Medical Scientist Training Program

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The Medical Scientist Training Programs (MSTPs) are MD-PhD training programs that streamline the education towards MD and PhD graduate degrees.[1] MSTPs are offered by a small number of United States medical schools with financial support from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of these training programs is to produce physician scientists who can translate laboratory discoveries into effective treatments for patients. Among a total number of 118 MD-PhD programs in the country, there are currently 45 participating institutions with MSTPs for a total of 890 trainees in all stages of the programs.[2] MSTPs exist at the nation's preeminent medical schools, and, as of 2011, the top 20 medical schools as ranked by the US News and Report had a MSTP. The most recent MSTP grant was awarded to The University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2013.[3]


The program has its origins in the non-NIH funded MD-PhD training offered at the nation's research-centric medical schools. The first true dual-degree program began at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1956.[4] Other prominent medical schools quickly followed this example and developed explicit MD-PhD training structures. In 1964 the NIH created Medical Scientist Training Program to begin funding this medical and research education. The first programs to receive funding were at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and New York University School of Medicine.[citation needed] In the decades that followed, the MSTP saw a significant expansion in NIH funding and institutions with MSTP designation.


Admission to MSTPs is the most competitive of all graduate medical education programs in the country, with only 170 NIH-funded positions available nationwide each year for a total of 1,813 applicants (a 9.4% acceptance rate), as of 2011. In comparison, MD-only programs had 20,176 positions for a total of 43,915 applicants (a 46% acceptance rate).[5] At each institution, these acceptance rates are varied and are often far more competitive than the national data. Every year, the number of MSTP applicants rapidly increases, as the benefits of such well-structured combined training have become more appreciated. Applicants must have very strong MCAT scores and GPAs to be considered for positions in MSTP. Reflecting this fact, from 2008 to 2010 the average GPA and MCAT for matriculants to MSTPs were 3.76 and 34.5, respectively, and these numbers continue to rise every year. MSTP applicants will often have very strong research experience as well, in addition to the typical qualifications required from MD-only applicants. However, because of the time commitment required of research, MSTP will not focus as much on miscellaneous volunteering experience and will focus mostly on an applicant's research background as well as clinical experience such as volunteering at a hospital or shadowing a doctor(s)[citation needed].

Interviews for admissions at MSTPs tend to focus on the applicant's career goals and past experiences in scientific research. These may include short research talks or presentations followed by rigorous questioning by an interviewer or interviewing committee. MSTP applicants are often required to demonstrate a deep understanding of their past research projects. Multiple interview sessions conducted by different interviewers that last for 2 days are very common. At some MSTPs, applicants may also be required (or be offered the chance) to interview with the MD-only program.

Financial support[edit]

MSTP matriculants receive substantial financial awards that make them financially competitive to their MD-only counterparts even with the longer training periods. These allowances cover all tuition expenses, provide travel and supply allowances, and accommodate living expenses through an annual stipend (ranging from $22,000 to $33,000). Together, these monetary awards compare to approximately $200,000 of pre-tax income.

While MSTP-designated schools have NIH grant funding, a considerable portion of the financial support comes from the institution itself. Furthermore, this grant funding for each student expires before the completion of the program. Therefore, the institution must provide 100% of the funding at that time. For clarification, even with these financial changes, a MSTP student never sees a loss of funding (tuition or stipend).

Since MSTP grants are a type of National Research Service Award, students must be nationals (citizens or noncitizens) of the United States or possess a I-151 or I-551 alien registration receipt. However many MSTPs offer non-MSTP grant funded positions, allowing for non-citizens and non-legalized nationals to be accepted into the MD-PhD program at that particular school. These programs are indistinguishable between the students besides the funding source. Furthermore, many non-MSTP medical schools have MD-PhD programs that are not supported by the NIH but offer similar training opportunities and grant money.

Allied-institution programs[edit]

Several MSTPs allow for the PhD portion of the MSTP to be completed outside the home university at an allied institution. These relationships provide additional and sometimes stronger research opportunities to students in these MSTPs.

Current programs[edit]

