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top mstp programs

MilesDavisTheDoctor

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Is there a generally accepted view of what the top mstp programs are? I'm a regular MD student who doesn't really know much about how to evaluate mstp programs. Are the "top 20" or so MD and mstp programs pretty much the same? Ie are Harvard, Hopkins, Penn, NYU etc... considered T10 programs?
 

inode

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Why do you want to "evaluate" MSTP programs?

But in answer to your question, I'll just go with a "general" yes. If you want to split hairs (e.g. say school X is ranked #7 for MD but should be #4 for MSTP), I don't think it's a very useful exercise.
 
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Gee I'd flag NYU as an outlier. They had always been a mid ranked school with a more limited research capacity and less federal funding than the other schools listed by the OP, which are research behemoths.

After NYU waived tuition for their med school two years ago, they shot to the top of the selectivity pile for straight MD. So their MD students are now much stronger. But that didn't suddenly change their research capacity, and MSTP was always free so less of a draw for that applicant subgroup.
 
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MilesDavisTheDoctor

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Isn't NYUs research funding like #11 or so and like #3 for NIH funding/(# of faculty)? It was my understanding that over the last 10 years their research capacity had increased dramatically.
 
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Lucca

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Isn't NYUs research funding like #11 or so and like #3 for NIH funding/(# of faculty)? It was my understanding that over the last 10 years their research capacity had increased dramatically.

they have. It’s one of those self fulfilling prophecies for research. After Hurricane Sandy the NYU med center sustained a lot of damage. They got a really big check from the government to rebuild and that started shooting them up the ranks. As they rose that attracted more donor money. They build fancy new buildings and I think greatly increase their research faculty number, get more grant money. However, in terms of total NIH funding, NYU is still 25, with 100 million dollars across 219 awards in 2019. All of the T10 institutions by NIH funding alone have at least DOUBLE that across 360-520 awards, Hopkins had nearly triple and Harvard as well if you combine just HMS/Brigham/MGH. There are other details like public vs private, per capita vs bulk.


^ lot of data to play around with there

but ya mostly an academic exercise. To get at the OP, for the applicant any program with MSTP funding and designation is going to have a proven track record of success and not all MD/PhD programs have that so I would consider that set of ~40 programs to be the "top" MD/PhD programs. If you want to get granular for the sake of it, then I think you would have to create some kind of hybrid ranking that accounts for the NIH funding of individual departments across a variety of disciplines and find which program has generally the most funding across the most disciplines. If you did that, however, I dont think it would look too different from USNWR, although places like NYU would probably go down a bit and places like Michigan, Wisconsin would likely go up.
 
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MilesDavisTheDoctor

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they have. It’s one of those self fulfilling prophecies for research. After Hurricane Sandy the NYU med center sustained a lot of damage. They got a really big check from the government to rebuild and that started shooting them up the ranks. As they rose that attracted more donor money. They build fancy new buildings and I think greatly increase their research faculty number, get more grant money. However, in terms of total NIH funding, NYU is still 25, with 100 million dollars across 219 awards in 2019. All of the T10 institutions by NIH funding alone have at least DOUBLE that across 360-520 awards, Hopkins had nearly triple and Harvard as well if you combine just HMS/Brigham/MGH. There are other details like public vs private, per capita vs bulk.


^ lot of data to play around with there

but ya mostly an academic exercise. To get at the OP, for the applicant any program with MSTP funding and designation is going to have a proven track record of success and not all MD/PhD programs have that so I would consider that set of ~40 programs to be the "top" MD/PhD programs. If you want to get granular for the sake of it, then I think you would have to create some kind of hybrid ranking that accounts for the NIH funding of individual departments across a variety of disciplines and find which program has generally the most funding across the most disciplines. If you did that, however, I dont think it would look too different from USNWR, although places like NYU would probably go down a bit and places like Michigan, Wisconsin would likely go up.
Thanks for the informative post. It seems like nyu is a little higher on this research funding list but maybe it includes private as well as big funds, and I agree with pretty much everything you said

 

Fencer

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There are other examples, where institutions are satellite independent research institutes to their affiliated medical school, but their research faculty are MSTP mentors:
  • Weil Cornell + Sloan Kettering + Rockefeller = Tri-I
  • UT Houston + MD Anderson
  • UT Health San Antonio + Texas Biomed Institute
  • Stony Brook + Cold Spring Harbor
This NIH website is currently down, but you are able to see funding by institution. The USNews list is reported by the institutions... and not truly accurate. Some schools have been downgraded after discovery of such inaccurate data, others have been able to keep twisting the edges...
 
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Lucca

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Thanks for the informative post. It seems like nyu is a little higher on this research funding list but maybe it includes private as well as big funds, and I agree with pretty much everything you said


ya it fluctuates a bit depending on how you measure funding! To indulge in the meaningless academic exercise, I remember someone had done this previously by using the life science PhD ranking on USNWR and making a weighted average of the PD, USNWR Med School, and USNWR Bioscience research ranking for the t20 or so schools. Again, basically meaningless especially once you look at how similar match lists are for programs at the top and near the bottom of this list. But, by this measure accounting for various ranks, NYU comes out at the bottom of the t20 due to its lower bioscience ranking. This proxy for "research reputation" might explain comments about NYU still being a "mid-tier" program.


