Dual MD-MSCR Student/Portal Program
PORTAL is a strongly mentored, 5 year program for medical students designed accelerate the process through which discoveries made in the laboratory are brought to the patient’s bedside. The program offers a multidisciplinary approach to clinical investigation training in order to introduce students to the field of clinical/translational research and how it drives the practice of clinical medicine. Participants will be part of a select group of scholars that integrate learning clinical medicine with how to establish a career in clinical investigation from the very start of their medical education. Teaching medical students how to conduct high quality clinical research studies may produce better, more successful, and more satisfied clinical investigators to the benefit of both the students and society. Students who successfully complete the program will be awarded an MD and a Masters in Clinical Research (MSCR).
PORTAL students start training during year 1 of medical school and continue their development through their careers. Course work is taken during years 1 and 2, the Scholarly Year, and the final year of medical school. Most of the thesis work is done during the Scholarly Year. Information on coursework for PORTAL can be found at the program website. Please refer to the Curriculum Guide for descriptive information on individual courses offered during a specific terms. The curriculum offers rigorous didactic and hands on research training in clinical research methodology, including clinical trial and experimental design, data management, data analysis, research communication skills, e.g., abstract, manuscript, and grant writing, along with oral presentation skills, and how to navigate regulatory requirements. Regular, informal sessions will also be scheduled to allow PORTAL students to meet successful clinical researchers in order to learn about their career paths, as well as to permit students to discuss issues of common interest with each other.
Research and Mentoring
The multiyear commitment to excellence by the student is made possible by strong faculty support, as well as institutional resources. Outstanding faculty members from diverse departments serve as mentors. Students will identify their area of research interest and be matched with an experienced, supportive clinical research mentor. In many cases, students will choose two mentors who represent different, though complementary disciplines, enabling them to have a more interdisciplinary experience.
During the course of the PORTAL program, students will have the opportunity to participate in an ongoing research project, as well as carry out an original research project in an area of their choice. Their original research will form the basis for a thesis. Thesis work will be guided by the faculty mentor and the program directors. Time for research is built into the program during the following periods and include, minimally,
- 8 weeks during the summer following the first year
- An 11 month Scholarly Year, following year 3 of medical school
- The 12 week INSPIRE program, during the final year of medical school
- Additional time may be arranged during elective periods on an individual basis
Students selected for PORTAL will receive full scholarships to cover the tuition of the MSCR degree. Participants also will receive a stipend during their Scholarly Year to cover living expenses, including health insurance. There is no medical school tuition during the Scholarly Year.
Applying to the PORTAL Program
Students apply to PORTAL at the same time they apply to the MD program. They will submit a brief supplemental application form that allows them to more fully describe their specific reasons for applying to the Mount Sinai MD/MSCR program. In addition to meeting the requirements for admission to the MD program, the applicant must have had research experience, preferably clinical research. Selected applicants will be interviewed.
PORTAL Thesis Procedure
Successful completion of the MSCR program involves submission of a thesis that is approved by the student’s thesis committee. It is expected that the bulk of the thesis work will be done during the student’s Scholarly Year. Thesis research will earn 9 credits.
Oversight of the student’s progress and thesis research will be the responsibility of the thesis committee consisting of the student’s mentor plus two additional faculty members. The latter will serve as advisors, as well as have the responsibility of approving the thesis. The student may suggest the names of faculty members they think would qualify as committee members, based upon their area of expertise, but the ultimate decision will be that of the MSCR Program Directors.
PORTAL students must complete the existing MSCR approval process, although the timetable, reflected below, is modified. In order for the student to receive his/her degree along with the MD at the May graduation, please submit the following documentation:
- The Research Agreement Form, see Appendix A, including an outline of the proposed thesis topic (maximum of 3 pages), by September 15th of Scholarly year.
- The first draft of thesis by January 15th of M4*. The thesis must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Depositing Your Master’s Thesis form,see Appendix A. The student’s thesis committee will review the draft and return to the student with any comments and recommendations no later than 4 weeks after receipt of the draft.
o Please note that a student may submit, for their Master’s Thesis, a first author manuscript either submitted for publication, accepted for publication or published during their training which is reflective of their Master’s Thesis work. In this instance, a statement of purpose, introduction, and discussion regarding the findings and impact of the work needs to be added.
- The final thesis for review by March 15th of M4.
- The Master’s Thesis Approval Form, See Appendix A. Once a student has completed the Master’s Thesis, he/she must complete a Master’s Thesis Approval form, which is signed by the thesis advisor and Program Director and submitted to the Program office.
- The Master’s Thesis Evaluation report, see Appendix A, by March 15th of M4.
- The thesis to the library by April 15th of M4.
*M4 refers to the final year of medical school and follows the Scholarly Year.