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Welcome from the UAB Heersink SOM MSTP Director

Greetings from Birmingham, Alabama - "the Magic City". Your interest in the Medical Scientist (MD-PHD) Training Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine comes at an exciting time. In the last five years, the UAB Heersink School of Medicine grew its National Institutes of Health research portfolio by $100 million, making it one of only eight schools in the country to do so. This growth catapulted the School of Medicine’s NIH ranking to the top 26 institutions among all schools and the top 10 for public medical schools. In addition, 4 departments ranked among the top 10.


The UAB MD-PHD Program was created in 1987 and was designated a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) by the National Institutes of Health (NIGMS) in 1991. We are now entering our 33rd year as an NIH NIGMS MSTP. A great milestone for physician-scientist training!

Although our program has many qualities that we share with other MSTPs, we also have many unique aspects. First, we have a truly integrated curriculum, in which MSTP students in their first and second years concurrently take both a selection of medical school and graduate school courses. This allows our students to get a head start on their graduate courses, while also getting to know both their fellow MD and PhD. classmates. Second, our MD-PhD students are highly involved in multiple aspects of the program, including being student advisors to the MSTP Directors, organizing our collaborative Southeastern MD-PhD Symposium, and planning the MSTP retreat. Finally, the program not only covers stipends, tuition, and health care, but also provides an "educational enhancement fund" that pays for the majority of required books and medical equipment during the entire training program. This support, combined with the relatively low cost of living in Birmingham, markedly decreases the financial burden of a typical medical school education.

According to a recent poll, Birmingham is one of the most livable cities in the U.S. Founded in 1871, the city soon blossomed into an industrial center and was known for its iron and steel production. Birmingham's early growth was so rapid and dramatic that it was nicknamed "The Magic City." Because of its rapid growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Birmingham has an international flavor and ethnic diversity that are unusual in the South. This diversity has been enhanced in the last two decades by the phenomenal growth of UAB, which is now the area's largest employer. The population of the area is now over a million people, making Birmingham large enough to be cosmopolitan, yet small enough to navigate easily.

Birmingham has a generally mild Southern climate, which allows our students to enjoy the city's wide variety of attractions such as year-round golf on top-notch courses including the Robert Trent Jones Golf trail, terrific restaurants and shopping, jazz clubs, and both active outdoor sports at multiple state parks, as well as spectator sports such as the Birmingham Barons and UAB football and basketball. So come take a look at our program and our city and become a part of the "Magic" of the UAB MSTP!

- Talene Yacoubian, MD, PhD