SchoolResearch RatingPrimary Care RatingTotal ScorePD RankUSNWR RankBioscience RankingAverage Rank
Harvard4.64.38.94.001.002.002.33
Stanford4.54.38.85.003.001.003.00
Hopkins4.64.492.002.006.003.33
UCSF4.64.69.21.005.006.004.00
Penn4.64.492.003.0023.009.33
WashU4.54.28.77.008.0013.009.33
Columbia4.44.18.59.006.0018.0011.00
Duke4.34.18.410.0013.0010.0011.00
Yale4.24.18.314.0013.006.0011.00
UCLA4.34.18.410.006.0018.0011.33
Cornell4.248.216.009.0010.0011.67
UWash4.24.58.77.0012.0023.0014.00
Michigan4.44.48.85.0016.0023.0014.67
Chicago4.148.119.0016.0013.0016.00
Mayo4.24.18.314.009.0027.0016.67
Vanderbilt4.24.28.410.0016.0027.0017.67
Northwestern4.14.18.216.0019.0027.0020.67
Pitt4.34.18.410.0013.0046.0023.00
UNC44.28.216.0023.0033.0024.00
NYU4.148.119.009.0062.0030.00
 
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Patros

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In my opinion, looking at raw NIH funding is a pointless endeavor. It doesn't give an idea of the things that matter, like how much support and guidance the administration provides, or how good the outcomes are for the graduates.

I have always looked at the relative size of each entering class as an adjunct for a program's quality. At the very least, that tells us how positively the NIH views that institution's training grant, and how much funding that institution invests into its MSTP. I think the largest programs are the WashU and UPenn MSTPs at ~25 students per year, and I think it's fair to say they are among the best. In contrast, fancy-pants places like Columbia and UCSF have much smaller programs at ~12-15 students per year, so that doesn't jive well with their relative rankings on the USNWR. This suggests to me that the USNWR rankings are not so useful for evaluating MSTPs.

I guess you could also look at outcomes (like % of graduates with faculty appointments or something?) but I don't know if anyone has published data comparing institutions like that.
 

navy kenzo

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I have always looked at the relative size of each entering class as an adjunct for a program's quality. At the very least, that tells us how positively the NIH views that institution's training grant, and how much funding that institution invests into its MSTP. I think the largest programs are the WashU and UPenn MSTPs at ~25 students per year, and I think it's fair to say they are among the best. In contrast, fancy-pants places like Columbia and UCSF have much smaller programs at ~12-15 students per year, so that doesn't jive well with their relative rankings on the USNWR. This suggests to me that the USNWR rankings are not so useful for evaluating MSTPs.

Just popping in to say this is a bad metric. The NIH doesn’t fund all 25 spots at large programs like Penn/WashU, maybe only half, with the other half funded by the medical school itself. Also, the NIH is trying to redistribute MSTP funds by cutting spots from larger, better-funded programs and giving them to smaller programs. You can assume, however, that larger programs generally have more institutional support/infrastructure than smaller ones.
 
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Lucca

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In my opinion, looking at raw NIH funding is a pointless endeavor. It doesn't give an idea of the things that matter, like how much support and guidance the administration provides, or how good the outcomes are for the graduates.

I have always looked at the relative size of each entering class as an adjunct for a program's quality. At the very least, that tells us how positively the NIH views that institution's training grant, and how much funding that institution invests into its MSTP. I think the largest programs are the WashU and UPenn MSTPs at ~25 students per year, and I think it's fair to say they are among the best. In contrast, fancy-pants places like Columbia and UCSF have much smaller programs at ~12-15 students per year, so that doesn't jive well with their relative rankings on the USNWR. This suggests to me that the USNWR rankings are not so useful for evaluating MSTPs.

I guess you could also look at outcomes (like % of graduates with faculty appointments or something?) but I don't know if anyone has published data comparing institutions like that.

while I see where this is coming from it doesn’t make much sense. The size of the incoming class is basically just an accounting calculation done by the program admin.

Harvard-MIT and Stanford are both ~10 fully funded spots in the incoming class. But they graduate nearly twice that in MD/PhDs every year. Why? Internal transfers and affiliation. Both could 1 billion percent double the size of the program overnight if they we’re seriously committed to it by committing more institutional funds. However, they don’t need to in order to attract top talent historically so they why invest the extra ~250K into 2X more people? So if you have resources to support 15-20 but know you can get 5-10 more without paying for first 2 years, It’s literally saving them 2-3 M dollars a year in waived tuition and stipend.

in my class we had ~10 ppl turn down MSTPs elsewhere, even top ones, to come here MD only.

I also imagine the size of the med school class overall plays a factor
 
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I do think the raw class size is relevant to program quality, regardless of where the funding for those slots comes from, as long as some of them are MSTP funded.
At smaller programs, even highly ranked ones, there's a little bit of having to forge your own path, and as a small minority compared to the straight-MD and straight-PhD classes, there's not a lot of voice or power for getting niche needs met. I think the bigger programs may have more of a strength-in-numbers advantage in terms of advocating for themselves and getting guidance that's appropriate to their needs.
 
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sluox

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Thinking in terms of career progression based on NIH grants, the difference between Vanderbilt and Harvard is fairly minimal. It's also becoming clearer to everyone that a 100% soft money spot at a "Harvard affiliate" vs. classic 80/20 tenure track job at Vanderbilt, the latter prevails. It's not necessarily advantageous to go to Harvard MSTP if you are aiming for the latter.

In very pure basic science work, especially if the field is small, name matters more. In order to become a tenured basic science faculty at a top 10 program, having R01s in and of itself is not enough. As someone I was talking to recently, even after you are at an assistant professor level, you have to "sidle up" to the power that might be in the field.

In translational work, in general I find the environment more corporate and less clubby, which is surprisingly nice and refreshing.
 
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