Integrated Curriculum


The MD-PhD Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch is designed to educate well-trained clinician-scientists who are equally at home at the patient’s bedside and in the research lab. We have developed a specific, integrated MD-PhD curriculum that combines aspects of both the medical school and graduate school experiences to optimize the education of physician-scientists. The medical school curriculum at UTMB is centered around systems-based modules with a primary emphasis on small group and self-learning. This curriculum allows for an unprecedented opportunity to incorporate special seminars and courses tailored specifically for needs of the combined degree student. This situation is ideal for the education of MD-PhD students since it integrates the two education tracks with a view toward shortening the time spent in classrooms and speeding the entry of the MD-PhD student into the research phase of his/her training. This truly innovative curriculum fosters the cross-pollination of ideas and helps bridge the gap between basic research and clinical practice.

Program Overview Diagram

Program Overview

Summer Prior to Year 1: Research rotation
Year 1: First year medical school curriculum plus supplemental graduate courses that complement the medical school curriculum. Summer after year 1: Research rotation.
Year 2: Second year medical school curriculum. USMLE Step 1 taken at the end of 2nd year. A third research rotation is an option at the end of year 2 or the student may begin dissertation research.
Year 3: Dissertation research plus completion of graduate school courses. Qualifying exams are taken at the end of year 3.
Year 4: Dissertation research.
Year 5: Dissertation research. Dissertation is defended at end of the 5th year or beginning of 6th year.
Years 6-7: Required medical school clinical clerkships and clinical electives.

MD-PhD Course Descriptions

MD-PhD Lab Rotation (MDPH 6001)
The objectives of this course are to provide students an opportunity to become familiar with the faculty and their research efforts in the graduate school by participating in the activities of the lab and by becoming acquainted with the lab staff and the goals of the research project. Letter grades will be determined by the instructor and will be based on lab performance. Course taken during the summers prior to year 1, 2, and 3 (optional).

MD-PhD Seminar (MDPH 6101)
The seminar program focuses on research activities in various graduate programs and other topics of interest to M.D.-Ph.D. students. Grading is determined on a pass (satisfactory)/fail basis, based on participation/attendance. Course taken during the fall and spring semesters for the duration of the program.

Current Topics in Molecules, Cells and Tissues Course (MDPH 6203)
This course is designed to supplement the medical school molecules, cells, and tissues block. Students will meet weekly to review current literature related to the molecular mechanisms of diseases covered in the medical school. Students will be graded (letter grades) on class performance and attendance. Course taken in fall term of year 1.

Current Topics in Pathobiology and Host Defense Course (MDPH 6102)
This course is designed to supplement the medical school pathobiology and host defense block. Students will meet weekly to review current literature related to disease pathogenesis covered in the medical school. Students will be graded (letter grades) on class performance and attendance. Course taken in spring term of year 1.

Current Topics in Neuroscience and Human Behavior Course (MDPH 6202)
This course is designed to supplement the medical school neuroscience course. Students will meet weekly to review current literature related to neuroscience covered in the medical school. Students will be graded (letter grades) based on class performance and attendance. Course taken in spring term of year 1.