what are my chances (read sticky, still don't know)

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Apr 27, 2014
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update: ACCEPTED!

I read the sticky and have an "excellent" GPA and MCAT, but my research is iffy. Here are my stats so far:

Background: middle class white male
Year: junior (almost senior, applying in June) at a top 50 large public university
Majors: Physics and Biochemistry.
GPA: 4.00 (118 hours taken at this university at end of this semester)
MCAT: 41 with a breakdown for P/V/B of 14/13/14

-200+ hours of medical volunteering with significant patient interaction for 3 years
-100+ hours of non medical community volunteering for 1 year
-100+ hours of shadowing multiple doctors over the years. Consistent during the summer.
-A leader in a church for two years, very time intensive and I have done a lot with this club.
-I have been a TA for 4 classes and have had significant teaching experiences
-Have been involved in many other clubs and activities, and have been on medical mission trips
-Won multiple awards/scholarships from essay writing. Mostly about books I've read.

Now for my research. I had been desperately looking for research since I was a first semester freshman. I was constantly identifying professors in basic science fields, reading their research and then sending emails with my resume etc. Every email listing a research opportunity I responded to and applied for etc. After having emailed around 40 professors and interviewed for multiple things and still not having a research position, I became even more desperate. I started just walking into professors offices if they didn't respond to my emails and then asking them in person. After doing this about 15 times I finally got a research position in protein research in biochemistry at the end of my sophomore year. I have worked very hard at this position and will have a strong letter of rec from my professor in this, but I will only have 1 year of research at the time of applying.

My research has been very independent though. I am not supervised by anyone and have had to design my own protein expression scheme, learn multiple types of spectroscopy to study the protein, learn how to program so that I could write data analysis programs (other people in my group now use these programs) and have generally been pretty productive. Additionally, I have trained a grad student and two post docs on how to purify proteins, do pcr, develop mutagenic primers, do spectroscopy etc. I will hopefully have a first author publication at the end of summer, but I want to apply in June.

Know that I have always been strongly interested in medicine and basic science and that is the reason I want to even pursue an MD/PhD, but I would rather be an MD versus not having an MD/PhD acceptance anywhere. So I am wondering whether it is even worth applying to MD/PhD programs with my current situation and being at a disadvantage for the MD only application.

TLDR: I have really good numbers and pretty decent volunteering etc. But my research, while productive, I have only done for 1 year. Should I even bother applying to MD/PhD programs or just stick to MD programs?

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How do you know you want a career in research? Be able to answer that question. Your lack of research can be a red flag-- do you really know what it's like conducting research (especially the inevitable failures it entails) after only one year? Also, congrats on amazing numbers!!!!
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The arms race has gotten worse since I did this, but I had my share of highly competitive MD-PhD interviews with less research than that. I think lack of research experience hurt me on getting from interview to acceptance, but so did having only the vaguest clue of how medicine works and being a generally mediocre interviewee. I still did fine overall.

You'll get interviews on your numbers alone, and then all you have to do is explain how independent and productive you've been in lab. As long as your professor's letter backs up your account, I don't think you'll be hurt by "lack" of experience or not having a publication in the bag. You'll have to answer the "Why MD-PhD?" question just like everyone else, but I don't see why a committee would find fault with your experience as long as your answer makes sense. You could have experience dating back to high school, and it wouldn't balance out a poor answer for why you want both. I think it works the other way too, as long as there's some substantial experience to work with.
I applied the summer after junior year with only slightly more research than you (started halfway through sophomore year) and lower stats, and I still had a good number of interviews and multiple acceptances. I don't think any of my interviewers ever said anything about my research experience not being substantial. Like the others said, as long as you've been productive and can intelligently discuss the project(s) you've worked on, I think you should be fine.
Try and do more research this summer or next academic year while you are applying/interviewing. If your project is interesting, you are involved and you know it well the quality of your experience will trump quantity. Be able to speak intelligently about your work and science in general. Know the background, the techniques and the future directions. You should apply to both MD and MD/PhD programs and apply broadly just to keep options open.

Your stats are impressive. We get people with your stats at our program, and personally, once the student already has a high GPA/MCAT, I don't care whether its 3.80 or 4.00, or whether its a 36 or 40 MCAT. Once the grades are pretty excellent, I look to see if the applicants understand science and has the personality and track record that will make them effective in the lab and a future physician-scientist.

I think you'll do fine.
Just an update:

I got accepted to an MD/PhD program! I also have been to 6 MD/PhD interviews with 2 more to go and have only heard from the one I got accepted to so far (which I actually think I will end up going to, is my undergrad school). So to everyone reading: don't give up if you are intimidated by not having as much research experience as you would like. There is a good chance you can succeed!