that is constantly growing. Nearly 300,000 square feet of research space have been created in the last decade, most of it in BioSquare, a developing biotechnology park that already counts as its first building the School’s Center for Advanced Biomedical Research. The building is home to several Advanced Core Services including Mass Spectrometry, a DNA/Protein Core, Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility, NMR Spectroscopy Core, Cryo-Electron Microscope Facility, Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope, Transgenic Facility, Cardiovascular Imaging Suite, and a modern Laboratory Animal Science Center. The hospital has also recently opened an advance cancer center, and is building a National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory. The latter is funded in part by a $124 million grant from NIH, which is the largest single grant ever given by NIH to a medical center.
In addition to the diverse research exposures, BUSM’s M.D., Ph.D. candidates also have the opportunity to receive clinical training in a unique setting. This was made possible by the merger of the Boston City Hospital with the Boston University Medical Center Hospital into the Boston Medical Center in 1996. BMC became the hub of urban health care, with an emphasis on urban outreach and primary and tertiary care training. The partnership between BUSM and BMC has led to a truly integrated medical campus with combined strengths in research, clinical training, and community service. Such integration plays an essential role in the training of M.D., Ph.D. candidates in becoming successful physician-scientists. The path of physician-scientist can be a tortuous one. At times, the course of the combined degree program may be particularly challenging; however, BUSM recognizes the nature and difficulties of such unique path, and thus strives to support students by integrating the training of its candidates through flexibility, mentorship, and diversity. As proven by its history, BUSM has led the advancement of biomedical research in many frontiers. The goal of the BUSM M.D., Ph.D. Combined Degree Program is to continue to train daring pioneers to venture into the realm of the unknown and uncertainty with foresight and determination.
Boston University’s commitment to supporting the MD/PhD Combined Degree Program is reflected in the MD/PhD Combined Degree Dean’s Scholarship which provides full funding.
We currently have 72 students enrolled in the M.D., Ph.D. Combined Degree Program at Boston University. Students admitted to the program have until the end of their second year to declare a graduate program affiliation. This flexibility provides students the room to make long-term decisions about graduate training only after they are equipped with a thorough knowledge of the opportunities at Boston University. Eight students each year enter our M.D., Ph.D. Program and make up ~4% of the Medical School class.