Often, M.D. students will ask why they should pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. when you can pursue a limited research program in the absence of the Ph.D.. The answer is that modern medical translational research requires providing both state of the art patient care, while pursuing research that will lead to translation of basic laboratory findings into clinically-applicable therapeutic intervention strategies. The purpose of the M.D./Ph.D. program at UND is to train clinician scientists who can integrate the two different worlds of basic research with clinical application and patient care. Given the complex nature of hypothesis-driven experimental design and application of state-of-the-art technologies towards the execution of those designs, the combination of research training leading to the Ph.D. degree and clinical training leading to the M.D. degree is essential to prepare medical/clinical scientists who can apply laboratory results to the problems of clinical medicine.
At the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences, we believe that the best means by which we can train clinicians who can interpret and apply the latest advances in research to a clinical setting is to combine medical education with in-depth research training in a specialized field of interest to the student. Students accepted into the combined M.D. and Ph.D. curriculums can pursue their Ph.D. studies in any of the graduate programs at the UND medical school.
Students may choose to begin their studies with the two basic science years of medical school followed by graduate study, then returning to years 3 and 4 of clinical training. Others may begin their research rotations in the summer preceding the first year of medical school and continue their research training concurrently with medical school. Regardless, the goal of the M.D./Ph.D. program is to train clinician scientists who can integrate the two different worlds of basic research with clinical application and patient care.
John Watt, Ph.D.
Director, M.D./Ph.D. Scholar's Program
Director, Research Experience for Medical Students Program (REMS)