Every UNC MD-PhD student must participate in the following activities or complete the following items:
The MD-PhD Retreat is an annual event held the weekend before medical school orientation (usually the first weekend in August). We “force” you to go the beach for a whole weekend, eat great food, get to know your classmates, and do a bit of MD-PhD business along the way. This is an event for MD-PhD Program students and staff only (not spouses and significant others). The 2019 retreat is scheduled for July 26 – 28 at the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC.
Every other Monday night during the academic year we host an evening seminar. Faculty speakers make presentations about their science as well as their life as academicians. Dinner is provided; all you need to do is show up (well, first year students are also expected to help by cleaning up after the event)!
Each MD-PhD student must complete a minimum of two research rotations. While we do not require that students complete a rotation before starting the first year of medical school, this is highly recommended. We have found that those students who choose to complete a research rotation before starting medical school tend to have a somewhat easier transition into graduate school.
Students who have already completed one year of medical school and one research rotation will have the option of completing two shorter (5-6 week) rotations rather than one longer (10-12 week) rotation.
After you have completed your first rotation, you are expected to turn in a written abstract. After your second rotation, you are expected to turn a written abstract and give a poster presentation. The professors who served as summer mentors will evaluate your poster. In addition, each mentor will turn in a summary evaluation describing your experience in his or her lab.
Computer Science Rotation- If you are considering the computer science department for your PhD, you will need to take your first rotation in that department. Computer Science at UNC is a highly competitive department. The department reserves the right not to enroll MD-PhD students into their PhD program if it deems the student is not competitive with their own applicant pool.
Summer Rotations and Lunch and Learn Series
All first and second year MD-PhD students conducting summer research rotations are asked to participate in our lunch and learn series called: “Rotons of the MSTP.” At each luncheon, three 10-minute talks are given by these students. In this setting, the rotation students are able to hear about the research being conducted by their peers and learn about good scientific presentation skills. Each speaker is asked to bring along his or her PI and other senior members of the lab, to encourage and enrich the dialogue.
Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP)
The Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) brings together the basic science graduate programs under an umbrella structure.All first year MD-PhD students are required to participate in the First Year Groups (FYG) run by the BBSP. Students are assigned to small, interest-based groups led by several graduate school faculty members. These FYGs meet every week in an informal course setting to work on critical thinking and scientific communication skills (scientific reading, writing, speaking, etc).
Incorporated into the FYG curriculum are Quantitative Skills Sessions and six Ethics Seminars. FYG faculty members lead these small groups and function as academic advisors to the students participating in their FYGs. These FYGs are also used as a mechanism to create a community within the BBSP environment and open the door into the graduate school environment. In this capacity, MD-PhD students are able to build relationships within the graduate school that will help them make good choices in terms of finding research rotations, choosing a PhD department, and eventually choosing a PhD thesis advisor.
Responsible Conduct of Research
We are continually working with both the School of Medicine faculty and the leadership of the BBSP to revise the content and delivery of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for our MSTP students. The goal is to expand the RCR curriculum so that it spans all phases of your combined-degree training. This allows for more in-depth exploration of topics and identification of how the principles of RCR are to be applied in the medical and graduate school settings. You will be expected to participate in this curriculum throughout all years of training.
Longitudinal Clinical Clerkship (LCC)
Before the middle of your first year of graduate school, you will work with your PhD thesis advisor and the MD-PhD Program Directors to choose a clinical scholar mentor whose area of interest touches upon your research focus. Your clinical scholar mentor will provide you with longitudinal clinical experience to bring as much clinical relevance as possible to your research project. Our goal is that the clinical mentor becomes a sustaining role model for you, and your mentor often serves on your thesis committee (though this is not required).
While the structure of the LCC varies considerably from one student to the next, this has become a mandatory requirement of the graduate school experience. You will register for the Longitudinal Clinical Clerkship at the beginning of your second year of graduate school and will receive six credit hours and exemption from the Advanced Practice Selective that is required for fourth year medical students.
All students are expected to complete the process of becoming a resident of the State of North Carolina. Once residency is established, you will need to submit a residency application form to the Medical School. This form should be submitted during the summer between your first and second years.
All incoming UNC medical students must bring a laptop to the program. Student laptops are required for all exams and should be in good working condition. Students may choose their own device as long as it meets minimum requirements as determined by the Medical School. The computer purchase is the expense and responsibility of the student. The MD-PhD Program is not able to purchase the computer for you.
Required Forms, Applications, and Information
Throughout the course of your time in the MD-PhD Program, we will require you to complete, update, or sign various forms and paperwork. While much of it may seem bureaucratic, we assure you they all serve a purpose and we are not trying to torture you. Please respond promptly to all requests from the MD-PhD Program office, the School of Medicine, and the Graduate School departments.