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Graduate students on graduation day

M.D./Ph.D. Program

Mission: Train the future generation of physician-scientists and leaders in academic medicine.

Funding: The MUSC MSTP is funded in part by a training grant from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences, the Colleges of Medicine and Graduate Studies and numerous scholarships. Trainees receive a stipend of $28,500 a year and tuition, fees and health insurance are paid for. This financial package allows the students to have a comfortable lifestyle in Charleston. The College of Graduate Studies provides a $1,500 bonus for each year that a trainee receives a NIH NRSA fellowship. The MUSC MSTP was ranked third in the nation, per capita for obtaining the highly competitive NIH NRSA individual fellowships.

Commitment to the trainees: We are committed to maintaining the highest standards for both the PhD and MD degrees. Our program provides a collegial and nurturing environment in which each student’s intellectual and personal potential is nurtured, encouraged and challenged. This ensures that our trainees achieve their full potential. Upon completion of their training, our students go on to the highest quality internships, residency training programs and post-doctoral research fellowships followed by outstanding career positions.

Program of study: The MSTP offers maximum flexibility and guidance for the student to select a mentor and training experience. There are also several mechanisms available that allow the trainee to get a significant exposure to clinical and translational research during the graduate years in addition to time in medical school. They include but are not limited to the Translational Sciences Clinic (during graduate years), Translational Medicine Seminar Series and a Month in the Research Nexus (during senior year) and the CARES Clinic, an evening clinic serving the medically indigent. Our students publish their research in top tier journals and receive numerous honors and awards for their research.

Nancy Klauber DeMore, M.D., FACS
Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
Professor of Surgery
BMW Endowed Chair in Cancer Research
Medical Director, MUSC Breast Program
Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship Department of Surgery

Donald Menick, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
Director, MCBP Program
Professor of Medicine
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

MD/PhD Student Wins Prestigious Lasker Foundation Essay Contest

David HartmannCongratulations to MSTP student David Hartmann, who was just awarded First Place in the Lasker Foundation Essay Contest. The foundation asked young scientists to answer the question, "How can social media help build trust in science and the research enterprise?" Hartmann's essay won this year's competition among entries from more than 30 countries. See the link below for more on the competition and his essay.

Lasker Essay Competition

Welcome New Students!

Tyler Beck-Ohio State
Jordan Carter-College of Charleston
Reda Chalhoub-American University of Beirut
Paul Culver-The Citadel
Stephanie Dilucia-Northeastern
Jordan Morningstar-University of Michigan
Joe Mouawad-American University of Beirut
Nathaniel Oberholtzer-University of Virginia
Jessica Zielinski-Clemson

About the Medical Scientist Training Program

The MST program is designed to be flexible, challenging and rewarding. The course of study is specially tailored to meet the particular needs and research interests of the individual student. The student's graduate advisory committee approves their curriculum design. The curriculum sequence is coordinated to include basic science and clinical rotations in medical school, plus graduate education and sufficient time to conduct a significant research project leading to the Ph.D.

Our program encourages students to enroll during the summer before the first year of matriculation into medical school in order to conduct a meaningful research experience. Although maximum flexibility with respect to curriculum design is encouraged, the average time to complete the program is 8 years. For most students the program is structured as follows, however, it is very flexible and can be changed to suit the trainee's needs.

MSTP Brochure 2018 (PDF)

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 MSTP Seminar Schedule (PDF)

Medicine, First & Second Years

The first 18 months of the program follow the newly implemented integrated flex medical curriculum. Students spend the summers before their first year familiarizing themselves with research laboratories at MUSC. They complete the second year of medical school with their entering class. The National Board Examination Step I is taken in early Spring of the second year. After completing the NBME Step I Exam, the students begin a second lab rotation.
Flex Curriculum

Graduate Studies, Years Three and Beyond

After completing a second lab rotation, students may either take a third rotation or choose their lab and pursue graduate studies leading to a Ph.D. degree. During this period of time, students should complete all of the research and scientific work necessary for a dissertation. Research training leading to a Ph.D. degree can be pursued in the following departments or programs, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Cell Injury and Repair; Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences; Gene Medicine; Lipidomics; Microbiology and Immunology; Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology; Neurosciences; Pathology; Proteomics; Public Health Sciences; Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology; and Structural Biology.
MSTP students take selected sections of the core curriculum offered to first year graduate students. These are both required sections and elective sections, the later chosen in consulation with the graduate coordinator and mentor. The courses cover broad topics dealing with professional development, techniques of rigorous experimental design, learning from the literature, entrepreneurship, responsible conduct of research, and principles of grant writing.

