MD/MS in Clinical and Translational Science (MD/MS CTS)

Medical students interested in conducting research and transferring clinical skills from “bench to the bedside,” “study to practice,” and “practice to policy” should consider participating in the University of Illinois College of Medicine MD/MS CTS Joint Degree Program.

Program description

Combining the strength of the University of Illinois College of Medicine with the only fully accredited School of Public Health in Illinois as well as innovative clinical and translational research opportunities, the MD/MS CTS joint degree provides a unique opportunity to formally learn about the scientific process, develop relationships with specialty mentors, and prepare for careers as clinician-scientists in academic medicine.

Through CTS didactic coursework and a mentored research project in one of several participating clinical departments, the MD/MS CTS helps build a new generation of skilled clinician-investigators focused on improving patient health outcomes through research. Graduates of the MD/MS CTS Joint Degree Program are ready to enter and capitalize on residency and fellowship programs that provide research opportunities combined with clinical training. Prior combined degree participants have been academically prolific, and have matched at highly competitive, top tier training programs.

As part of the MS in Clinical and Translational Science, students learn to communicate their insights effectively, to write well-conceived and persuasive grant applications, complete research hours to collect data that is then written into a thesis paper and also formatted into a presentation for a Thesis Examining Committee. Students learn the importance of ethical treatment of their subjects and as apprentice clinical investigators, and they learn how to participate in a broader multidisciplinary research community that includes basic and social scientists, as well as clinicians from other areas of clinical practice.

The joint degree program allows students to complete both degrees in 5 years, with a leave of absence from the College of Medicine during Year 4 to complete the MD/MS CTS curriculum, followed by return to complete final year of medical school while also completing the mentored research and thesis requirement for the MS degree. Students interested in pursuing the joint MD/MS CTS degree are encouraged to apply within the first 6 months of Phase 1 or within the first 6 months of Phase 2. Students would typically complete 3 years of medical school and then take a leave of absence during Year 4 to complete the MD/MS CTS curriculum. After Year 4, students return to complete their final year of medical school while also completing the mentored research and thesis requirement for the MS degree.

Program outcomes

Prior combined degree participants have been academically prolific, and have matched at top-tier residency programs. For more information of program outcomes (in the University of Illinois Department of Radiology), please read this publication.

Qualifications

All medical students are eligible to participate. University of Illinois School of Public Health tuition and fees will apply for the MS CTS portion of the program. Completion of USMLE step 1 is required. Previous research experience is of benefit.

Responsibilities

Participants will complete MS CTS coursework; design and conduct clinical research; record and maintain research data; perform statistical data analysis, prepare manuscripts for journal publication and abstracts for presentation at national meetings; complete a mentored MS research project thesis and defense.

Compensation

Graduate student stipend allotted by participating departments listed below; stipend at departmental discretion for other units. University of Illinois School of Public Health tuition and fees will apply for the MS CTS portion of the program.

Representative participating departments and contacts

  • Department of Radiology, Division of Interventional Radiology (Chicago) – Ron C. Gaba M.D. M.S. (rgaba@uic.edu)
  • Department of Neurosurgery (Chicago) – Ali Alaraj M.D. (alaraj@uic.edu)
  • OrthoIllinois (Rockford) – Sherry Falsetti Ph.D. (falsetti@uic.edu)

Admission requirements

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements:

  • Students must meet the admissions criteria of both programs, but apply via a single Joint Degree program application package to College of Medicine Special Curricular Programs
  • Admission to the MS CTS program will be determined based on the support of the College of Medicine Associate Dean for Admissions and Special Curricular Programs and Director of Medical Student Research, previous academic achievement, research potential, and commitment to CTS as evidenced by prior participation in clinical research
  • Letters of Recommendation: Two required, one of which must be from a suitable clinical researcher who can attest to the applicant’s research abilities. Both letters of recommendation should address:
    • The applicant’s previous achievements in research and/or academics;
    • The applicant’s potential for successfully completing a clinical/translational research project;
    • Analysis of the applicant’s career plans and commitment to research and how the joint degree would advance these plans
  • Personal Statement: Applicants should submit a personal statement detailing accomplishments to date, as well as career goals and plans. Specifically, applicants should address background information relevant to their interest in clinical and translational research, and how additional training through the MD/MS CTS Program would help achieve these goals. The applicant should provide any prior or ongoing research experience and explain how this might interface with the joint degree program.

Degree requirements and curriculum

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, students must meet the following program requirements

  • Students in the program must satisfy the requirements of the MS CTS, a 48-semester hour program, and satisfy four years of the required medical degree program.
  • All students in the MD/MS CTS program pursue the joint degree at a full-time pace
  • For the MS CTS, students must adhere to all relevant Graduate College policies, including minimum GPA and limits on transfer credit.
  • No more than 12 total hours will be allowed for shared course work.
  • Mentored research component: 16 semester hours of required mentored research, producing a paper that is a scholarly contribution to the field in the form of a journal article, pilot data for a grant application, and a thesis-defense of the paper/research and data. A maximum of 8 hours of the required 16 hours of mentored research may be applied as a research elective in M4 elective requirement.
  • A maximum of 8 hours of credit of the required 16 hours of mentored research may be applied as a research elective in M4 elective requirement. With proper planning and prior approval by the College of Medicine Associate Dean for Admissions and Special Curricular Programs, joint degree students may receive additional credit toward the M4 electives by taking an advanced level Public Health course.
  • Electives: 11 semester hours. With proper planning and prior approval by the School of Public Health, joint degree students may receive additional credit toward the MS CTS elective requirement by taking an approved nonclinical medical elective.

Sample schedule

SemesterEnrollmentCourseCredit hours
SummerCOMStep 2 Clinical Knowledge/Clinical Skills exam
FallSPHBSTT 400 Biostatistics I

EPID 403 Introduction to Epidemiology

GC 501 Scientific Integrity and Responsible Research

HPA 526 Leadership and Diversity in Clinical Research

IPHS 520 Foundations of Public Health

Elective – BPS 508 Concepts in Drug Development: From Bench to Bedside

Initial Research Proposal Defense

4

3

1

2

3

3

SpringSPHBSTT 400 Biostatistics II

BHIS 509 Informatics for the Clinical Investigator HPA 522 Public Health Research Design and Methods or NURS 572 Research Design and Methods

Elective – BSTT 506 Design of Clinical Trials

IPHS 598 Research in Public Health Sciences

3

3

4

4

4

SummerCOMHPA 590 Grant Writing

IPHS 598 Research in Public Health Sciences

MS Elective – HPA 459 Introduction to Health Inequities in the United States

Clinical rotations

1

4

3

FallCOMIPHS 598 Research in Public Health Sciences

Clinical rotations

8
SpringCOMClinical rotations

Final Research Proposal Defense

Note: courses offered during a given term are subject to change at any time. Visit https://ossswebcs4.admin.uillinois.edu/PORTAL_UIC/classsch.html to see current and historical class listings.

Relevant dates/deadlines for 2020-2021

  • Interested M1, M2, or M3 students should contact Ron C. Gaba M.D. (rgaba@uic.edu), Director of Medical Student Research, University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Deadline to submit Joint Degree program application package is Monday, February 3, 2020. Applications should be submitted via e-mail to Ron C. Gaba M.D. (rgaba@uic.edu), Director of Medical Student Research, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Program contacts

  • Ron C. Gaba M.D. (rgaba@uic.edu)
    Director of Medical Student Research, University of Illinois College of Medicine (Chicago)
  • Jack Zwanziger Ph.D. (jzwanzig@uic.edu)
    C.T.S. Program Director, University of Illinois School of Public Health