Program Timeline

The Physician-Scientist is a leader who forms the link between basic biomedical science and clinical practice.  In our efforts to both nurture and mold our students to achieve this goal, we focus on providing a flourishing environment through our expertise in training, mentoring and advising, and fostering community. A more detailed curriculum sequence can be found at the bottom of this page. Please monitor this page as the medical school curriculum is changing, with the new curriculum change taking effect  for the 2015 academic year.


We strive to achieve continuity of Physician-Scientist training throughout the student’s training,  as highlighted below.

1.  Medical School Years 1 & 2 (BUSM I & II): The integrated problems course has special MD, PhD sections.  Students critique the same cases as the MD students, but MD/PhD students are able to enhance this experience by learning the format for designing experiments and writing grants.  Students learn to take a clinical case, present the essential clinical material (chief complaint, history and physical, basic lab values, tests, etc.), present it cogently, then develop a translational research question from the clinical question.  This enables one to learn the basic elements of a research plan, including the rationale, hypotheses, aims, the dependent and independent variables, positive and negative controls, and power analyses.  Year 2 is similar to Year 1, except that students now go from a concept to the clinical trial phase.  The goal is to train our Physician-Scientists to design experiments and write grant applications.

2.  Laboratory Rotations (Summer Pre-BUSM I or, Post-BUSM I): Students complete a requried 8-10 week lab rotation before formally entering the research years of study.  Students receive a $4,000 stipend for this effort.

3.  Research Years: When students first enter the research (graduate) phase,  they quickly assimilate in their chosen program of study as well as continue along the path of becoming a Physician-Scientist through a wide variety of opportunities during this period.

a.  Teaching: In academic medicine, the role of a Physician-Scientist typically includes teaching.   Teaching opportunities exist in a number of ways.  Many MD/PhD students serve as teaching assistants in first- and second-year medical school courses, as tutors, and as instructors of undergraduate Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences courses.   Students are also encouraged to present their research at seminars, student retreats, Student Achievement Day, and at a wide variety of scientific meetings.  In addition, efforts are currently underway in the design of a course focused on teaching.  Students will be taught techniques for teaching, and then have the opportunity to practice these techniques presenting to small groups of students.

b.  Graduate Phase Clinical Clerkship: Transitions understandably may provoke particular concerns, and the Program strives to make the student’s transition back to clinical medicine to as smooth as possible.  During the last year of graduate training, students are given the opportunity to shadow a physician-scientist one afternoon per week, providing a reacquaintance with patient interactions.  After spending an extended period of time in the research arena, students are able to gain valuable experience in taking histories and performing physicals.  Most importantly, students gain experience in interacting with patients.  At the end of this session, we offer a six-session course that explicitly reviews how to perform the physical exam in internal medicine (with a focus on cardiology and pulmonary), neurology, pediatrics and OB/Gyn.  Explicit training on skills relevant to conducting rounds with attendings is also provided, along with an assessment exam.

4.  Clinical Years: In the fourth year of medical school (BUSM IV), a one-month course designed to train students in clinical trials is offered to help prepare students for a future in clinical research.

Mentoring and Advising

A strength of our large program is breadth of mentoring and advising by Physician-Scientists.  There are currently three faculty advisors to the program:  John H. Schwartz, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director of the MD/PhD Program who specializes in renal epithelial cell biology and  Steven C. Borkan, MD, Department of Medicine and specializing in the study of the pathophysiological basis of renal ischemia.  The advisors function as a resource to meet with students and guide them through the program.  The advisors also supervise mentoring and didactic training occurring throughout the program.