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 8 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
Graduate Studies, Years Three and Beyond
Translational Sciences Clinic
Medicine, Year Three
Medicine, Year Four
MSTP Activites and Events
MSTP Seminar Series
Translational Medicine Seminars
A Month in the Research Nexus Presentations
MSTP Annual Student Research Day
MUSC Student Research Day Competition
Invited Seminar Speakers
The first 18 months of the program follow the newly implemented integrated flex medical curriculum. Students spend the summers before their first year familiarizing themselves with research laboratories at MUSC. They complete the second year of medical school with their entering class. The National Board Examination Step I is taken in early Spring of the second year. After completing the NBME Step I Exam, the students begin a second lab rotation.
After completing a second lab rotation, students may either take a third rotation or choose their lab and 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, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Cell Injury and Repair; Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences; Gene Medicine; Lipidomics; Microbiology and Immunology; Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology; Neurosciences; Pathology; Proteomics; Public Health Sciences; Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology; and Structural Biology.
MSTP students take selected sections of the core curriculum offered to first year graduate students. These are both required sections and elective sections, the later chosen in consulation with the graduate coordinator and mentor. The courses cover broad topics dealing with professional development, techniques of rigorous experimental design, learning from the literature, entrepreneurship, responsible conduct of research, and principles of grant writing.
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 the third year of Medical School. The Program requires that the Dissertation be defended by the end of the calendar year.
The MSTP Progress Committee evaluates individual performance after each semester of study during the first two years and then annually thereafter.
The goal of this requirement 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 students are expected to discuss the patient's problems from a literature/research perspective. They will work in a clinic, one-half day a week with an extramurally funded clinician-scientist who is chosen based on his/her demonstrated commitment to research. All MSTP students are required to register for two (2) semesters of this clinic. It is suggested that the student participate in the clinic during their second or third year of graduate school. The student receives 4 weeks of senior selective credit for the 2 semesters. The mentors for this elective could help the students with a potential clinical study that may evolve from their basic science project.
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, neurology rehabilatation and psychiatry. There are also three-week selective rotations that allow students to explore subspeciality areas.
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.