College of Graduate Studies
About the Medical Scientist Training Program
The MST program is designed to be flexible, challenging and rewarding. The course of study is specially tailored to meet the particular needs and research interests of the individual student. The student's graduate advisory committee approves their curriculum design. The curriculum sequence is coordinated to include basic science and clinical rotations in medical school, plus graduate education and sufficient time to conduct a significant research project leading to the Ph.D.
Our program encourages students to enroll during the summer before the first year of matriculation into medical school in order to conduct a meaningful research experience. Although maximum flexibility with respect to curriculum design is encouraged, the average time to complete the program is 7.7 years. For most students the program is structured as follows, however, it is very flexible and can be changed to suit the trainee's needs.
Medicine, First & Second Years
The first two years of the program follow the classical medical school curriculum. Students spend the summers before and after their first year further familiarizing themselves with research laboratories at MUSC. They complete the second year of medical school with their entering class. The National Board Examination Part I is taken at the end of the second year. During this time students usually choose a program/department and mentor with whom they will work with to conduct their dissertation research.
Graduate Studies, Years Three and Beyond
Following the second year of medical school, students pursue graduate studies leading to a Ph.D. degree. During this period of time, students should complete all of the research and scientific work necessary for a dissertation. Research training leading to a Ph.D. degree can be pursued in the following departments or programs, Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology; Bioinformatics, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; Gene Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology; Lipidomics, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology; Pathology, Neurosciences, Proteomics, Structural Biology and Toxicology. Disease areas under major investigation include aging, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurobiology of addiction.
MSTP students take selected parts of the core curriculum offered to first year graduate students. The selection of units to be taken by the MSTP students is decided via discussions with the student's mentor and graduate program coordinator. The MSTP students are required to take the Essentials of Scientific Practice and the seminar series Important Unanswered Questions in Biomedical Sciences. Essentials of Scientific Practice covers those topics that are necessary to become an accomplished scientist but are not science. They include such things as good laboratory practices, intellectual property, oral and written communication skills, how to write a grant and the ethical conduct of research. Important Unanswered Questions in the Biomedical Sciences seminar series is devoted to translational research.
The MST Program Steering Committee requires that all laboratory research necessary for completion of the Ph.D. degree be finished and the Dissertation either defended or ready for defending before the student resumes clinical studies. The Program requires that the Dissertation be defended by the end of the calendar year.
Continuation in the MST Program is contingent upon maintaining a 3.0 or better grade point average. The Progress Committee evaluates individual performance after each semester of study during the first two years and then annually thereafter.
Medicine, Year Three
The third year of medical school provides the basic clinical experiences in the major medical disciplines. Students rotate through clinical clerkships in internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine and psychiatry.
Medicine, Year Four
The final year of medical school consists of completion of the clinical requirements and electives that permit the student to further develop individual interests. Four-week subinternships are required for medicine and surgery. Electives last four to eight weeks. During the senior year, MSTP students apply for desirable internships at outstanding medical universities. Time is available for students to travel to the institutions for interviews.