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Case Discussion Rounds

The Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program is committed to reviewing applications holistically, with an emphasis on the applicants' commitment to physician-scientist training as evidenced by letters of recommendation, research experiences, GPA, and other academic and community accomplishments.

Associate Program Director Dr. Mark Pecker, MD runs a series of biweekly clinical case-based seminars for MD-PhD students in their research years. The goal of these seminars is to provide students in their research years the opportunity to further develop their skills in clinical reasoning and thus help them maintain familiarity with clinical medicine.

The Case Discussion Rounds are formatted after a program initially developed by a former Memorial Sloan Kettering faculty member, Bernd Gänsbacher, MD, now emeritus at Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich). 

Case Discussion Rounds

In each CDR session, one student presents a clinical case to a group of their peers without the group having prior knowledge about the case. The student presenter provides the group with the following information: chief complaint, history of present illness, social history, and findings on physical exam. The group discusses key findings, as they are presented, in their attempts to decipher the etiology of the patient's signs and symptoms.

The group is then charged with asking the student presenter for laboratory tests and providing an explanation for why they are ordering a specific test. The results of the tests are presented and a differential diagnosis is generated. A final diagnosis is proposed after any additional information has been provided. The student presenter then provides some teaching points about the case, and is asked to delineate key questions that remain unresolved regarding the disease at hand, and the implications these questions have for the treatment of patients and for future clinical investigation. This follow-up discussion usually touches on topics at the frontier of biomedical science, befitting the group's focus on becoming future physician-scientists.

The seminar's focus on pathophysiology, and Dr. Pecker's unrelenting emphasis on mechanisms, are key to the success of the Case Discussion Rounds, as Dr. Pecker helps guide the group discussion by focusing and redirecting the (sometimes meandering) line of questioning. 

Creative thinking is encouraged and expected!

MD-PhD Admissions and Gap Years

While a meaningful research experience is a requirement for admission, taking a gap year(s) is not required. We do not value research done after earning a baccalaureate any more than that done while an undergraduate. National surveys (and our own experience) have demonstrated that doing post-bacc research does not reduce the time taken to earn a PhD. Further, applicants who have taken a gap year(s) have fared no better than their peers at being offered an interview or being accepted into our program (at least since 2016).

In past years, the AMCAS verification process has taken up to eight weeks. Access to the secondary application will not be sent to the applicant until the AMCAS is verified. Applicants are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible. Please make sure all other parts of the application (letters of recommendation) are submitted so that the admissions committee can review the application as soon as it is verified and the secondary is submitted.

Important Dates (2021-2022)

AMCAS Available
May 4, 2021
MD-PhD Application Deadline (AMCAS Primary Application)
September 15, 2021
MD-PhD Application All Materials Must Be Complete By
October 20, 2021
Interview Dates*
October 7-8, 2021
October 28-29, 2021
November 18-19, 2021
Admission Decisions Made
Mid December 2021
Revisit Day
April 8, 2022
Accepted Applicants Must Select “Plan to Enroll” 
on the Choose Your Medical School tool
May 2, 2022
First Year MD-PhD Class Begins
July 1, 2022

*All interviews for this application cycle will be held remotely.

MD-PhD Applications

Please note that the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program follows the Application and Acceptance Protocols established by the AAMC. 

The Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program Interview Days are listed above. If you are applying to the program, you are strongly encouraged to keep these dates open on your calendar until you hear from us regarding a final decision. As we only have three pairs interview days, rescheduling is discouraged.

MD-PhD applicants are strongly encouraged to complete their applications as early as possible. Items that typically hold an application from achieving a complete status include letters of recommendation and the medical college's secondary form. Access to the medical college's secondary form is only emailed to applicants whose applications are verified by AMCAS. It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure their file is complete.

Successful applicants will have excellent undergraduate science preparation, substantial undergraduate research experience, and a strong commitment to combining an investigative career in the biomedical sciences with clinical medicine.


There is a national need for physician-scientists who come from underrepresented backgrounds. The Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program therefore encourages applications from students who are members of under-represented racial and ethnic groups, from disadvantaged backgrounds, and/or who have a disability.

International Students

For the class entering June 2022, applicants who are not US citizens or permanent residents are NOT eligible to apply. It is our hope that we will be able to consider such applications in the future.

Applications from DACA recipients are accepted, and encouraged, for this cycle.

Technical Standards

Successful applicants must satisfy the requirements of both the medical and the graduate components of the Program, and all matriculants must satisfy the requirements in the Medical College's Technical Standards policy. Read more about the WCM Technical Standards here