Institution Year Founded Website Annual Stipend ($) Allied Institution(s)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine 1964[6] Einstein MSTP 33,000[7]
Baylor College of Medicine 1976[6] Baylor MSTP 29,000 Rice University
Case Western Reserve University 1975[6] CWRU MSTP 27,500[8] Cleveland Clinic
Columbia University 1969[6] Columbia MSTP 37,224[9]
Cornell University 1974[6] Cornell MSTP 29,500*[10] Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University (Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program)
Duke University 1966[6] Duke MSTP 29,420[11]
Emory University 1976[6] Emory MSTP 28,500 Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvard University 1974[6] Harvard MSTP 32,000[citation needed] Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Indiana University 2008 IU MSTP 27,000 Purdue University
Johns Hopkins University 1975[6] Hopkins MSTP 27,920*[12]
Mayo Medical School 2003[13] Mayo MSTP 28,110[14]
Medical College of Wisconsin 2010[15] MCW MSTP 27,314[16]
Medical University of South Carolina 1999[17] MUSC MSTP 27,500
Mount Sinai School of Medicine 1976[6] Mount Sinai MSTP 34,000[18]
New York University 1964[6] NYU MSTP 36,100[19]
Northwestern University 1964[6] NU MSTP 30,000[20]
Oregon Health and Science University 2016[21] OHSU MSTP 26,000[22]
Penn State University 1996 Penn State Hershey MSTP
Stanford University 1968[6] Stanford MSTP 28,000[citation needed]
Stony Brook University 1992[6] Stony Brook MSTP 27,000 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory
The Ohio State University 2011[23] OSU MSTP 25,038
The State University of New York, University at Buffalo SUNY:UB MSTP 24,000[24]
Tufts University 1994[6] Tufts MSTP 30,500[25]
University of Alabama
at Birmingham
1992[6] UAB MSTP 29,000
University of California, Irvine 1999[26] UCI MSTP 27,000
University of California, Los Angeles 1983[6] UCLA MSTP 31,500[27] California Institute of Technology
University of California, San Diego 1975[6] UCSD MSTP 29,500 Salk Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
University of California, San Francisco 1977[6] UCSF MSTP 37,000[28] University of California, Berkeley
University of Chicago 1968[6] UChicago MSTP 30,000[citation needed]
University of Cincinnati 2002[29] UC MSTP 27,250[30] Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
University of Colorado, Denver 1993[6] CU MSTP 28,500 The University of Colorado at Boulder and National Jewish Health
University of Illinois at Chicago 2007[31] UIC MSTP 30,090[32]
University of Iowa 1976[6] UI MSTP 27,000
University of Maryland, Baltimore 2010[33] UMaryland MSTP 26,000*[34] University of Maryland, College Park
University of Massachusetts 2013[3] UMass MSTP 29,500[35]
University of Michigan 1980[6] UM MSTP 28,500*
University of Minnesota 1988[6] UMN MSTP 26,500
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1999[36] UNC MSTP 26,000 North Carolina State University
University of Pennsylvania 1969[6] UPenn MSTP 30,000[37]
University of Pittsburgh 1987[6] Pitt MSTP 25,500 Carnegie Mellon University
University of Rochester 1973[6] Rochester MSTP 25,500[38]
University of Texas Southwestern 1982[6] UTSW MSTP 34,500[citation needed]
University of Virginia 1976[6] UVA MSTP 28,500
University of Washington 1970[6] UW MSTP 25,800*[39]
University of Wisconsin-Madison 1968[6] UW SMPH MSTP 28,000[40]
Vanderbilt University 1976[6] Vandy MSTP 27,000[41]
Washington University in St. Louis 1969[6] WashU MSTP 29,500[42]
Yale University 1969[6] Yale MSTP 22,476*[43]

* Stipend amount increases at various times in the program

Non-MSTP MD-PhD and DO-PhD programs[edit]

A number of medical and osteopathic medical schools without funded NIH MSTP grant slots maintain their own non-MSTP MD-PhD or DO-PhD combined degree programs, sometimes offering full or partial student financial support funded by the schools themselves.[2] Currently, 75 institutions provide a means for non-MSTP MD-PhD education in the United States, along with seven DO-PhD training programs.[44] Internationally, there are 34 institutions that provide MD–PhD training.[45]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Medical Scientist Training Program". National Institute of General Medical Sciences. 2015-07-29. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Institutions - National Institute of General Medical Sciences". 2015-07-29. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  3. ^ a b  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "CWRU Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  5. ^ "Medical Scientist Training Program - National Institute of General Medical Sciences". 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah "MSTP Study: The Careers and Professional Activities of Graduates of the NIGMS Medical Scientist Training Program". 2011-04-22. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  7. ^ "MSTP @ EINSTEIN - Features". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  8. ^ "CWRU Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)". Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  9. ^ "Current Financial Support". Columbia University MD-PhD Program. 
  10. ^ "Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program". Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  11. ^ "Duke Medical Scientist Training Program". Duke University School of Medicine. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  12. ^ "Funding". Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  13. ^ "Medical Scientist Training Program - Mayo Graduate School - Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  14. ^ "Stipend and Benefits - Mayo Graduate School - Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  15. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "Guide to Student Life". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  17. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  19. ^ "Life at Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences". NYU Medical Scientist Training Program. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  20. ^ "Financial Support". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  21. ^ "OHSU MD-PhD Medical Scientist Training Program". Retrieved 2016-12-27. 
  22. ^ "OHSU MD-PhD Medical Scientist Training Program". Retrieved 2016-12-27. 
  23. ^ "NIH Funds OSU Medical Scientist Training Program - College of Medicine News". 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  24. ^ "MSTP Program Financial Support". Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  25. ^ "Finances". Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  26. ^ "UCI MSTP History". Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  27. ^ "Funding - UCSF MSTP". Retrieved 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  28. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - UCSF MSTP". Retrieved 2016-08-18. 
  29. ^ "Physician Scientist Training Program Awarded NIH Designation". 2002-07-10. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  30. ^ "Funding - UC MSTP". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  31. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "OVERVIEW - University of Illinois College of Medicine at Ch...". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  33. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ Retrieved 2014-03-16.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ "History — UNC MD-PhD Program - (UNC School of Medicine)". Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  37. ^ "Penn Medicine MD-PhD Medical Scientist Training Program - Admission". University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  38. ^ "Support - Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)". Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  39. ^ "University of Washington MSTP". University of Washington MSTP. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  40. ^ "Funding Throughout the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP, MD-PhD)". University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Retrieved February 1, 2016. 
  41. ^ "Financial Support". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  42. ^ "Medical Scientist Training Program". Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  43. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions > MD-PhD Program". Yale School of Medicine. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  44. ^ "DO/PhD Programs". APSA - American Physician Scientists Association. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  45. ^ "DO/PhD Programs". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 

External links[edit]