MD/Ph.D. Degree Requirements

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1 COMBINED MD/Ph.D. DEGREE REQUIREMENTS MD/Ph.D. Program Eligibility Application to the Program General Requirements of the Program T he combined MD/Ph.D. degree program at the University of Toledo offers students the opportunity to receive outstanding training, both as physicians and as basic scientists. Graduates will be equipped to conduct independent biomedical research pertinent to understanding disease mechanisms while providing contemporary patient care in an academic setting. It usually takes about 7 years to complete all degree requirements of the combined MD/Ph.D. program. There is a serious shortage of trained medical researchers, and you can affect far more lives through research than you can solely as an individual medical practitioner. It is expected that students admitted into the program will have evidence of interest and ability in research prior to acceptance. Candidates will usually have a baccalaureate with a solid foundation in the physical, biological, mathematical, and social sciences. A GPA of 3.5 or above, and MCAT scores averaging at least 10 are preferred. Students interested in the combined degree program will apply concurrently to the College of Medicine and the College of Graduate Studies Health Science Campus. Students in the MD or Ph.D. program will be eligible to apply for admission to this program during their course of study. Students must be accepted into both colleges. Then, the MD/Ph.D. Committee, which has representatives from both Colleges Admissions Committees, will review applications to the combined degree program. The admissions process will include interviews by members of both the College of Medicine and the College of Graduate Studies faculty from the area(s) of interest to the student. The MD/Ph.D. Committee will make recommendations about acceptance into the combined program to the Senior Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Dean of the College of Medicine, who will make the final decision. Students must meet all the requirements for each of the individual degrees: 104 credits of medical education and a minimum of 90 graduate credits. 197

2 Students will be allowed to apply up to 26 credits from Medical School courses toward their Ph.D. degree, of which only 20 credits may be applied toward the minimum requirement of 25 didactic (carrying a letter grade) graduate course credits. Thus, an additional 5 didactic graduate credits would be required for the Ph.D. degree. (Refer to the Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences Degree Requirements for further information.) Choosing a laboratory for your rotation is one of the most important and challenging steps of your Ph.D. education, and you should put substantial effort into making the best choice. We have developed a working mechanism to guide you in this endeavor. We encourage you to attend seminars and discuss with faculty their projects and the focus of their laboratories. Selection of the Advisory Committee: You and your major advisor should together select an academic advisory committee. Members of the committee should be chosen according to their expertise. Consult with them frequently on an individual basis and arrange for formal meetings with the committee as a group, at least once a year. Make sure that your major advisor completes an Advisory Committee meeting report at the end of each meeting. Plan of Study Form: This form must be filled out and submitted prior to the Qualifying Examination. Research: Your research project is the heart of your doctoral education. It is supposed to be the most exciting and motivating portion of earning a Ph.D. degree. To ensure smooth progress, work closely with your major advisor and the rest of the research team in the laboratory. Meet regularly with your advisory committee and seek advice from individual committee members whenever needed. The committee members are an excellent extra source of guidance. Remember that you can take the initiative to meet with individual committee members or to suggest that a committee meeting be held. Establish a reasonable goal to publish your observations per your major advisor s recommendations. Publishing your observations bears a strong testimony to your achievement and hard work. 198

3 Dissertation: A committee meeting must be held to seek approval from the advisory committee to begin writing your dissertation. Upon obtaining their approval, begin writing your dissertation using the guidelines provided by the College of Graduate Studies. When the committee acknowledges that the dissertation is sufficient and in a written form that is ready to defend, you may proceed with defending your thesis. The oral defense must be scheduled 4 weeks prior to public presentation. Upon completion, a Report of Dissertation Examination should be completed and returned to the College of Graduate Studies Health Science Campus. Some committee members may recommend modification of the dissertation. Upon completing the modifications, a Final Approval of the Dissertation form should be signed by all committee members in accordance with the College of Graduate Studies Health Science Campus requirements. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology Program Requirements Laboratory Rotation (CMNP660/ /863): All Ph.D. students in the program take four lab rotations. The experience students gain in doing research rotations will make it possible for them to choose a laboratory in which to complete their dissertation research, a choice which must be made prior to the beginning of the fall semester of the second year in the Ph.D. program. Rotations will allow students to gain insight into the varied approaches that can be taken to experimental design in molecular, cellular and systems neuroscience, to obtain hands-on experience with new techniques, and to learn the excitement of discovery at the laboratory bench. Each student will complete four 8-week research rotations. An MD student accepted into the MD/Ph.D. program who has done a summer research rotation may receive credit for one lab rotation for this previous experience. Students are encouraged to give a great deal of thought to the laboratories chosen and the order in which the research rotations will be conducted. During the first week of fall classes, students will have the opportunity to learn about the research ongoing in the laboratories of CMN faculty. A rotation represents an agreement between the student and the faculty member. To gain the maximum benefit from the experience, students are encouraged to make research rotations varied in terms of research topics and techniques. The specific requirements for this course are available from the course director. 199