The MST Program Steering Committee requires that all laboratory research necessary for completion of the Ph.D. degree be finished and the Dissertation either defended or ready for defending before the student resumes the third year of Medical School. The Program requires that the Dissertation be defended by the end of the calendar year.

The MSTP Progress Committee evaluates individual performance after each semester of study during the first two years and then annually thereafter.

Translational Sciences Clinic

The goal of this requirement is for MSTP students to learn how to better integrate the basic sciences and their area of research interest with a meaningful clinical/translational experience. The students are expected to discuss the patient's problems from a literature/research perspective. They will work in a clinic, one-half day a week with an extramurally funded clinician-scientist who is chosen based on his/her demonstrated commitment to research. All MSTP students are required to register for two (2) semesters of this clinic. It is suggested that the student participate in the clinic during their second or third year of graduate school. The student receives 2 weeks of junior selective credit for the 2 semesters. The mentors for this elective could help the students with a potential clinical study that may evolve from their basic science project.

Medicine, Year Three

The third year of medical school provides the basic clinical experiences in the major medical disciplines. Students rotate through clinical clerkships in internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine, neurology rehabilatation and psychiatry. There are also three-week selective rotations that allow students to explore subspeciality areas.

Medicine, Year Four

The final year of medical school consists of completion of the clinical requirements and electives that permit the student to further develop individual interests. Four-week subinternships are required for medicine and surgery. Electives last four to eight weeks. During the senior year, MSTP students apply for desirable internships at outstanding medical universities. Time is available for students to travel to the institutions for interviews.

MSTP Activities and Events

Throughout each MSTP student's academic career, MUSC provides a wide range of structured and informal activities to promote close relationships with faculty members and fellow students.

MSTP Seminar Series

The MSTP has a monthly Monday night seminar series that is held at 4:00pm and dinner is served. Faculty are invited to present their research, which provides the students with an overview of some of the research opportunities on campus. Often the presenters are new faculty on the campus. During the later part of the Spring semester, students preparing to defend their dissertation rehearse in front of their peers and the Program Director and Associate Program Director. This is a valuable experience for the students since, for the presenter, it gives them an opportunity to rehearse their presentation and get valuable feedback. It is also an opportunity for those students who are early in their training to find out about other research experiences. In several cases, a student listening to the presentation has decided to continue the work in the presenter's laboratory.

CARES Clinic

The CARES clinic is a medically indigent evening clinic staffed by MUSC physicians. MSTP students attend the clinic a minimum of twice a year. This is done during their graduate years and helps them to maintain their clinical skills. This is a highly rewarding experience and the students uniformly enjoy the experience.

Translational Medicine Seminars

A senior student presents a clinical case in a disease area in which they are interested. The case presentation lasts roughly 5 to 10 minutes. After that, a physician-scientist discusses the case from a clinical and research perspective. Students get a chance to see the case discussed from a more scientific approach compared to what they might see on the wards or in the clinics. They are able to see how one can bring science to bear on the understanding of pathophysiologic processes and the development of new therapeutic approaches.

A Month in the Research Nexus Presentations

The senior students present the clinical/translational research grant (R21) that they developed during their month in the Research Nexus. The grant has a basic science underpinning for the clinical study.

Month in the Research Nexus

Senior Panel

One evening after Match Day is devoted to the senior students talking about their experiences looking for internship and residency positions. There are a series of FAQ's that are discussed.

MSTP Annual Student Research Day

This annual event is held in the Fall to give MSTP students an opportunity to learn about their colleagues' research. During the morning, students present their research in either a poster or oral format. The morning session is followed by a keynote seminar given by a previous graduate of the program. The afternoon is devoted to a business meeting, discussion groups and a team building exercise. The day is concluded with an informal dinner. This annual event is attended by all the MSTP students, mentors, selected faculty, department chairpersons and guests.

MUSC Student Research Day Competition

The campus wide student research day is held annually in November. Oral and poster presentations are made by the students and evaluated by the faculty. Constructive feedback is given to all the participants. Monetary prizes are awarded for the best presentations in each category. The day is topped off by a keynote address by an outstanding scientist and role model.

Invited Seminar Speakers

During the course of the academic year, students have the opportunity to invite guest speakers. In addition, the students get to meet with the guest speakers, who are often role models, during lunch.

