Medical Scientist Training Program
The University of Illinois College of Medicine offers a select number of students the opportunity to work toward both the MD and PhD degrees. The objective of the program is to train students for careers in academic medicine and research. Students admitted to this highly competitive program participate in the medical school curriculum and pursue original doctoral research projects in the laboratories of the university’s graduate faculty.
The first two years of the program are used to complete the M-1 and M-2 years of the medical curriculum. Students enter “at large,” that is, without affiliation to a particular graduate department. During this time, they may explore research opportunities in any academic department of the University of Illinois College of Medicine and selected graduate departments throughout the university. A series of seminars designed for new MD/PhD students provides an overview of opportunities for research. After admission, the students complete three rotations through the laboratories of various potential advisers before a choice is made. An ongoing series of seminars is presented to MD/PhD students in all stages of the program by the faculty and invited physician-scientists from other academic health science centers. These seminars enhance the students’ general knowledge and help to develop new approaches toward the investigation of problems in biomedical research. The seminar series, along with the annual research day and other gatherings with faculty, serve to bring together trainees and preceptors and expose the students to the area of research being explored at UI COM and the faculty doing the research.
Choice of a permanent thesis adviser and graduate department takes place by the end of the second year. Students in the graduate phase of the program work side-by-side with PhD students in the basic sciences and meet all departmental requirements for the PhD degree. Original publications and presentations at national biomedical science meetings are often accomplished.
For the PhD phase of the program, students may associate with one of the five basic science departments of the University of Illinois College of Medicine (see descriptions in this section), with the Neuroscience Program, or with one of many program-approved departments across the university. During the three to four years of PhD studies, MSTP students keep their clinical skills sharp by participating in a Clinical Connections component.
In the final two years of the program, MD/PhD candidates rejoin other medical students to complete the remaining medical school requirements. Third- and fourth-year clerkships include medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology and psychiatry, among other disciplines.
Graduates of the program have routinely gained admission to the most competitive residency programs at many of the premier academic institutions in the country, including the ever-growing number of physician-scientist residency programs.