4 Seminars in Neuroscience (CMNP650/850): CMN seminars are usually held on Tuesdays at noon. Attendance is required during a student s Ph.D. studies. MD students are strongly encouraged to attend these seminars during the first 2 years of their MD studies. Students also are encouraged to attend Neurology Grand Rounds, which are usually held on Thursdays at noon. Attendance at seminars can be a valuable learning experience and also facilitate choosing an area of study for the Ph.D. CMN Course of Studies: MD/Ph.D. candidates follow the same course of studies as Ph.D. students in the program. In the first semester of the Ph.D. portion of the program this includes: Cellular and Molecular Biology (INDI684/884) Methods in MCB (MCPB601/801) Principles of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (CMNP601/801) Lab Rotation I or II (CMNP660 or CMNP661) Students should refer to PhD. program requirements for additional required courses in the second and subsequent semesters and the overall plan of study. A total of 15 credits are required per semester; 10 in the summer semester. A list of electives is available from the program director. Electives are selected with the recommendation and approval of a student s advisor. Molecular Basis of Disease Program Requirements At this stage, your goal should be to learn the basic methods and thought processes required for successful progress in biomedical research. Laboratory Rotations (MBDP650/850): Our web page lists the MBD faculty with a brief description of their interests. The MBD program director can help orient you among laboratories that would best match your interests. The sooner you communicate your interests to the MBD faculty, the easier the decision becomes. Two rotations are required, but you may rotate in up to four laboratories before choosing one for your Ph.D. research. Two rotations are usually done during the summer between the first and second year in medical school. However, funding is available the summer before you begin medical school, and it is possible to do two rotations during that summer. 200

5 The summer research stipend supports 12 weeks of research, and you may prefer to split the 12 weeks into two 6-week rotations in two laboratories. If you decide to do three rotations per summer, you would spend 4 weeks on each of the three. If you need to change rotation laboratories, we encourage you to discuss the situation with the faculty and the program director. They would help you find an alternative rotation. Seminars in MBD (MBDP630/830): This course, usually held on Tuesdays at noon, is required during your Ph.D. studies (see below). Although not required in the first 2 years of the MD portion, attending these seminars would enhance your familiarity with the topics and progress of research in the program. This will help you choose rotation laboratories that best suit your interests. During your Ph.D. training, you present your studies in this seminar course (and in the MBD Research Retreat and College of Graduate Studies Forum). This will give you the opportunity to develop communication skills and gather more ideas that may help you test your hypotheses. Course of Studies: Once you select a laboratory, you should enroll in the following courses: Research in MBD (MBDP699/899) On Being a Scientist (INDI602/802) Seminars in MBD (MBDP630/830) Journal Club in MBD (MBDP660/860) Methods in Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCBP601/801) Statistical Methods I (INDI532) Electives: per your advisor s approval and recommendation The total credits are 15 per semester and 10 per the summer semester. Qualifying Examination: It is recommended that this examination be taken by the end of the first year of your Ph.D. studies. The exam includes a written and an oral component. The written part constitutes a proposal for your Ph.D. dissertation studies. It should be written as an NIH grant proposal. The proposal should be distributed to the committee members at least 2 weeks before the 201

