The focus of the Medical Scientist (MD-PHD) Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is to train outstanding young people from across the United States in the intellectual discipline of being a scientific investigator and a thoroughly trained physician.  Although the ultimate career pathway for individual trainees may range from the conduct of basic biomedical research to clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents or procedures, the net effect of this cadre of investigators will be to increase the translation of basic biomedical understanding into clinical practice.

The UAB MSTP is a member of the UAB Graduate School: Graduate Biomedical Sciences Office, and the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and therefore must abide by all UAB policies that pertain to each group, respectively.

A. MSTP Leadership

The MSTP Program Director is appointed by the Dean of the UAB School of Medicine (SOM) and oversees all aspects of the program.  The MSTP Associate Directors are nominated by the MSTP Director and the Dean of the School of Medicine.  The MSTP Program Manager is a full-time staff member, who reports to the Program Director and manages all aspects of the program.  The Program Coordinators assist with administrative duties and coordinates summer programs affiliated with the MSTP and Physician Scientist Development Office (PSDO).  The UAB MSTP offices are located in the Physician Scientist Development Office at 1825 University Boulevard in the Shelby Building, Suite 121.  The official UAB MSTP website is http://www.mstp.uab.edu.

 

B. MSTP Advisory Committee (MSTPAC)

The MSTP Advisory Committee (MSTPAC) consists of 10 members from the SOM faculty: one member from the School of Public Health, the MSTP Director, MSTP Associate Director, MSTP Clinical Associate Director, and four rotating MSTP faculty members. There are no specified terms for the Director or Associate Directors.  Each new committee member is nominated by the MSTP Director and appointed by the Dean of the SOM to a 4-year term.  Two members rotate off the committee and two new members are appointed each year. The MSTPAC has four formal meetings per year, in which each of the following topics is covered: 1) recruitment issues; 2) evaluation of student progress, retention, and time in the research lab; 3) curriculum review; and 4) admission decisions for new students.

In addition to serving as a policy advisory group and admissions committee for the program, each MSTPAC committee member serves as an MSTP Advisor to 3-5 students in the program.  The MSTP advisor is expected to meet with each student at least once yearly and serves as a full member on the student’s dissertation committee. The MSTP advisor is expected to submit yearly written evaluations of each student in his/her/their clinical years at the beginning of each new academic year (August/September). For students in their graduate years, the MSTP advisor is expected to submit a summary of the twice yearly thesis committee meetings within 2 weeks of each meeting. 

 

C. Admission to the MD-PhD Program

Admission to the MD-PhD program requires an application to the University of Alabama School of Medicine (UASOM) through the AMCAS system, including any secondary material requested by the UASOM and/or the MSTP.  Interviews with applicants who are deemed to have suitable credentials will be conducted by members of the MSTPAC and members of the Admissions Committee in the UASOM.  To the extent possible, the interviews will be coordinated so that they can be accomplished during a single visit by the applicant.  Acceptance into the program is initiated by the MSTP based on decisions by the MSTPAC and requires approval of the UASOM Admissions Committee. 

 

D. Admissions Procedures for Students with Advanced Standing

Admissions Procedures for Medical Students with Advanced Standing: Applications are also encouraged from current students enrolled in the UASOM. Transfers from regular MD to the MSTP can only occur after completion of the second year of Medical School. Such an application can be obtained from the MSTP or UASOM Admissions Office and does not require the student to complete an AMCAS application.  Successful admission depends on the student demonstrating a commitment to a research career and a satisfactory academic record in the UASOM.  Guidelines for applicants from the UASOM and applicants from other medical schools are as follows:

  • Applicants from schools other than the UASOM must demonstrate compelling circumstances as one of the reasons for their request for transfer.
  • Completed applications will be reviewed by the UASOM Admissions Office and the MSTP Office.  Completed applications must include an official transcript and an official letter of evaluation from the Dean/Associate Dean for Student Affairs or other appropriate official of the applicant’s current school.  This letter must state the eligibility (or expected eligibility) of the individual for promotion to the next academic year at the student’s current school.  The letter should address the academic and non-academic qualification of the individual for the eventual practice of medicine. Specific comment should be included on any infractions of the school’s code of ethical and behavioral conduct.
  • The UASOM Admissions Office and MSTP both must agree to offer the applicant interviews in order for the applicant to be given further consideration.
  • Interviews will be coordinated with each office and conducted as determined by each office.
  • Applicants not invited will be notified by letter signed by the UASOM Admissions Office and MSTP.
  • The applicant must be acceptable to both the UASOM Admissions Office and the MSTP.
  • Accepted applicants will be notified in writing by the UASOM Admissions Office as well as by the MSTP.
  • Applicants not accepted will be notified by letter signed by the UASOM Admissions Office and MSTP.
  • Acceptance is contingent on the applicant having a passing score on the USMLE Step 1.  Applicants must complete this requirement prior receiving a formal letter of acceptance.
  • Applications will not be considered from students who will have started their third year of medical school prior to transfer.
  • Applications are accepted in later winter/early spring based on the UASOM advance standing application cycle

Admissions Procedures for Graduate Students with Advanced Standing:  Applications are also accepted from students currently enrolled as a graduate student at UAB Graduate School.  These students would usually be in their first year of graduate school.  Applications are not accepted from students who have already passed their qualifying exam and advanced to candidacy or who will have passed their qualifying exam prior to transfer.

