Medical Research Scholars Program

Predoctoral Training at the Interface of Biology and Medicine

The Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) at Yale University bridges barriers between traditional predoctoral and medical training by providing Yale Ph.D. students with both medically oriented coursework and a mentored clinical experience. The coursework provides a grounding in biomedicine, and the clinical experience enables students to interact with patients to learn firsthand about disease symptoms, treatment options, and the limitations of current therapies. This combination of medical knowledge and face-to-face interaction with patients and their doctors provides a new perspective to Ph.D. students and enhances the rigorous training in basic science already provided within the Yale Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program. Upon completion of their training, MRSP graduates will be capable of working much more closely with physicians and physician-scientists and to independently perform clinically relevant basic research. Funding for the MRSP is provided in large part from a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute via their Med Into Grad Initiative  and the Molecular Medicine Training Grant (T32GM100884) funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Program Eligibility

The MRSP is open only to students who have already been accepted into the BBS Program, and an application is required. Eligible students will be invited to apply to the MRSP program and will be provided with the application details via e-mail. A total of about 15 students (5 first-years, 5 second-years and 5 third-years) will be enrolled as Medical Research Scholars each year. They will remain in their BBS Tracks or Departments but will participate in the additional MRSP curriculum.

The Curriculum

The MRSP consists of four classroom courses that focus first on normal human physiology and organ-based cell biology, followed by human pathobiology and then an introduction to drug discovery, validation and clinical trials (see table below). These classes will also be open to all BBS students, at the discretion of the course directors. The centerpiece of the MRSP is a two-year Mentored Clinical Experience that takes place during years two and three of the program and provides students with patient contact. Exposure to patients and to the practice of medicine will enable graduate students to work more confidently at the interface of research and medicine and facilitate future collaborations with clinical researchers. The Mentored Clinical Experience is open only to students formally enrolled as Medical Research Scholars.

Year 1
Physiological Systems
M. Saltzman, E. Boulpaep
SpringSystems Cell BiologyC. Hashimoto
Intro to Biostatistics
J. Dziura, C. Brandt

Year 2

Pathobiology-choice of #1 or #2 below:
Fall   1) Molecular Mechanisms of Human DiseaseN. Wajapeyee
Fall & Spring   2) Medical Physiology Case ConferenceE. Boulpaep
SpringTopics in Human InvestigationJ. Craft, K. Anderson
Fall & SpringMentored Clinical ExperienceE. Herzog, M. Caplan

Year 3

Fall & SpringMentored Clinical ExperienceE. Herzog, M. Caplan
FallMedical Physiology Case ConferenceE. Boulpaep
MRSP Curriculum Descriptions

Comprehensive descriptions of the above courses are available in Word by clicking here.

Program Leadership

The MRSP has two co-Directors, Michael Nitabach, Ph.D., J.D. and Anthony Koleske, Ph.D. Erica Herzog, M.D., Ph.D. and Michael Caplan, M.D., Ph.D. are Associate Directors. The administrative liaison for the MRSP is Bonnie Ellis, Student Services Officer for the BBS Program. The MRSP also has a core leadership team that includes the above individuals and John Alvaro, Emile Boulpaep, Carl Hashimoto, Karen Anderson, David Stern, Joe Craft, and Fred Gorelick.

Student Selection Process

Five new MRSP students will be selected from among the entire incoming BBS class before they arrive on campus, and they will participate in the Program during their first three years of graduate study.

Once invited to apply, the next online application deadline will be Friday, May 19, 2017. The MRSP application, along with the student’s Application for Admission to the Yale Graduate School, which was submitted for entry into the BBS Program, will be reviewed by members of the MRSP core leadership team. Selection will be based largely on the applicant’s responses on the MRSP application as well as on the applicant’s potential for successfully handling the demands of the MRSP curriculum on top of their regular BBS Track coursework and lab rotations. If necessary, students may be interviewed.

"As a scientist also interested in translational medicine, one of the many things that drew me to Yale was the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP). The combination of medically oriented classwork and interaction with clinicians and patients, provides me with an incredible and unique educational opportunity that is only available at a select number of universities in the country. The MRSP curriculum, including classes such as physiology and pathology, prepares students with the well rounded biomedical education necessary to tackle medically relevant questions while complementing our individual track course requirements. The mentored clinical experience exposes students to both clinicians and patients, which not only provides us with a learning opportunity in regards to relevant social interactions, but also motivates and challenges us to think outside of the bench. Sometimes, between the busyness of classes and lab work it is easy to forget what we are doing it all for, but the ability to physically interact with patients suffering from the diseases that we are studying in lab puts the goals of our work back into perspective." 
Cristiana Pineda 
Medical Research Scholars Program 
Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, and Physiology Track 

Photo Courtesy of Monique Aherton


MRSP Application Box

Email address

Application deadline

The next application deadline will be in Friday, May 19, 2017

Eligible students will be invited to apply via e-mail

Please direct all questions related to the application process to Bonnie Ellis.

For questions related to the Program and the curriculum, please contact John Alvaro.

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