Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program

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A Course of Study

Year 1

Students arrive at the Tri-Institutional campus on the first Monday of July, when they begin their first research rotation. This first rotation lasts until Medical College Orientation.

Students learn about different laboratories through a series of Research Lunches to decide where they will do their second and third summer research rotations, between Year 1 and Year 2. In addition, students are guided by the Research Advisory Committee, which is composed of the Program Director, two Associate Directors, and a faculty member from each of the participating institutions. The first year curriculum is similar to that for Weill Cornell Medical College MD students, however, MD-PhD students take a two graduate-level courses designed specially for them:

  • Frontiers in Biomedical Science I is a research article-based course that introduces the students to modern developments in biomedical research.
  • Clinical and Translational Research covers concepts related to how to convert eureka moments in the laboratory to advances in the clinic.

Year 2

The second year curriculum is also similar to that for Weill Cornell Medical College MD students, with the addition of Frontiers in Biomedical Science II. The pre-clinical component ends in December, and MD-PhD students study for and take USMLE Step 1 early in the spring semester of Year 2. They then complete 18 weeks of clerkship training, which may include a Pathology elective.

After Year 2, students may elect to do up to two more laboratory rotations before selecting a thesis lab. 

By the end of Year 2, students are expected to have chosen a thesis lab, with guidance from the Research Advisory Committee.

Years 3-6

Students should be in their thesis laboratories by September of Year 3, and satisfy their remaining graduate school requirements during this year. They will write and present a Thesis Research Proposal early in Year 4, at which point they can focus solely on their thesis research.

By the fall of Year 6, students are expected to have completed their thesis research, and have written/defended their thesis.

Given the structure of the Medical College curriculum, MD-PhD students are encouraged to begin their final clinical training by December of Year 6. 

Throughout their graduate school years, students are encouraged to explore clinical career options that are designed to strengthen the ties between basic research and the clinic.

Years 6-7

Students complete their clinical training, apply for post-graduate training, and take USMLE Step 2. They also have about six months to do additional research and clinical electives.