McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

New program will train physician scientists

Published: January 29, 2007
Carl Richards and Alan Neville
Carl Richards (left), associate dean of graduate studies, and Alan Neville, assistant dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The Faculty of Health Sciences is launching a combined MD/PhD program that will provide training for an elite group of scholars who will play a vital role in linking basic science investigation to the clinical setting in health care.

The program will combine McMaster’s renowned undergraduate curriculum of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine with established PhD programs in either Medical Sciences or Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. Up to three students will be chosen to begin the program this September, and prospective students must have already applied to McMaster’s medical school. Those selected will have outstanding academic records and a commitment to research.

It will take students a total of seven years to complete the program. Graduates will then be eligible to start an MD residency program, or accept an academic placement.

The new program was developed by a working group co-chaired by Carl Richards, associate dean of graduate studies for the Faculty, and Alan Neville, assistant dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, said the MD/PhD program will educate a new generation of clinician/scientists to bring basic science to clinical medicine.

"The world of physician scientists continues to grow more dynamic, as developments are exponential. There are many exciting opportunities to be involved in providing new approaches to the treatment of disease and health," he said.

Although the length of time to complete the new program will be similar to taking the two degrees separately, the compression of the MD and PhD training will allow students to focus on continuous and co-ordinated research topics throughout the entire training period. Students will be integrated into a research environment and exposed to mentors in basic research early in the program, which will then stimulate further research questions as they go through the second phase consisting of basic MD training. Subsequent completion of clinical electives while engaged in full-time research will lead to more in-depth questioning that will help integrate basic research paradigms with their application to clinical needs.

Richards said that graduates will be well prepared for leadership roles in integrated research initiatives, particularly those involving interdisciplinary and translational health research endeavours. They will be positioned to seek roles on academic research teams, in private sector, health product companies, or in the public sector.

"Students will receive sophisticated basic science training and top notch clinical training," said Richards.

Prospective students for the new program, who have already applied to the Ontario Medical School Admission Service, must submit a separate application package for the MD/PhD program no later than Feb. 28. Further information on admission criteria, degree requirements and the integrated format can be found at Graduate medical program website.

Prospective students are also invited to attend open house events planned by both the Medical SciGences and the Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences programs next month.

The Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences open house will be held Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the purple section of the first floor of the Health Sciences Centre.

The Medical Sciences open house will be held on Feb. 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on the first floor of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery.

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