Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Contact: ​Dr. Andrea Keane-Myers and Dr. Miles Fabian ​

The MSTP supports the integrated medical (or equivalent professional clinical) degree and graduate research training that is required for the investigation of human diseases. It assures highly selected trainees a choice of a wide range of pertinent graduate programs in the biological, chemical and physical sciences which, when combined with training in medicine, lead to the M.D.-Ph.D. degree. Programs are encouraged to provide a breadth of doctoral research training opportunities consistent with individual institutional strengths. In addition to the above disciplines, support of trainees in other disciplines such as computer sciences, social and behavioral sciences, economics, epidemiology, public health, bioengineering, biostatistics and bioethics is encouraged. Proposed MSTP programs should be flexible and adaptable in providing each trainee with the appropriate background in the sciences relevant to medicine, yet be rigorous enough to enable graduates to function independently in both basic research and clinical investigation.

Because of the special challenge of training students in both clinical practice and related research, these programs must have a carefully designed but flexible curriculum. While it is assumed that the medical training will be sufficient to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination and qualify for competitive residencies, it is equally important that the graduate training be of recognized excellence, comparable to the most competitive programs nationwide in the chosen fields. The students should have an identity as medical scientist trainees, distinct from, but complementary to, their identities as medical and graduate students. The training should be more than the sum of medical and graduate training, but the expectation is that the total time of training should be significantly less than the sum of the two degrees. To achieve this end the students may be engaged in medical and graduate training simultaneously. Also, to promote the timely completion of the degrees, it is expected that the clinical training be designed for efficient and flexible re-entry to the final years of medical school. Because the MSTP trainees have career trajectories generally distinct from most medical students, career advice and mentoring is an important part of the program. Interaction with medical scientists as role models can serve as an excellent supplement to this mentoring.

The intrinsic complexity of dual-degree training and the broad reach of graduate study throughout the affiliated graduate schools require a strong and inclusive leadership and administration of the program. The coordination of medical and graduate studies may require flexibility and cooperation throughout the grantee institution(s). The MSTP cannot fund the entire training period of every student in the program, in part because of the statutory limitation of National Research Service Award support. Therefore, the financial and other commitment of the grantee institution to the MSTP is an important element in the evaluation.