The goal of the MD-PhD Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UMMSM) is to provide a rich training environment that fosters the development of physician scientists who are rigorously trained in both clinical medicine and biomedical research. Individuals with both scientific and clinical training are most likely to make breakthroughs that improve health through research and provide the future intellectual leadership in medicine. The Miller School has a long tradition of research excellence and physician scientist training. Expansion of basic and clinical research and major infrastructure improvements in the last 10 years, as well as Miami's diverse population and access to Latin America & the Caribbean, make UMMSM an outstanding place for MD-PhD training. The program is designed to be a 7-8 year path that allows for an integrated experience throughout the training period. Elements specifically designed to enhance MD-PhD training are a journal club for MD-PhD students in the 1st & 2nd year of medical school, longitudinal clinical experiences during graduate training, and activities that bring together all students in the program, such as monthly Scientific & Professional Development Workshops, monthly Clinical Case Studies, an annual MD-PhD Student Research Symposium, and other social activities. Students gain leadership skills by developing and organizing many of these program events. Students are able to select among 10 PhD training programs in the biomedical sciences, including traditional basic sciences, Cancer Biology, Human Genetics & Genomics, and Neuroscience Programs, as well as Epidemiology in the Public Health Sciences and Biomedical Engineering. Students are recruited from colleges and universities throughout the US, and admitted based on academic credentials, research experience and potential, passion for and commitment to a career in biomedical research, and personal evaluations through interviews. The size and credentials of the applicant pool and quality of matriculating students have improved significantly in the last 10 years. Outstanding current students and graduates include trainees from a wide variety of races and ethnicities many of whom are currently underrepresented in medicine and research. The quality of students and the program are exemplified by strong publication records and excellent residency matches. Currently the program recruits ~5 students per year with ~40 MD-PhD students in training. The program has doubled in size since 2002 due to increased institutional support, strong institutional and programmatic leadership, and student competition for prestigious individual NRSA fellowships. MSTP support is requested for a total of 6 matriculating students per year by year 3 of the training grant period, to grow this dynamic and interactive program to reach an annual incoming class size of 6, and ultimately a total program size of 48 students.
The ability to understand disease processes and translate this knowledge into innovative and effective approaches to ameliorate disease can be best provided by individuals formally trained in both in basic science and clinical medicine. Furthermore, there is a need for more clinicians with epidemiology training who are able to understand and evaluate the incidence, distribution and determinants of health and disease in populations, as well as assess the impact of treatments and healthcare policy. Thus, the goal of the MD- PhD Training Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is to train future physician scientists who will be positioned to pursue careers in both basic and patient oriented research and bring new ideas and innovative approaches to the prevention and treatment of disease.
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