6 oral examination. The signature of the MBD program director must be obtained at the time the oral exam is scheduled. Upon completion of the exam, you should obtain the signatures of the advisory committee members on the Report of the Qualifying Examination form and return it to the College of Graduate Studies Health Science Campus office. The form is available online at Molecular and Cellular Biology Program Requirements The program provides training and in depth knowledge of cell function from the molecular to the cellular level. Our goal is to enable students to become independent clinical researchers. Courses in the first year of the program cover the current state of knowledge in molecular biology, cell biology, signal transduction and biochemistry. Rotations give students the hands-on experience needed to select a laboratory and major advisor for their dissertation research work. Individualized research training is at the heart of doctoral training. It allows students to apply the basic principles learned in courses and readings to a new understanding of biological processes of medical significance through the studies that they undertake. The results of such studies, at the bench and in the clinic, form the basis for future discovery of new cures and treatments for human genetic and infectious diseases. College of Graduate Studies core requirement: On Being a Scientist (INDI602) Cellular and Molecular Biology (INDI684/884) Molecular and Cellular Biology Core: The first year Phase I fulfills this requirement for MD/Ph.D. combined students. Core MCB course requirements: Methods in MCB (MCBP601/801) Receptors and Signal Transduction (PHRM607/807) Readings in MCB (MCBP656/856) Seminars in MCB (MCBP630/830) Research in MCB (MCBP/650/850) Research Presentation (MCBP675/875) 202

7 Laboratory Rotations (Research in MCB MCBP650/850): Rotations for MD/Ph.D. students are laboratory research experiences of 6 week duration each, two of which can be taken in summer between first and second medical school year or following second year. The student works with the faculty member to identify a project and then is assisted in learning the techniques needed to undertake experiments, interpret results, and plan the next set of studies. Two rotations are required, and students can take additional rotations before choosing the faculty laboratory for their dissertation work. The choice is a mutual one between the student and faculty member. Qualifying Examination: It is recommended that this examination be taken by the end of the second year of graduate research training, and after completion of at least a year and a half of research and course work. The examination is conducted by the student s Advisory Committee, and is composed of a written proposal that is the work solely of the student and an oral presentation/discussion of the proposal. The written part is in NIH grant format and consists of specific aims and experimental plans for a research study, whose topic is chosen by the student s Advisory Committee. The topic can be but is not restricted to the subject of the student s Ph.D. dissertation studies. Financial Assistance for MD/Ph.D. Students Purpose of the Award Predoctoral Fellowship Award All students are eligible for a predoctoral fellowship award and tuition remission while enrolled as a full-time graduate student during the Ph.D. training phase of the program. The predoctoral fellowship award will be supported by the College of Graduate Studies up to a limit of 1 summer semester plus 3 years. The minimum requirement for continuation of the predoctoral fellowship award will be satisfactorily passing all courses in the medical curriculum and maintenance of a 3.0 GPA for all graduate courses. The predoctoral fellowship award is to allow students to devote fulltime to their scholarly activities and no additional employment may be undertaken which would interfere with these scholarly activities. 203

8 Retention of the Award Medical School Tuition Scholarship The student must be in good academic standing, must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree, must continuously register for 15 credits each semester (10 credits summer semester), and must abide by institutional policies published in the University of Toledo Health Science Campus General Policies and Procedures Manual (manual may be found online at the Health Science Campus Human Resources website). A special tuition scholarship program has been established for the most qualified students accepted into the MD/Ph.D. program. Up to two students per year are eligible to receive student tuition scholarship during the time they are registered as medical students. Tuition scholarship is not retroactive to the time prior to acceptance into the combined degree program. If a student leaves the combined degree program or fails to complete both degrees in a timely manner, the student will become liable for all medical school tuition that was previously waived. The minimum requirement for renewal of the tuition scholarship at the beginning of each academic year will be satisfactorily passing all courses in medical school curriculum and maintenance of a 3.0 GPA for all graduate courses. In the event that a student completes one degree and withdraws or does not continue to make satisfactory progress toward completion of the second (as determined by the Senior Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies or Dean of the College of Medicine) the student will be given 1 additional year to demonstrate that satisfactory progress is being made. If progress continues to be unsatisfactory, the student will be deemed liable for repayment of previously waived medical school tuition only. 204

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