Social Events

During the course of the year, several social events are also planned. In the past these have included such events as attending baseball games, hockey, paintball, symphony, paddle boarding and soccer matches. The graduating students have a celebratory dinner hosted by the Program Director, Associate Program Director, and the Assistant Program Director.

Application Information

This combined degree program is designed for outstanding students who wish to become physician scientists and pursue a research career in an academic environment. The requirements for both degrees for our program are completed on average in 8 years. A stipend of $28,500/year, paid health insurance, and tuition paid via a Dean's Scholarship are provided for Medical Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.) students. The MCAT is required (taken within 3 years from the date of matriculation) but the GRE test is not required. Average credentials for previous matriculants are 3.85 GPA and a MCAT score in the 88th percentile.

Applicants to the M.D./Ph.D. program must first complete an application via AMCAS as well as a MUSC supplemental application. They must also submit at least 3 letters of recommendation through AMCAS. Once the documents are received by our office, they are reviewed by the Admissions Committee for the MUSC MSTP. Applicants who are considered competitive for our program will receive an invitation by email for an interview. Deadline for submission of the AMCAS application is November 1, 2018. The MSTP Admissions Committee along with the College of Medicine Admissions Committee has the full authority to admit students to the program.

Application Web Sites

We are particularly interested in why you want to come to MUSC for the MSTP, your current research interests and what research you would like to pursue in gradaute school. Your MSTP application will serve as the secondary application for both the Doctor of Medicine program and for the MSTP. No additional application is required to be considered for both programs. As part of the personal statement, the student should explain how this program will fit into his/her career goals.

The committee takes a holistic approach in the evaluation of the applications and will consider the following criteria for admission to the program:

  • evidence of serious and enthusiastic commitment to the program
  • grade point average of 3.5
  • superior performance on the MCAT, 80th percentile or higher
  • receipt of a baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation into the program
  • record of advanced courses in the physical and/or biological sciences
  • demonstrable evidence of a commitment to research
  • outstanding recommendations from faculty at the applicant's undergraduate institution and research mentor(s)

Interviews and discussions with the members of the MSTP Admissions Committee and graduate program directors are conducted.

Interview Process

Candidates selected to interview will receive an email invitation. Interviews are conducted on select Fridays in October-January. The candidate will meet with members of the MSTP Admissions Committee, College of Medicine Admissions Committee, research faculty and the Director or Associate Director of the program. They will also have lunch and dinner with some of the current MSTP students. On Saturday, the candidates will go on a carriage tour of historic Charleston. The hotel arrangements will be made and paid for by the MSTP office. Candidates will be responsible for their own travel expenses. Candidates offered admission will be invited for a second visit in 2019. The MSTP will reimburse the candidate for their economy class flight or mileage for the second visit.

Committment to Diversity

MUSC is committed to the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action. MUSC welcomes applications from all individuals who come from diverse populations that are under-represented in science or academia, including but not limited to racial and ethnic minorities, individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, and individuals with physical disabilities.

MUSC provides accommodations for students with disabilities. The Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is responsible for coordinating disability support services and monitoring the accessibility of programs, activities and buildings for the MUSC and MUSC Health communities, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The staff assists departments with providing reasonable accommodations for students, faculty and staff with disabilities; ensures that MUSC programs and events are accessible to the MUSC community and visitors; monitors the accessibility of the university and medical center buildings; investigates disability discrimination complaints; and provides training on disability related issues. Students needing disability related assistance can contact the College of Graduate Studies (CSG) ADA Coordinator Stephanie Brown-Guion at 843-876-2408 or More information about requesting accomodations can be found here.

Statistics & FAQ

2017-2018 MSTP Admission Statistics

Number of Applicants: 208
Interviewed Applicants: 51
Number Matriculated: 10
Average MCAT Interviewed: 515
Average GPA Interviewed: 3.85
Total Students Enrolled 2018-19: 54
Men: 37
Women: 17
Under Represented Minorities: 5
Medicine Phase: 25
Graduate Phase: 29

Opportunities in Translational Research

Integration of the Basic and Clinical Sciences to Provide Training in Translational Research

In keeping with the philosophy of our program which is to rigorously train M.D./Ph.D. students, the program has a series of programs available to its students that will allow them to receive training in clinical investigation, while still learning the rigors of hypothesis driven basic science research. Below are listed opportunities that our program provides for its trainees to gain a fundamental understanding of how to conduct translational research.

As part of the NIH roadmap initiative a major emphasis has been placed on clinical and translational research. The Medical University of South Carolina is committed to the concept of developing an enhanced infrastructure to facilitate clinical and translational research.

