School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Program Overview

About the Program

The MD/PhD program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine is aimed at a few highly motivated individuals. Our program combines outstanding scientific training with state-of-the-art clinical medicine to train individuals as physician-scientists, excelling in careers in research and education. Our program is uniquely structured to integrate clinical and scientific experiences through all years of training.

Program Overview

Recognizing that the goal of MD/PhD graduates is to pursue careers as clinician-scientists, the mission of the Wayne State University’s MD/PhD program is to provide a truly integrated clinical and scientific training experience to our students through all years of the MD/PhD program. Our program is designed to meet the individual needs of each student.

A new component of our program is the offering of an optional Graduate Certificate in Clinical and Translational Science for MD/PhD students.



Information regarding the MD/PhD program is listed below.

Years 1 and 2
Years 3-5
Years 6 and 7
Anatomy and Cell Biology
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Cancer Biology
Immunology and Microbiology
Molecular and Cellular Toxicology
Molecular Medicine and Genetics
Pathology
Physiology

Years 1 and 2

Our program begins in the first week in June prior to the start of the M.D. program of the matriculating year. In the fall of Year 1, students begin the M.D. program with the traditional M.D. class. MD/PhD activities continue through the entire academic year, and consist of a series of seminars in biomedical research and clinical areas by WSU faculty and invited guest speakers, career development activities, journal clubs and works-in-progress by MD/PhD students involved in research. In the Winter semester, students are expected to present results from their summer research rotations at an MD/PhD annual retreat. Students will continue to identify potential research mentors for their second summer research rotation which will begin at the end of Year 1.  While not required, it is recommended that students complete a third summer research rotation at the end of Year 2; however, a student can choose to pursue dissertation research with a specific mentor at the end of the second research rotation, with approval from the program director. Regardless, the student must choose the research laboratory by the end of the third summer research rotation. Students must take the USMLE Step 1 examination at the end of the Winter semester of Year 2.  Students must pass this test before they can start the graduate training.  Two attempts to pass the USMLE Step1 examination are permitted. Failure to pass the USMLE Step 1 will result in removal of the student from the MD/PhD program; such a student can, however, continue in the traditional M.D. program. Following successful passage of the USMLE Step 1 examination, the student will begin graduate training.

 


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Years 3-5

MD/PhD students begin their graduate coursework and research projects by the Fall of Year 3.  The student progress is reviewed by the Research Mentor, the Thesis Committee, as well as annually by the MD/PhD student progress review committee.

Unique to Wayne State University’s MD/PhD program is the introduction of the Integrated Clinical Experience during graduate training. Beginning in the third year of the program from January through June for one half-day per week, students participate in one continuity clinic.  For two years of the program, students can select a clinic of their choice and interest; for example, a student interested in Neuroscience can attend a Neurology clinic. In the fifth year of the program, students attend a graded Family Medicine continuity care clinic.

Students are expected to complete all graduation requirements for the Ph.D. program and all Integrated Clinical Experience requirements before proceeding to the final portion of their training. This portion of the training is flexible, but is expected to be completed in 3-4 years.

 


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Years 6 and 7

MD/PhD students return to the traditional third year of the M.D. program in one of three entry points: July 1, September 1, or January 1 of the academic year.

Unique to Wayne State University’s MD/PhD program is the introduction of the Integrated Research Experience during these clinical training years.  MD/PhD students will be allowed to take up to three months of research electives during these two years, as credit for the Integrated Clinical Experience completed during graduate training.

Students must complete all other requirements of the traditional third and fourth years of the M.D. program.  Students must also pass USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills Examinations.

Both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees will be conferred simultaneously upon successful passage of all MD/PhD degree requirements.


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Anatomy and Cell Biology

The Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology offers training for investigation of biological and biomedical problems using molecular, cellular, and morphological approaches. Faculty members are active in a diversity of research areas, including cell and developmental biology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, vision research, neural injury and plasticity, neurophysiology of ion channels, neurochemistry, reproductive and evolutionary biology, immunity and inflammation.

 


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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Students of the basic medical sciences study biochemistry with particular emphasis in the following areas: the chemical composition and environment of cells; metabolic mechanisms involved in cellular maintenance and function; the biological sources of energy and the pathways for its formation; intermediary metabolism as a dynamic interplay between cellular constituents, structures, substrates and stresses; and the role of nucleic acids in cell function. Course work in this discipline involves students principally in laboratory experiences which familiarize them with the experimental basis of biochemical concepts and techniques.


