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LOR from lab faculty

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by tiedyeddog, May 30, 2008.

  1. 194342

    194342 Physician 7+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    I am seeking some advice about letters of recommendation. It seems msny MSTP and MD/PhD programs require atleast two different letters from people who can attest to your lab experience. I know in some big labs, multiple PhDs or PhD/MD's might be in a lab. However, I volunteer in a small lab. My PI is a PHd and she is going to write a LOR for me but is a LOR from a graduate student in my lab or a post-doc acceptable?

    If a post-doc/grad student LOR is unacceptable, should I plan on working in a different lab in order to get another letter from a PI? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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  3. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2002
    the beach
    If you've only worked in one lab (I hope for a significant amount of time) one letter is acceptable. You may have to ask special permission or clarify this with programs that strongly state it. Programs really only want letters from your PI with rare exceptions.
  4. ecoli

    ecoli 2+ Year Member

    Jun 9, 2008
    I worked pretty closely with a grad student who is now a post-doc at another university.

    I figured that the pre-health committee can use it when writing their mega-letter of rec, and that they don't have to actually send it to the schools. I mean, it probably can't hurt to get, even if you don't wind up sending it out.

    I've worked in lots of labs in high school, but none I'd really want LORs from. I've had the same PI for four years now, so obviously he knows me really well. I figure one really good LOR is better then a few blah ones.

    And even in my other labs, my PIs haven't been very great, kind of leaving me unsupervised, not really caring if I did anything useful (big surprise that I didn't). Another lab I worked at was in Israel, a short summer program (only 3 weeks of actual research) and the PI was on sabbatical at the time. We actually found something interesting, but I didn't even meet the PI, so what's the point of trying to get a LOR?

    I hope they do accept the letter from the grad student (now post-doc) because he's probably one of the most influential people on my research and in my life in general.
  5. maliciousdoc

    maliciousdoc 2+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2008
    advice for you:

    1. LOR from gradstudent/postdoc does not count, unless PI verifies and signs it.
    2. Before working in a lab for LOR, explain to the PI that LOR is what you would like to get and ask them what would it take to get a good LOR. Let them know this ahead of time. If you F up during your lab work, the will let you know abou it.
    3. Work hard, and get publication, that way it will speaks for itself.
  6. anemone2

    anemone2 2+ Year Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    I applied with only 1 rec letter from a PI (worked in his lab for 3+ years) and so far it hasn't been a problem anywhere. Some programs will technically ask for 2/3 people who are familiar with your research and can comment on your ability to think like a scientist (or something like that), but even for those programs I just had a letter from my PI and 2 science faculty members who knew me pretty well from small seminar/journal club-type classes, but weren't all that familiar with the specifics of my work. Again, schools didn't seem to mind. Just make sure your other recommendors know you're applying MD/PhD and don't write a straight med school letter without commenting on your aptitude as a researcher. Then again, I'm not sure if adcoms even cared about these letters or if they only "counted" the one from my PI...
  7. themudphud

    themudphud 2+ Year Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    I agree with everyone else.
    Been a few years since I went through the process but if you have spent a substantial period of time in that one lab, then that should be enough. I would rather have one letter from a PI that's known you for, say 3-4 years versus two letter from PIs who each worked with you for a summer.
    It would be horribly wrong if you got dinged for that.
    In any case, I don't know how much time you have to go and find another lab in which to work long enough for a decent letter. I guess you should contact the programs just to be sure but I wouldn't mess around in another lab until you know for a fact that you have to.

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