Research & Training
The MD-PhD Program at the University of Utah is designed to provide outstanding training for future physician-scientists. The objective of the program is to develop superb clinical skills in preparation for residency and provide rigorous scientific training.
Individuals who wish to devote their careers to research in either a medical school or research institute will find the program's training invaluable. In the MD-PhD Program, the PhD may be earned in any field that is relevant to medicine. It is not essential to know which doctoral program you will pursue upon admission. Students are encouraged to seek advice from investigators whose work is of interest to them.
The MD-PhD is designed to satisfy the requirements for both the MD and PhD degrees. This is accomplished by the utilizing the full calendar year, flexibility in scheduling to customize the training flow for the needs of individual students, the acceptance of medical school coursework credits toward didactic PhD requirements, reduction in the number of required clinical rotations, and abrogation of the teaching requirement. The curriculum generally requires about 7-9 full calendar years, although this is student and doctoral program dependent.
Students will meet with the director of the program to design their individualized programs. The courses in the first two years are those of the medical pre-clinical curriculum. Laboratory rotations and a weekly research seminar series are added in the summer. At the end of the first two years, the student is required to pass the National Board of Examiner's USMLE Step 1.
By the summer of the second year, the student will have chosen a thesis advisor. Three to four years are usually required to complete the requirements for the PhD degree. These include course requirements, preliminary examinations, thesis research, and defense of the dissertation. Relative to a conventional graduate student, the course requirements are significantly reduced in recognition of the pre-clinical medical school courses already completed.
At the end of the dissertation, the student will return to medical school to complete clinical rotations. There is flexibility in the time of starting the clinical rotations to allow a seamless transition from thesis completion to beginning the clerkships. Both the MD and PhD will be awarded upon successful completion of the program.
The facilities at the University of Utah are outstanding. The clinical facilities include the:
- University of Utah Health Sciences Center (encompassing 14 core facilities),
- University-operated Veterans' Hospital,
- Primary Children's Hospital,
- Moran Eye Center, and
- Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Research activities, in addition to being carried out in the previously mentioned institutions, are also conducted in the Eccles Institute for Human Genetics, which houses the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building, and in the Biomedical Polymers building which is the Utah Center of the Human Genome Project. Medical school courses are held in the Health Sciences Education Building.