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Cancer Biology

Our major basic scientific challenge in cancer research is to determine the underlying biological basis for malignancy and the clinical challenge is to apply this basic research to the treatment of human cancer. To meet these challenges a graduate program in cancer requires a scope and approach which transcends traditional department structures, while still providing knowledge and training in many disciplines including biochemistry, pathology, molecular biology, therapeutics, immunology, pharmacology and chemistry.


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Immunology and Microbiology

The Department of Immunology and Microbiology has seventeen full-time faculty actively engaged in individual and collaborative research in the areas of immunology, virology, bacteriology, prokaryotic molecular genetics. Current research of the immunologists includes autoimmune diseases, cancer immunology, complement, immunoparasitology, infectious diseases, lymphocyte biology, neuroimmunology, mucosal immunology, immunogenetics and immune regulation. The virologists are investigating the control of viral gene expression, glycoprotein functions, molecular mechanisms in latent and persistent viral infections and transcription regulation using herpes simplex viruses, influenza and retroviruses. The bacteriologists are studying molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, regulation of bacterial gene expression in mammalian cells, ocular infections and drug delivery systems and structure-function analyses of bacterial toxins.


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Molecular and Cellular Toxicology

The Interdisciplinary Program in Molecular and Cellular Toxicology offers a wide range of research opportunities and emphasizes investigations that probe the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underwrite environmental and metabolic disease processes. Many of the available research projects examine the effects of environmental agents on transcriptional and translational regulation of gene expression, intracellular signaling, apoptosis, oxidative stress, DNA repair, and complex mechanisms in cell growth and differentiation. The Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is enriched by its support from a nationally recognized Center in Molecular and Cellular Toxicology with Human Applications, which is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


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Molecular Medicine and Genetics

The Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics offers a challenging, research-intensive graduate program leading to a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics. The program, which prepares students for careers in academia or industry, emphasizes eukaryotic molecular and cellular biology with distinct applications to genetics and molecular medicine. Doctoral candidates receive intensive laboratory training, working closely with faculty on projects at the forefront of biomedical research. The Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics is dedicated to making discoveries that lead to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease. From state-of-the-art research laboratories to internationally recognized patient clinics to the outstanding training environment for medical, graduate and postdoctoral students, the Center's innovative, interdisciplinary program uniquely brings together - and bridges - molecular medicine and genetics research and patient care activities throughout the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Detroit Medical Center campus.


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Pathology

The goal of Ph.D. Program in Cellular and Molecular Pathobiology is to focus on unveiling the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the pathogenesis of human diseases. By using a comprehensive approach, the Pathology Graduate Program provides students with the tools to carry our first-rate research with state of the art technologies and a solid understanding of clinically relevant human diseases. The faculty of the Pathology Department is actively engaged in basic research in areas of biochemistry, cell and molecular biology with emphasis in cancer metastasis, angiogenesis, cancer genetics, growth factor signalling, apoptosis, cell differentiation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and GI cell physiology Pharmacology

The discipline of pharmacology is concerned with all aspects of the effects of drugs and chemicals on living systems. The field ranges from investigations at the molecular level to population studies on a global level. Drug development and evaluation make up an important part of pharmacology, but the field also includes the use of drugs as tools to probe the functions of macromolecules, cells, organs and even whole animals, and investigation of the harmful effects of chemicals on cells, organs and animals (toxicology). The breadth of interests encompassed by pharmacology provides excellent opportunities for individuals with strong interests and training in biology or chemistry to apply their knowledge to the understanding of fundamental biological processes.


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Physiology

Physiologists study the functions of living organisms or their parts with emphasis on the characteristics of healthy, as opposed to diseased, tissues. Increasingly, the discipline has focused on the properties of single cells and their subcellular components and in this respect, has much in common with molecular biology.  However, whether at the level of the single cell or the whole organism, the aim of the physiologist is to understand those complex interrelationships between body tissues. The Ph.D. in Physiology with a concentration in the Reproductive Sciences is an integrated program incorporating the teaching, research and physical resources of both the Physiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology departments offering interdisciplinary doctoral training in the Reproductive Sciences with the degree earned through the Department of Physiology. This integrated program allows students the unique opportunity to obtain a Ph.D. degree in a clinical environment.  The curriculum represents an academic focus directed toward graduate education and research training in reproduction and development with an emphasis in the following areas:  Developmental Biology, Perinatal Biology, Reproductive Endocrinology, Reproductive Genetics, Toxicology/Teratology and Molecular Biology including genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. Dissertation research is typically performed under the mentorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology basic science graduate teaching faculty.  This new area, accomplished in conjunction with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has just been approved by the Graduate School.