Applicants applying to the MSTP for admission with advanced standing must meet the admission requirements for admission to the School of Medicine and the MSTP. 

Applicants must apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) website (http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/start.htm) and are subject to normal UASOM application deadlines. On this site applicants submit essays, grades, MCAT scores, etc., and select the schools they wish to apply to. AMCAS then sends the application to the UAB MSTP.  The application usually opens mid-summer and applications are accepted until November 1st for admission the following Fall semester.

Applicants are interviewed with and compete against the complete pool of regular applicants. If accepted, students must take a leave of absence from their graduate programs in order to complete the first 2 years of medical school.  At that time, they will then return to their laboratory and graduate program to complete the requirements for the PhD degree.

The curriculum for the MSTP is determined by the program director in consultation with the MSTPAC and is approved by the UASOM Medical Education Committee (MEC) and the Deans of the School of Medicine and the Graduate School.  The MSTP requires that students maintain an acceptable level of academic performance in both the medical and graduate school phases of the curriculum.

A. MS1-MS2: Medical Courses and Research Rotations  
B. GS1-GS5: Graduate Courses and Dissertation Research
C. Completion of PhD & Transition to Clinics
D. MS3-MS4: Clinical Rotations
E. Leave of Absence and Approved Personal Time Away

Funded students who matriculate in the MSTP will receive three financial benefits, as long as they remain in good standing in the program: a stipend, paid tuition and fees, and access to an enhancement fund. 

A. Stipend
B. Tuition and Fees
C. Enhancement Fund
D. Reimbursements: UAB and MSTP Guidelines
E. Recruitment Meal Guidelines
F. Extracurricular Activities
G. Taxes

Each of the listed forms is a core requirement of the program and failure to complete these forms by the specified deadline may result in delays in your academic transition or disciplinary consequences as described in the handbook.  

 

Laboratory Rotation and Mentor Selection Forms 


MSTP students are required to complete three separate research laboratory rotations with three different mentors prior to selecting a mentor for their doctoral dissertation.  The laboratories are chosen by the student and are based on the student's area of interest and information provided by each faculty on his or her research program.  After the completion of their rotations, students must select a thesis mentor and laboratory for their dissertation research by the summer after the MS-II year and submit the MSTP Thesis Mentor Selection Form and MSTP Research Commitment Statement to the MSTP Office for approval.

 

Graduate Committee Selection, Committee Meeting Evaluation, and Admission to Candidacy Forms


MSTP students should attempt to have their dissertation committee established by spring term of their GS1 year. The Graduate Study Committee form must be completed, signed by the Theme Director or Co-Director, and submitted to the MSTP Office for processing.


MSTP students are required to have two committee meetings per year throughout their tenure in the lab (i.e. once every 6 months). The listed forms (MSTP Student, PhD Mentor, MSTP Advisor) must be returned to the MSTP Program Manager within 2 weeks of each thesis committee meeting. 


MSTP students will be admitted to candidacy once they have past their required qualifying exam. This form should be signed the same day of the oral section of the qualifier and submitted to the MSTP Office for processing

 

Doctoral Graduation and Returning to Clinic Forms


Students must be completely finished with all PhD degree requirements prior to beginning any clinical clerkships.  In general, this means the PhD dissertation must be completed and successfully defended per the Graduate School guidelines. Your application for degree must be submitted to the Graduate School before the current semester deadline. The MSTP Student and Mentor PhD Evaluation forms provide an final assessment of the research experience. 

Given the desire for students to begin the clinical phase in a timely fashion after completing the Dissertation and the logistical issues involved in scheduling specific clerkships with the Medical School Registrar, specific plans concerning the start date in clinical rotations need to be made prior to the actual completion of the PhD.  Because this transition involves key changes in the financial responsibility for the student stipend and tuition payments, Medical or Graduate School, it is imperative that the MSTP office has documentation of the effective date of this transition.

The Physician Scientist Research Elective is in place for those who are in need of a research elective that fits within their interest in academic medicine. To register for this course, approval must be received from the Associate Dean for Physician Scientist Development and the coursemaster. Learning Objectives: The student should learn the knowledge to identify a suitable biomedical research questions, formulate a hypothesis, design a suitable experimental procedure, obtain data, and properly analyze it.

 

Other Forms


Extracurricular Activities in Addition to MSTP Appointment

There are times when MSTP students can participate in extracurricular activities outside of their MSTP pre-doctoral trainee appointment. Prior approval must be sought from the MSTP Director before you agree to participate. 

 

Parental Leave

Parental Leave of Absence with pay is approved for 30 consecutive days per calendar year upon the birth or adoption of a child. After 30 consecutive days, you will be moved to unpaid status until your return to the MD/PHD Program. The Parental Leave form must be completed and approved by the MSTP Director prior to the birth of the child or finalization of the adoption.

 

Travel Information Form

To be compliant with FLSA and NIH standards, all students are required to complete the MSTP Travel Information Form. It is the responsibility of the student to seek approval from the Course Director(s), Thesis Mentor, and MSTP Office well in advance of travel to ensure that the time away does not interfere with mandatory course work or laboratory duties.Personal days should not exceed more than 15 calendar days per year and must be approved prior to any travel plans. UAB Designated Holidays do not apply to total number of personal days (https://www.uab.edu/humanresources/home/benefits/holidaysUAB-Related International Travel Registration can be found at http://uabfinancial.infomedia.com/forms.asp. This form is required for all students who plan to attend a conference outside of the United States