Cliff Harding picture
(216) 368-3611

Cliff Harding, Director

Welcome! I am proud to represent our MSTP, which provides an outstanding opportunity for students to obtain combined MD/PhD training and launch careers as physician- scientists. I will introduce the program here, but the rest of our website provides much additional information.

CWRU has offered MD/PhD training since 1956 for students aspiring to dual careers in academic medicine and biomedical research. This program was among the first to be awarded NIH funding and carry the designation Medical Scientist Training Program over 30 years ago. Thus, we have a long and distinguished commitment to offering our trainees the best educational experience possible.

Our program allows students to participate fully in the curricula of the medical and graduate schools. Students start with the curriculum of the first two years of medical school plus additional activities that are specific to the MSTP. Research rotations are pursued during the summers prior to the first and second years of medical school. The unique medical curriculum at CWRU includes flexible afternoon time, which allows MSTP to take graduate school courses or pursue more research rotations, allowing them to develop their scientific interests in synchrony with the medical curriculum. The PhD thesis phase, lasting 3-4 years, involves additional coursework, intensive research, submission of research publications and successful preparation and defense of the PhD thesis. The unique MSTP clinical tutorial integrates clinical training into the PhD phase. Students then enter the core clinical clerkships of the third year medical curriculum and complete the program with clinical or research electives. During the entire program, students receive full financial support for tuition, health service fees, computer fees and stipend ($25,000/year).

We are proud of our record of success in launching careers of our students in biomedical research. Within the program, our students make substantial discoveries in biomedical science and publish multiple papers in scientific journals. Upon graduation, our students are highly successful in obtaining their choice of residency applications, and the residency programs they enter are among the most prestigious and competitive in the country. In the long run our students are highly successful. Most attain faculty positions in clinical or basic science departments at medical schools or equivalent positions at the NIH or research foundations. Others attain leadership positions in research for biotechnology, pharmaceutical or other biomedical companies. The alumni of our MD/PhD program include two Nobel Prize laureates, Alfred Gilman and Ferid Murad, the U.S. Surgeon General and former head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), David Satcher, and many other highly accomplished physician-scientists.

The success of our program has been shaped by a number of factors. Our MSTP is student-centered and involves significant student input into program planning, development and implementation. The talent and commitment of our students is the major driving force to make this a very exciting community. As a group, our students establish a wonderful camaraderie that extends throughout the program. At the same time, our faculty are enthusiastically involved. The Steering Committee is an important advisory body for both the Director and the students, and its members participate actively in MSTP events. We have over 120 scientific mentors, and those who are currently mentoring Ph.D. phase students are especially involved in the program.

Students are involved in significant leadership roles (e.g. the MSTP Council) and in program governance and operation. With the students, we have developed enhancements to our MSTP that are designed to endow students with skills for pursuing a lifetime of learning and to foster their professional and personal development. We have created an atmosphere where students and faculty work and learn together as colleagues. We pursue our education, science, and clinical training seriously, but at the same time we endeavor to enjoy the journey and treasure the relationships that spring naturally from this student-faculty partnership. These aspects of the program and other specifics should be further explained as you explore the rest of this website.