The University of Illinois at Chicago provides a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) of combined MD and PhD training, requiring seven to eight years for completion of the requirements for both advance degrees. The University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest institution of higher education in Chicago, and has been one of the fastest growing comprehensive universities in the nation. During the last decade the College of Medicine made growing, dedicated investments in both PhD and MD-PhD training. The curriculum for MSTP students includes the major portions of the medical school and graduate college curricula in a manner designed to minimize duplication and provide an integrated physician-scientist education. Most Medical Scientist Training Program students pursue PhD training in one of the five basic science departments of the College of Medicine, or in the interdepartmental Neuroscience program that is housed in the College. But, some can and do select training with investigators located among several programs in other colleges, including the Bioengineering Department in the College of Engineering, and graduate training programs in the School of Public Health and in the College of Pharmacy. All participating departments and programs have rigorous, well-established graduate training programs, careful supervision of students, many NIH-funded investigators, and many connections to clinician-scientists. In academic year 2011-12 there are 46 students in the program. The value of physician-scientists to biomedical research is widely recognized, as is the need for programs to bolster the number of such researchers. Compared to other physicians, MD-PhDs stand out for their scientific insight into bedside problems, and as innovative champions of progress in medicine. MD-PhD programs are a major source of the nation's physician-scientists, and arguably provide the best route to such careers.
This program produces physician scientists who have both MD and PhD training, i.e., who receive both degrees at the completion of the program. MD-PhD graduates have deeper perceptions of medical significance in biology than do scientists without medical education, more comprehensive understanding of the limitations in medical practice, and greater ability to transfer basic scientific advances toward patient care advances. Thus, MD-PhD graduates are positioned to identify and pursue interdisciplinary approaches to important biomedical problems, and to help bridge the basic and clinical sciences.
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