The United States was the first country to adopt the MD/PhD dual degree, with the first programs popping up more than 30 years ago. By the latest count (and the number is climbing steadily) 118 U.S. programs offer dual degrees. A comprehensive list is not, therefore, consistent with the goal of keeping this list of resources short and sweet.
Fortunately, the Association of American Medical Colleges already has those bases covered. AAMC maintains a database of programs, searchable (in principle, anyway) by school and by the degrees they offer. Want to know what institutions offer a particular degree, i.e., an MD/PhD degree in neuroscience? You'll find the answer in AAMC's school and program list.Want to know what degrees are offered at a particular institution? You're out of luck, for now; the AAMC site offers this functionality, but the database is not yet fully constituted. Anyway, AAMC has a search page at: http://services.aamc.org/currdir/section3/start.cfm
If you wish to cast your net a little wider, AAMC also maintains an alphabetical list of medical schools in the U.S. and Canada at :
Tell me: Why do you read Next Wave? Is it for the generic information that you can get anywhere else? Or is it for the special tips, the inside information, that aren't available elsewhere? We know the answer.
Buried within the AAMC site but not officially a part of it sits the Web site of the MD/PhD Program Directors Association. Don't want to mess around with that search engine on the AAMC site? The directors keep their own list, alphabetical by state--no searching required! See:
Another great resource on the program directors' site is this list of frequency asked questions (FAQ) in pdf format, intended for prospective MD/PhD students:
Okay, so you know where all the U.S. MD/PhD programs are--all 118 of them. How do you go about narrowing down that list? Which ones are good, which are bad, which are indifferent? Most programs have their strengths, but one way to be sure of a program's quality is to look for the MSTP seal of approval.
The Medical Science Training Program (MSTP) is an initiative of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of NIH's key institutes. MSTP provides funding to roughly one-third (actually a bit more) of those 118 MD/PhD programs. As mentioned elsewhere in this feature, MSTP evaluates programs according to strict standards of quality. NIGMS also provides funding to the best MD/PhD programs, meaning that with almost no exceptions, students admitted to these programs will have their expenses paid and receive a stipend for living expenses. The result: an MD degree (and a PhD to boot!) with absolutely no debt. The Web page for the MSTP program, including a list of all MSTP-funded MD/PhD programs (with contact information, e-mail addresses, and links) is found at:
When he began to evaluate MD/PhD programs, Next Wave contributor Prabhjot Dhadialla was surprised to find that very little information was available, especially information presented from a student's (or prospective student's) perspective. So he created the Web site InTransit, which includes a guide to MD/PhD programs, a FAQ, and a series of reviews of 23 MD/PhD programs and interview experiences.
This Discussion forum, hosted by studentdoctor.net, allows undergraduate students to discuss their experiences and exchange information about MD/PhD programs.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research MD/PhD Studentships provide support for dual-degree trainees in Canadian programs.
The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research PhD Trainee Award supports dual-degree students in British Columbia.
Links to MD/PhD Programs in Canada
Traditionally clinicians have learned the ins and outs of clinical trials by taking part in them. However, the introduction of the EU Clinical Trials Directive means that stricter legal and scientific guidelines are being put into place. The European Science Foundation believes that the introduction of a Europe-wide training syllabus is necessary to ensure physicians are trained to conduct studies according to Good Clinical Practice and to critically evaluate study proposals.
The Swiss National Science Foundation has two funding programmes aimed at medical practitioners who want to further their research training. The MD-PhD programme is open to medics, dentists, and vets who wish to pursue a scientific research degree. Seven or eight grants of SFr 50,000 (?32,000) per year for 3 years will be awarded in 2004. The closing date for applications is 15 December 2003. Swiss Clinicians Opting for Research ( SCORE) funds full or part-time postdoctoral research posts for clinicians for 3 to 5 years.
Back in March 2000 the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences published a report, ' The tenure-track clinician scientist: a new career pathway to promote recruitment into clinical academic medicine,' looking at the problems involved in attracting medically qualified people into academic research positions. The report made a number of recommendations around the introduction of a better career structure for clinical academics. A further two reports, ' Clinical academic medicine in jeopardy: recommendations for change' and ' Implementing the Clinician-Scientist Scheme' have tracked progress.
Today, the first port of call for anybody considering a dual career in research and medicine in the UK are the professional bodies. There is a mine of advice and information to be found on the Web sites of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, and the Academy of Medical Sciences as well as specialists' associations. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, for example, features an excellent outline of the opportunities for research and higher specialist training.
Medical courses and fellowships incorporating research experience in the UK
The Royal Free and University College Medical School at University College London offer outstanding students the opportunity to obtain an intercalated BSc, a PhD, and the MB BS degree in 8, rather than 9 years of study. The MB PhD programme has places for up to 10 students each year.
The Arthritis Research Campaign is offering Clinician Scientist Fellowships to medical graduates who have completed their first period of research training (in most cases having obtained a PhD) and who are committed to a career in academic medicine in any discipline relevant to arthritis and musculoskeletal disease. They will provide a combination of clinical training with a period of postdoctoral research training.
The Research Training Fellowship scheme from Action Medical Research is giving medical graduates the chance to train in research techniques.
The Department of Health has developed a National Clinician Scientist scheme to nurture a cadre of research-led clinical academics by providing funding for up to 5 years for access to academic mentorship and flexible academic career development together with clinical specialist training.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) offers three options for clinician-scientists. They may apply for a postdoctoral clinical fellowship providing up to 4 years support to consolidate their research skills and make the transition to independent investigator. Alternatively the patient-oriented Clinician Scientist Fellowship provides up to 5 years support for research that requires a greater proportion of time to be spent in clinical work. Finally, the MRC/Academy of Medical Sciences Tenure-Track Clinician Scientist Fellowship provides up to 5 years support to promote recruitment into clinical academic medicine.
The Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist Fellowship will provide up to 5 years support for outstanding clinical researchers who wish to consolidate their research skills and make the transition from doctoral research training to independent postdoctoral investigators.
The British Heart Foundation Clinical Science Fellowships are designed to train clinicians in basic science for a 3-year period before returning to their clinical departments to put into practice their new skills.
Examples of Sources of Funding for Medical Research in the UK