History of MD-PhD Training at Case Western Reserve University

The MSTP Era (1975-present)

The MSTP era began in 1975 when this institution received its first 5-year training grant under the leadership of Cecil Cooper (Biochemistry) and William Schuster (Microbiology). Improvements that were added in the late 1970s included 1) A centralized MSTP office with a Director and Steering Committee empowered to make virtually all decisions regarding the Program. 2) Institution of higher program expectations and admission standards. 3) Approval of faculty thesis advisors and individual PhD training programs by the MSTP Steering Committee. 4) Expanded opportunities for interdisciplinary PhD training. 5) Improved integration of various PhD and MD training components. Leslie Webster, Jr., Chair of Pharmacology, became MSTP Director in this year and instituted many of these changes. The size of the program and NIH funding grew in the 1980s and 1990s. Following Dr. Webster, Directors of the MSTP included Steve Younkin, John Nilson and Clifford Harding (2001-present).

In 2006 the CWRU MD curriculum was revised to improve integration of topics, employ modern problem-based learning techniques and reintroduce an MD research thesis requirement. While the basic character of physician scientist MD-PhD training continues to include long-established strengths, with strong research and clinical training that includes integration of graduate school into the MD curriculum and clinical electives into the PhD phase, the CWRU MSTP has evolved with changes in our MD curriculum. Students now enter the PhD phase in March of year 2, four months earlier than in the past, and there is increased flexibility in their clinical curriculum and the timing for the start of the third year medical curriculum. The program now includes 90-100 students with a typical entering class size of 11-15 students. In recent years, the program has expanded with the addition of the CWRU CTSTP (Clinical and Translational Scientist Training Program) that expands the opportunities for students to pursue research interests in epidemiology, biostatistics, biomedical engineering, and systems biology.

(Prepared by Cliff Harding from notes by Leslie T. Webster, Jr.)

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