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The Patient-Oriented Research Training and Leadership (PORTAL) program provides multifaceted training in the design and conduct of original research studies, leading to new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease. This comprehensive dual-degree program prepares you for a future as a lifelong learner and for a career in academia, research institutes, industry, or regulatory agencies.

Once enrolled in the PORTAL program, students are introduced to the thought processes used by patient-oriented clinical and translational researchers. The curriculum includes graduate courses in biostatistics, data science, clinical research design, and bioethics, with the opportunity to tailor the curriculum with electives from a wide range of topics available at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Students should expect to spend approximately three to four extra hours per week on the PORTAL curriculum during the second year of medical school. The remaining coursework will be completed during the scholarly year. There are no additional courses required during the remaining years, which allows students to focus on the MD curriculum during that time.

Class sizes are small, providing ample opportunity to ask questions and learn from professors, all of whom are clinical investigators. As a PORTAL student, you will attend class with graduate students, residents, and fellows interested in pursuing a clinical research career, allowing you to gain a broad perspective.

Core Competencies

Our curriculum focuses on helping you gain a solid foundation for conducting independent patient-oriented research studies, including the ability to:

  • Recognize major clinical, translational, and public health research problems
  • Describe observational and experimental clinical research methods and study designs
  • Identify measurement and methodological issues in incorporating basic science, translational, clinical, and population variables into clinical research
  • Implement data management and analysis
  • Employ written and oral scientific communication and dissemination skills
  • Explain, assess, and employ research ethics

Master’s Thesis

For the thesis, students pursue original scholarly research on a subject of their choice, guided by a faculty mentorship team and the program directors. This entails formulation of a research question, design and conduct of a research plan, analysis of the resulting data, and presentation of the findings.

Students will work individually with Keith Sigel, MD, PhD and Mary Rojas, PhD to identify a research mentor for the scholarly year. They will also meet with the PORTAL Peer Mentoring Group throughout the year to discuss issues such as finding a mentor and selecting a research project.

Clinical Research Overview

Clinical Research Program
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