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College of Graduate Studies

Opportunities in Translational Research

Integration of the Basic and Clinical Sciences to Provide Training in
Translational Research

In keeping with the philosophy of our program which is to rigorously train M.D./Ph.D. students, the program has a series of programs available to its students that will allow them to receive training in clinical investigation, while still learning the rigors of hypothesis driven basic science research. Below are listed opportunities that our program provides for its trainees to gain a fundamental understanding of how to conduct translational research.

As part of the NIH roadmap initiative a major emphasis has been placed on clinical and translational research. The Medical University of South Carolina is committed to the concept of developing an enhanced infrastructure to facilitate clinical and translational research.

  1. Medical Scientist Training Program Clinic in Translational Research

    Course # MDCOR-871
    Course Co-Directors:
    Perry V. Halushka, Ph.D., M.D. Program Director, MSTP
    Robin Muise-Helmericks, Ph.D. Associate Program Director, MSTP

    Duration: one 1/2 day per week for two semesters
    Credit hours: 2.5 per semester - Fulfills one third year Medical School Selective

    The goal of this clinical experience is for MSTP students to learn how to better integrate the basic sciences and their area of research interest with a meaningful clinical/translational experience. The clinical experience is conducted during the student's Ph.D. training. The students are expected to discuss the patient's problems from a literature/research perspective. They work in a clinic, one-half day a week with a clinician-scientist who is chosen based on his/her demonstrated commitment to research. This translational clinical experience is required of MSTP students. The mentors for this clinic could help the students with a potential clinical study that may evolve from their basic science project.  This experience helps the student to maintain their clinical skills and smooths their transition back to medical school.  The course plan for the Clinic in Translational Sciences follows:


    • Create an environment where students begin to develop an appreciation for the process of translational research
    • Introduce students to mentors who can serve as role models


    • Students attend clinic no more than one half-day a week and with the same faculty mentor
    • Required to attend for two semesters
    • Program is pass/fail/honors
    • Two semesters may be used to satisfy one third year selective in medical school

    Choosing a Mentor:

    • A list of mentors who are clinician-scientists is provided and approved by the Associate Program Director and/or Program Director
    • Whenever possible and/or appropriate the students will choose a mentor/clinic that is related to their dissertation research

    Schedule with Mentor:

    • Introductory period to gain familiarity with the clinic
    • Mentor assigns patient(s)
    • Students will evaluate no more than one new patient per clinic and will see their return patients
    • Students are responsible for patient care (history, physical examinations, diagnosis and treatment plan) while the patient is under the care of that clinic

    Clinical Research:

    • Students will research the latest concepts concerning the patient's disease and discuss them with the clinician-scientist

    Expectations of Students:

    • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of the disease
    • Provide support for diagnosis and treatment that they propose
    • Demonstrate knowledge of current literature and provide references
    • Acquire proficiency in the history and physical examination

    Expectations of Mentors:

    • Constructively challenge student's knowledge of current research literature
    • Practice evidence based medicine
    • Help the student gain skills in the history, physical examination, differential diagnosis and treatment

    Evaluation of the MSTP clinic in translational sciences:

    • Both students and mentors are required to fill out an evaluation form at the end of each semester
  2. Rotation in the SCTR Research Nexus

    Course # MED-832
    Course Co-Directors:
    Dr. Carol Wagner and Dr. Thomas C. Hulsey

    During the senior year of medical school, MSTP students spend a month in the SCTR Research Nexus.  The center is the hub of clinical investigation. The time is spent in a series of experiences that provide a significant exposure to clinical/translational research. Students spend time working with clinical researchers, attend Institutional Review Board meetings, attend SCTR Research Nexus advisory committee meetings, attend lectures about clinical research topics and meet with the support personnel for the SCTR Research Nexus. The major objective is for the student to write a clinical translational research study in the form of an R21 grant application based on the discoveries made during the basic science research that he/she conducted during the PhD years. Alternatively, students may design a study based on their future career path. A full study is developed along with an informed consent. The student works with a mentor and obtains all the help necessary to fully develop the clinical study. At the end of the course the student formally presents his/her research study to members of the SCTR Research Nexus, selected other individuals and to the rest of the MSTP students. While this experience per se will not make the student an accomplished clinical investigator, it will break down some of the myths and barriers real or perceived that have impeded MD/PhD students from conducting clinical translational research.

    • Students will develop an understanding of and foundation in the principles of Clinical Investigation
    Students will:
    • Participate in the protocols being conducted in the SCTR Research Nexus
    • Attend the SCTR Research Nexus advisory committee meeting
    • Attend an IRB meeting
    • Develop a clinical investigation research study based on their dissertation research or future career path and present it for approval
    • Learn statistical approaches used in clinical investigation

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