MD/PhD Program

The MD/PhD Program at Boston University School of Medicine is structured to train physician-scientists to be leaders in the advancement of twenty-first century health care.

We place premiums on using both clinical and scientific training to create a synergistic learning environment that molds our students into leaders who are able to translate observations and experiences into focused scientific inquiry. Our training produces a medical-scientist with the capacity to identify clinically-relevant questions that can be rigorously explored in a scientific setting.  Boston University’s commitment to this mission is also reflected by our commitment to fully fund tuition of the program so that our students have limited financial obligations during their medical or graduate school training.

BUSM is an exciting place to be!  Dr. Borkan and I have been directing the MD/PhD program for a year now. I took on this position after a number of years directing the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program and Chairing the advising program for the Umbrella Program for PhD students. I am a professor of Biochemistry and Ophthalmology and bring a love of advising and an awareness of laboratories throughout BU that are available to students. We believe that our joint expertise make the program extremely strong. Dr. Borkan and I believe that it is critical that students become medical scientists and that the education is a synergy between medicine and research. We place a high priority on advising and understand the importance of networking. In the short time we have been directors we have developed a number of courses and experiences to enhance your education.

My main background and interests are in wound healing in the cornea. As a young faculty member, I led a large multi-disciplinary project to design a synthetic cornea and I continue to collaborate with many of the researchers today. I am interested in how cells communicate as they migrate during collective migration or as individual cells. My other interest is in primary amyloid and I collaborate with faculty in the Amyloid Research Training Program. While these interests sound miles apart they aren’t as the amyloid oligomerization and fibrillogenesis is exacerbated by a family of GAGs that causes aggregates in the cornea that can result in blindness.

Our most important resource are the people in the program. We work in an intellectually vibrant and intensely collegial environment characterized by extensive interactions within the basic science and clinical departments at the medical school and throughout Boston. In summary we enjoy working as a team to advise and train you as you travel through the different facets of your education.

Vickery Trinkaus-Randall, PhD

Dr. Trinkaus-Randall and I just might be the only PhD and MD Co-Directors of such a training program. This leadership diversity allows us to focus on our primary goal: to help you develop a strong identity as a successful medical-scientist. We specialize in personally advising you during the scientific and clinical years of training in a way that advocates for your positive learning experience and a successful transition towards your future career choice.

I arrived at BU in the late in 1980’s to discover a Mission far larger me: caring for the underserved. And I was hooked. Then BU discovered and nurtured both the teacher and principal investigator in me by coupling my scientific curiosity with clinical frustration in caring for patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) for which no mechanistic understanding or therapeutic intervention previously existed. We are now exploring a therapeutic peptide that inhibits renal cell death, improves organ function and improves survival after an ischemic insult, a common cause of AKI. The intersection between clinical medicine and science at BU captivated my imagination and instilled me with a sense of Mission that has compelled me to teach and learn on this campus for nearly three decades. Recently, I have joined Dr. T-R to teach Introduction to Problems (IP) with our MD/PhD students during the first two years of medical school and we personally prepare our students to transition back onto the medical wards after their dissertation defense.

I hope that you will explore our program and our BU family, your team for many years. Here, your curiosity will thrive and your intellect will be stimulated, allowing your creativity and compassion to make a palpable difference in the lives of others. Dr. T-R and I will be delighted to collaborate on your behalf just as we have collaborated for years as translational scientists with a new passion for training the next generation of medical scientists. Here, our most important resource is our students and our most important commitment is to you.

Steven C. Borkan, MD




Congratulations to our Graduates! 


  •  Stephanie Pavlovich’s new Cell Paper can be found here!
  • Congrats to Jacob Kantrowitz and Nisma Mujahid on their induction into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS)
  • Congrats to Melissa Ghulam-Smith, Ian Francis, Stephanie Pavlovich and Jarred Mondonedo on their successful thesis defenses!
  • Contrats to Marc Vittoria who was recently awarded an NIH F30 grant!

  • Marc Vittoria, G2, NIH F30
  • Nisma Mujahid, M3, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Doctoral Foreign Study Award
  • Alissa Frame, G4, NIH F31, Best Poster Award at American Heart Meeting on Hypertension
  • Terry Hsieh, M4, AOA,Travel Award from the Shock Society,Gold Humanism Honor Society
  • Anjali Jacob, M3, NIH F31, Jo Rae Wright Young Investigator of the Year, FASEB meeting – best trainee oral presentation, First Author Paper in Cell Stem Cell
  • YoonJoo Lee, G4, NIH F30, Travel Award from American Society for Cell Biology
  • Will Li, G2,Autism Science Foundation – Predoctoral Fellowship
  • Sanghee Lim, G4,Medical Student Grants Targeting Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research,Melanoma Research Foundation Medical Student Research Grant
  • Melody Lun, M4,Society for Neuroscience Trainee Professional Development Award
  • Ryan Quinton, G3,Canadian Institutes of Health Research Doctoral Foreign Study Award, Jean McPhail Award