The focus of the Medical Scientist (MD-PHD) Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is to train outstanding young people to become successful physician scientists. Although the ultimate career pathway for individual trainees extends a broad spectrum from the conduct of basic biomedical research to clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents or procedures, the net effect of this cadre of investigators will be to increase the translation of basic biomedical understanding into clinical practice. Our Program focuses on the following goals: 1) to offer superb didactic training in both basic science education and the fundamentals of clinical education; 2) to train students in the tools necessary to become successful biomedical scientists, including grant and manuscript writing, as well as time and laboratory management; 3) to help students obtain the competencies to become excellent physicians, including clinical skills, medical knowledge, practice-based learning, interpersonal communication, professionalism, and evidence-based medicine; and 4) to graduate physician scientists who go on to become leaders in academic medical centers throughout the country. The UAB MSTP curriculum has three distinct phases: two years of basic science course work and summer research rotations (Pre-Clinical Phase), an extended research period culminating in the PhD degree (Research Phase), and final clinical training leading to the MD degree (Clinical Phase). Each year, our MSTP matriculates eight students into the first program year and accepts another one or two students through Advanced Transfer pathways (the NIH MD-PhD Partnership Training Program pathways, and MD or PhD to MSTP Advanced Transfer pathways). Our program currently has 72 students. Unique aspects and strengths of the UAB MSTP include the following: diverse student body (21% URM), extensive student involvement and ownership in the program, strong student representation in leadership positions in national organizations, vertical integration of students through program activities, exceptional core faculty preceptors across a broad array of specialties, an increasing number of students pursuing PhD training in programs outside of traditional biomedical sciences, a high funding rate of NRSA F30/31 or equivalent awards, an innovative continuing clinical education course that bridges the Pre-Clinical to Clinical phases, a very low attrition rate, low average time to completing the MSTP, and 100% residency match rate for MSTP graduates since the last renewal. Strong MSTP recruiting, leadership, and institutional support will ensure continued success of the UAB MSTP.
The rapid advances in biomedical sciences in the past 30 years has resulted in a critical need for well-trained investigators who also have direct involvement with clinical medicine to translate new discoveries in biomedical sciences into workable clinical applications. Medical Scientist Training Programs, such as the one at UAB, that train the most outstanding individuals in both modern medicine and the special intellectual perspective and technical know-how of basic biomedical science is a key component for meeting this need.
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