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McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Newsmagazine — Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring 2012

Lindsay MacGillivray
Lindsay MacGillivray

Just call her
doctordoctor

Graduating from medical school is tough, and graduating with a PhD doctorate is hard too. Lindsay MacGillivray has done both together.

The 29-year-old graduated in May as a physician scientist and the first graduate of a MD/PhD Program of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, which allows students to achieve both degrees in seven years.

Physician scientists simultaneously work to advance medicine through research while caring for patients. In 2007, McMaster introduced its combined MD/PhD program to help address what appeared to be a trend indicating the career path for the physician scientist was in trouble.

"Medical science has exploded over the past 50 years, as we know so much about what causes disease at a molecular level, but what has been somewhat slower is the translation of these findings into actual benefits for patients," said Peter Margetts, director of the MD/PhD program. "The role of the clinician-scientist is to advance medical science but, more importantly, to bring those advances back to the clinic."

The 11 students enrolled in McMaster's program are combining their physician training with research in such diverse areas as asthma, peanut allergies, microbial drug resistance and the treatment and prevention of clotting and blood disorders.

MacGillivray's focus is neuropsychiatry and she intends to try and uncover the neurobiological underpinnings of psychiatric diseases, such as depression.

She's leaving behind a handbook for future students on what to expect, compiled from her own experiences and through discussions with other students.

Up to three applicants who demonstrate academic excellence and a strong interest in research are admitted each year into the MD/PhD program.