The M.D./Ph.D. combined degree program at Boston University School of Medicine is structured to train physician-scientists for productive careers in the twenty-first century. We view 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 identify clinically-relevant questions and to explore these questions in a laboratory or clinical setting. Boston University’s commitment to this mission is also reflected by fully funding the tuition of 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 Ph.D. training and research in one of the basic (preclinical) medical sciences. The program, however, is designed to allow students considerable freedom of choice. The program expects to produce graduates adequately trained to cope with the increasingly multidisciplinary 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.
A physician-scientist is a leader who forms the link between basic biomedical science and clinical practice. We strive to nurture, as well as mold, these leaders who will build an integrated community between what often are disparate cultures of basic biomedical research and clinical practice.
The M.D./Ph.D. combined degree program provides each student substantial opportunities to integrate basic science and clinical training throughout the graduate and medical school years. Students in the preclinical basic sciences attend specially tailored classes that challenge them to design research programs based on clinical cases. Students in the graduate years shadow working physician-scientists to learn how to integrate laboratory and clinical work with research interests. Students in their clinical years participate in seminars on translational research and clinical trial design.
Throughout this experience, students in the program attend scientific and social events designed to foster leadership skills with other M.D./Ph.D. students and broadly throughout the community of biomedicine.