Medical Scientist Training Program Clinic in Translational Research

Course # MDCOR-871
Course Co-Directors:
Nancy DeMore, M.D., FACS Program Director, MSTP
Donald R. Menick, Ph.D. Associate Program Director, MSTP

Duration: one 1/2 day per week for two semesters
Credit hours: 2.5 per semester - Fulfills one third year Medical School Selective

The goal of this clinical experience is for MSTP students to learn how to better integrate the basic sciences and their area of research interest with a meaningful clinical/translational experience. The clinical experience is conducted during the student's Ph.D. training. The students are expected to discuss the patient's problems from a literature/research perspective. They work in a clinic, one-half day a week with a clinician-scientist who is chosen based on his/her demonstrated commitment to research. This translational clinical experience is required of MSTP students. The mentors for this clinic could help the students with a potential clinical study that may evolve from their basic science project. This experience helps the student to maintain their clinical skills and smooths their transition back to medical school. The course plan for the Clinic in Translational Sciences follows:


  • Create an environment where students begin to develop an appreciation for the process of translational research
  • Introduce students to mentors who can serve as role models


  • Students attend clinic no more than one half-day a week and with the same faculty mentor
  • Required to attend for two semesters
  • Program is pass/fail/honors
  • Two semesters may be used to satisfy one third year selective in medical school

Choosing a Mentor:

  • A list of mentors who are clinician-scientists is provided and approved by the Associate Program Director and/or Program Director
  • Whenever possible and/or appropriate the students will choose a mentor/clinic that is related to their dissertation research

Schedule with Mentor:

  • Introductory period to gain familiarity with the clinic
  • Mentor assigns patient(s)
  • Students will evaluate no more than one new patient per clinic and will see their return patients
  • Students are responsible for patient care (history, physical examinations, diagnosis and treatment plan) while the patient is under the care of that clinic

Clinical Research:

  • Students will research the latest concepts concerning the patient's disease and discuss them with the clinician-scientist

Expectations of Students:

  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of the disease
  • Provide support for diagnosis and treatment that they propose
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current literature and provide references
  • Acquire proficiency in the history and physical examination

Expectations of Mentors:

  • Constructively challenge student's knowledge of current research literature
  • Practice evidence based medicine
  • Help the student gain skills in the history, physical examination, differential diagnosis and treatment

Evaluation of the MSTP clinic in translational sciences:

  • Both students and mentors are required to fill out an evaluation form at the end of each semester

Rotation in the SCTR Research Nexus

Course # MED-832
Course Co-Directors:
Dr. Carol Wagner and Dr. Perry V. Halushka

During the senior year of medical school, MSTP students spend a month in the SCTR Research Nexus. The center is the hub of clinical investigation. The time is spent in a series of experiences that provide a significant exposure to clinical/translational research. Students spend time working with clinical researchers, attend Institutional Review Board meetings, attend SCTR Research Nexus advisory committee meetings, attend lectures about clinical research topics and meet with the support personnel for the SCTR Research Nexus. The major objective is for the student to write a clinical translational research study in the form of an R21 grant application based on the discoveries made during the basic science research that he/she conducted during the PhD years. Alternatively, students may design a study based on their future career path. A full study is developed along with an informed consent. The student works with a mentor and obtains all the help necessary to fully develop the clinical study. At the end of the course the student formally presents his/her research study to members of the SCTR Research Nexus, selected other individuals and to the rest of the MSTP students. While this experience per se will not make the student an accomplished clinical investigator, it will break down some of the myths and barriers real or perceived that have impeded MD/PhD students from conducting clinical translational research.


  • Students will develop an understanding of and foundation in the principles of Clinical Investigation


Students will:

  • Participate in the protocols being conducted in the SCTR Research Nexus
  • Attend the SCTR Research Nexus advisory committee meeting
  • Attend an IRB meeting
  • Develop a clinical investigation research study based on their dissertation research or future career path and present it for approval
  • Learn statistical approaches used in clinical investigation

Contact Us

Medical Scientist Training Program
68 President St., BE 101
MSC 501
Charleston, SC 29425
Phone: (843) 876-2405
Fax: (843) 876-2416

Nancy DeMore, M.D., FACS
Director of M.D./Ph.D. program

Amy Connolly
Assistant Director MSTP
Contact for appointments with the Dean or issues regarding the M.D./Ph.D. program

Charlotte Kerr
College of Medicine Admissions Coordinator