mercaptovizadeh

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I am wondering what is the stance that MD/PhD programs (and residencies) would have towards someone doing a graduate degree in a field almost entirely unrelated to biomedical science? I am not talking about a degree in French literature, which translates very poorly into scientific thinking, but what about a PhD in say, theoretical physics (particles, gravitation, etc. i.e . NOT medical physics or biophysics) or mathematics? Both these disciplines require rigorous logical thinking and application but lack the hands on character of biology or chemistry, and, of course, do not acquaint one with the standard biomedical experimental techniques or troubleshooting.

In other words, do you think it is possible to get training as a biomedical scientist from a non-biomedical, more fundamental science degree, and then pick up the techniques and troubleshooting of say, immunology or neurology, from a fellowship or an independent project in a biomedical lab during the MSTP? Also, what do MSTPs and residency programs think of this?

I am not particularly set on the above, and I realize that mentioning it in an interview would probably not be a great idea, so I am more interested in the flexibility of the programs once you're in and the way residencies would look on this.
 

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You might check out the medical scholar's program at Univ of Illinois. I think they are pretty open to having phd students in any discipline. It might be hard to convince some MSTP's to let you do that, but it's worth checking at the programs you're interested in. (I'm doing epidemiology, and I know of others in biostatistics, and I'm surprised at how often people think that this is somewhat astray from the typical MSTP student).
 

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mercaptovizadeh said:
I am wondering what is the stance that MD/PhD programs (and residencies) would have towards someone doing a graduate degree in a field almost entirely unrelated to biomedical science?
... what about a PhD in say, theoretical physics (particles, gravitation, etc. i.e . NOT medical physics or biophysics) or mathematics?




Echo that... check out the Medical Scholars Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Current student profiles are at

http://www.med.uiuc.edu/msp/CurrentStudents.asp

Not sure if there are students who have done theoretical physics, but there is a lot of biophysics and applied engineering PhD candidates in the program.

Plus, the basketball team is #1 in the country.
 

Neuronix

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mercaptovizadeh said:
but what about a PhD in say, theoretical physics (particles, gravitation, etc. i.e . NOT medical physics or biophysics) or mathematics? Both these disciplines require rigorous logical thinking and application but lack the hands on character of biology or chemistry, and, of course, do not acquaint one with the standard biomedical experimental techniques or troubleshooting.
This question has been asked several times in the past, specifically about more hardcore math/physics. It comes down to at most schools that the biophysics or bioengineering departments are just better integrated into the MSTP and it benefits you for graduation time and support to go with the flow. Now, that's not to say you can't take plenty of classes in theoretical physics and high math from the Bioengineering department here. In fact, the student chair of that department here is a theoretical physicist and would be happy to have you doing that sort of thing. I would talk this over with any schools you're considering, but I wouldn't say that schools aren't open to it.

As for doing that AND getting molecular training, that might be more difficult. I mean, you could probably make something work, but at what graduation time? It's a question I've asked myself, and I'm not sure how I'm going to pull it off in my own PhD as I'm leaning towards an imaging thesis but I don't want to divorce myself from molecular research. No answers for you on that one :)
 

fantasty

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Neuronix said:
... It comes down to at most schools that the biophysics or bioengineering departments are just better integrated into the MSTP and it benefits you for graduation time and support to go with the flow. ...
That's a really good point. It's not always that the MSTP isn't interested in letting you study in your intended field, but you have to consider the graduate department as well. Generally, graduate departments that have worked with MSTP students in the past, and who have a plan about how dept requirements (such as coursework, teaching requirements, number of lab rotations) should be adjusted for MSTP students, result in a smooth and timely progression.
 
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mercaptovizadeh

mercaptovizadeh

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In other words, your saying that MSTP is not necessarily a back door for non biomedical disciplines, that getting into a physics department might require taking the physics GRE or an entrance exam (or may not be possible at all)?
 

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mercaptovizadeh said:
what about a PhD in say, theoretical physics (particles, gravitation, etc. i.e . NOT medical physics or biophysics) or mathematics?
In addition to the Chicago suggestion, I would look into the pittsburgh-carnegie mellon MSTP. I remember one of my interviewers at the Pitt-CMU program saying they were open to PhDs in things like physics and math.
 

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mercaptovizadeh said:
In other words, your saying that MSTP is not necessarily a back door for non biomedical disciplines, that getting into a physics department might require taking the physics GRE or an entrance exam (or may not be possible at all)?
I wouldn't say that MSTPs are not willing to work with students interested in non-traditional graduate trainings. I think they just want to know what you are going to bring to the table. For example . . .

Engineering: You can build the box, and then think outside of it.
English: You have a grasp of the language, and can write probably better than most.
French Literature: You can work in Canada.
Chemistry: You can dream in terms of chemical kinetics.

BUT,
Theoretical Physics: You are a nerd

See, how can you incorporate this into the aim of a MSTP? "The purpose of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is to train individuals who can understand and contribute to advances in research, and can also apply those advances to the field of medical care. The combination of clinical training leading to the M.D. degree with research training leading to the Ph.D. degree is a way to educate scientists who can apply laboratory results to the problems of clinical medicine." [stolen from UCI's website]

I am not saying that the study of higher level physics is not a worthy quest. In fact, the area of science that interests me the most is particle physics. It just does not fit very well into the above description. However, the incorporation of physical concepts is very useful in many of the current medical advances (i.e., imaging, devices).

Just my opinion, which is always open to interpetation.