Program-Specific Courses and Activities

At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, we offer several special courses for our MD/PhD students. Course offerings include:

Problem Solving in Biomedical Science

This course is designed to introduce you to current disease-oriented research problems through lectures and collaborative problem-solving. In each session, we will explore experimental model systems and paradigms that are advancing biomedical science. We use a problem-based learning approach to help you develop experimental design and scientific critical thinking skills.

Course Directors: Margaret H. Baron, MD, PhD, and Talia Swartz, MD, PhD

Biomedical Sciences for MD/PhDs

Our Biomedical Sciences for MD/PhDs course is a one-year graduate core course tailored for MD/PhD students. The fall offering of this course (BSR1017) is designed to present concepts in biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular genetics, and occurs concurrently with the medical school course Molecular, Cellular and Genomic Foundations (MCG). The medical school MCG course provides a broad molecular and cellular framework for understanding normal physiology, with an emphasis on concepts related to human disease. Our course provides a parallel lecture series with an emphasis on mechanisms, methodological approaches, and experimental context that will help you understand the basis of our current knowledge. Tutorial Sessions are integrated into the course, and include journal club sessions focussed on experimental concepts and critical reasoning.

The spring offering of the course (BSR1018) presents more advanced concepts in cell biology, cell physiology, immunology and microbiology, stem cells and differentiation, animal models of human disease, and aging.

Course Director: Matthew O'Connell, PhD

Medical Scientist Grand Rounds

This full-year course was designed with the goal of emphasizing cross-fertilization between basic science and clinical medicine and as an additional mechanism for providing continued contact with clinical medical for students in their PhD years. Student participation is required through the end of PhD training. This series brings together the Mount Sinai academic community by partnering clinicians with physician-scientists and biomedical research presentations in lively and interactive discussions about health and disease that reflect innovations in both clinical medicine and basic science. 

The sessions are centered upon a clinical case presented by senior MD/PhD students with Mount Sinai house staff and clinical faculty. The student and house staff lead a discussion through the clinical reasoning that led to the diagnosis and treatment. The discussion of the clinical topic will then lead into the second part of the session, a presentation of PhD research by a senior MD/PhD student that provides some background behind the pathophysiology of a disease and/or a therapeutic approach. Senior clinicians and scientists are invited to attend and participate in the discussions.

The sessions will close with comments from the senior faculty regarding the significance of the topic and frontiers to be advanced by future research in the field. The objectives of this course are to 1) interact with students at various levels of the MD/PhD program; 2) meet clinical and basic science faculty as potential mentors/advisors; 3) learn about translational science as it pertains to a specific field; 4) engage in a dialogue between clinicians and scientists through moderated panel discussion; and 4) identify key gaps in knowledge within specific fields.

MD/PhD Clinical Refresher

This eight-week course is designed to facilitate the transition from your PhD training years to your clinical medicine years. The course incorporates practical and didactic sessions to help you regain familiarity with history taking, physical examination skills, written and oral presentations, and clinical reasoning. You will receive a full day orientation re-introducing the fundamentals of history taking and physical examination skills.

The course is split up into four sections: Clinical Basics Orientation, Module 1: Supervised patient care, Inpatient shadowing, and Module 2: Individual patient care.

From these four sections there will be six weeks of direct patient encounters, during which students will practice their oral and written presentations and participate in didactic case discussions led by field experts. The course incorporates board-style questions into each weekly topic, thereby introducing the concept of multiple-choice format clinical reasoning.

By the end of the course, you will be able to conduct history and physical examinations, present in both written and oral forms, interpret and assimilate clinical data to create differential diagnoses, and review pathophysiology of common disease processes.

Course DirectorsJenny J. Lin, MD, MPH, and Talia H. Swartz, MD, PhD

MSTP-Specific Student Activities

The Medical Science Training Program sponsors a range of academic and career-related activities throughout the year designed to enhance your learning experience. Program-specific activities include:

Annual MSTP Retreat

Held off-campus over a Fall weekend, the Retreat is an important venue for program evaluation and for all students to interact with each other both personally and professionally outside ISMMS. The Retreat begins with a “State-of-the-MSTP” session, a report by the Director of issues addressed over the past year and new initiatives planned for the coming year. The broad-based, spontaneous feedback generated by lively discussions among the students, Directors and guests (including alumni, whose perspective is greatly appreciated) is invaluable in prioritizing areas for attention. The Retreat also features an outstanding physician-scientist keynote speaker, a career-oriented session, poster and platform scientific presentations by current MSTP students, and training stage-relevant break-out sessions led by program Leadership, faculty actively involved in the program, and students.

Meet the Physician Scientist

This is a monthly student-organized activity in which MD-PhD trainees at all stages meet over lunch with a physician scientist (from Mount Sinai or another New York City institution) to discuss career development issues.

Table 4 Eight

Students from each of the approximately eight years of the MSTP meet over lunch (one for each year) once a month to discuss science, medicine, career development, and other areas of interest to the group.

Bedside Rounds

In this monthly program, a physician leads a group of six MD/PhD students through an interesting clinical case, demonstrating clinical findings and familiarizing the group with the thought processes involved from diagnosis to management. This one-hour structured shadowing and networking experience is open to MD/PhD students of all years but is especially valuable for those preparing to transition back to the clinic.