Courses

All courses listed below are offered every year.

Developing Solutions to Research Problems 

Learning Objectives: The goal for the course is to expose MD-PhD students to predominant areas of basic and translational research, and to the knowledge skills necessary to conduct research in these areas. To meet this goal, the course material will provide the foundational knowledge, introduce methodology underlying contemporary basic biomedical research, and highlight the connections to questions of clinical and translational importance. 

Upon completion of this course, the MD-PhD students should be able to:

  • Name and describe the major classes of macromolecules that regulate cellular functions, and recognize the distinct properties of each class. 
  • Give examples of how macromolecules from each class interact in both normal cellular physiology and in disease. 
  • Define and explain essential technical and conceptual investigative approaches used in predominant areas of basic, clinical and translational research. 
  • Identify papers in the primary research literature that relate to specific questions of biomedical relevance, and explain the basis for their relevance. 
  • Assess the general biomedical research area, and the clinical and translational implications of the research activity of specific investigators at this institution. 
  • Articulate novel questions related to a specific area of active investigation that could be the basis of a viable thesis project. 
  • Propose feasible experimental strategies, including application of appropriate techniques, assessment of potential contingencies and pitfalls, and identification of alternative approaches, for investigation of novel research questions. 
  • When presented with two or more reports from the primary literature that reach conflicting conclusions about similar questions, evaluate the evidence and defend the merits of a particular argument. This includes an articulation of the major conclusions from each report, and an identification and evaluation of experiments that support the conclusions.

First year MD/PhD students enroll in the course as a group. It is held during the academic year during time set aside specifically for the MD/PhD program. The course runs for three semesters from September through July. It includes 20 lectures based on the key topics from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) core curriculum, taught by the same faculty as in GSBS. The goal for the course is to expose MD-PhD students to predominant areas of basic and translational research, and to the knowledge skills necessary to conduct research in these areas. To meet this goal, each session consists of a one hour overview of the topic, provided by the faculty member in lecture format, followed by a second hour of active student participation in which specific research problem/questions will be analyzed. During this second hour, the faculty will pose a specific research problem of current interest (e.g. one being pursued currently by his/her laboratory), and guide a discussion on the approaches being used to solve the problem/question. This discussion will highlight technical approaches being used, and when appropriate, their historical origin and how they have evolved into modern experimental techniques. When appropriate, the discussion will highlight the relationship between the research problem and questions of clinical and translational importance.

Second year MD/PhD students participate in a "one-on-one" relationship with a selected faculty member for a more intensive exposure to their field of research. This includes the review and discussion of primary contemporary literature, creation of a research questions, and hypothetical setting up of appropriate experiments to test a hypothesis. The goal of the tutorial is to expose students to different research fields and to our GSBS faculty during their pre-clinical education. This experience will also help them select the laboratory to perform their thesis work. The tutorial consists of an hour each week (or every other week depending on their schedule), and may include attendance at a lab meeting and/or participation in lab journal club. 

Catalog number: MDP740

Introduction to Tranlsational Medicine 

Course Goals: 
The MD/PhD program stresses the importance of clinical involvement throughout the graduate years. The first goal of this course is to provide students with a continuous link to clinical skills and to familiarize students with different clinical settings. Sessions should reinforce clinical skills learned from the first two years of the medical curriculum plus the 16 weeks of clerkship in Care of Family and Care of Adults prior to research studies. 
The students will engage in clinical experiences for a minimum 10 hours in the fall and spring semesters and five hours during the summer semester. The students can round with physicians on the ward services, attend an outpatient clinic, or participate in supervised freestanding clinics in the local area. The second goal of this section of the course is to ease the transition back to the clinical years of medical school by each student working with a designated clinical preceptor who will supervise two returning MD-PhD students as they perform complete interviews, physical examinations, oral presentations, and write ups on hospitalized patients. Students will be evaluated by their faculty in these skills and a summary report will be generated at the end of the course.

The guidelines for a preceptor are as follows: 

  • They must be a faculty member at UMass either Full, Associate or Assistant Professor.
  • They cannot be a resident, fellow or visiting scholar.
  • The clinical sessions can take place at any of the hospital or affiliated hospital campuses and local free clinics as long as they are directly supervised by a UMass faculty member.

Catalog number: MDP741

HIPAA and OSHA Certification 

Certification module of HIPPA and OSHA that students enrolled in the PhD portion of the program and are required to maintain annually (within the first two weeks GSBS fall semester) each year. This is an online BLS Vista class which can be accessed by each MD/PhD student registered for this course in PSSA. The scores will be monitored by the MD/PhD Program Administrator during the student's PhD years. 
Catalog number: MDP742

Preparation for Thesis Research 

Preparation of MD/PhD students to enter GSBS full time research in fall term after completing 16 weeks of clinical clerkships from May through August prior to GSBS start. This includes meetings with the future PI, literature review and, when scheduling permits, attendance at lab meetings. For students who have not yet selected a PI the requirements are to work with MD/PhD and GSBS leadership to target and meet with potential lab rotation mentors during the summer term. 
Catalog number: MDP743

School of Medicine Learning Communities 

This course provides information about SoM Learning Communities (LC) including house member lists, Mentor-Mentee assignments, LC student leadership, career planning resources, information for planning clerkships and more. This is important for all the MD/PhD students during both the SoM and GSBS years. 
Catalog number: MDP744

MD/PhD Seminar Series

This seminar series is a monthly event, organized by the MD/PhD students, and participation is required for all years in the program. The seminar assists students in developing communications competency through these presentations. Every month, two upper level graduate students present their research project. A moderator will maintain the 20 minute timeframe and facilitate the discussion. An anonymous critical evaluation is provided by each of the students' colleagues electronically. 
Catalog number: MDP 800

Qualifying Examination 

MD/PHD Students are required to register for this course in the spring semester of the academic year in which they are to pass their Qualifying Examination. 
MD/PHD Students will register for the course in the spring semester even if they have already passed the exam in the prior semester. If the student successfully completes the exam by the end of the spring semester, they will receive a grade of Pass. If the student has not yet successfully completed the exam by the end of the spring semester, they will receive a grade of Incomplete. This will be changed to pass once the exam is passed. This course must be passed before the beginning of the next academic year. 
Catalog number: MDP 860

MD/PHD TRAC meeting 

All MD/PHD Graduate Students are required to have two TRAC meeting per calendar year, every 6 months. After passing their Qualifying Examination and selection of their TRAC, students are required to register for this course each fall and spring semester until their Dissertation Advisory Committee is formed. The student’s TRAC Chair will be the Course Coordinator. 
Students will be graded upon the receipt of a TRAC meeting form by the MD/PhD Program Administrator. If the student has a TRAC meeting by the end of a semester, they will receive a grade of Pass. If they have not yet had a TRAC meeting that semester, they will receive a grade of Incomplete. They will be changed to Pass once the meeting has been held 
Catalog number: MDP 865

Graduate Research

For program students who have completed the PhD portion of the program 
Students enrolled in the MD/PHD Program who have completed their requirements for the PhD degree will register for this GSBS course each semester while completing their School of Medicine requirements. Students enrolled in this course will participate in and assist with the teaching/evaluation of the MDP Seminar course (MDP800) and complete the SoM curriculum. This curriculum includes both an Advanced Biomedical Science requirement and a senior scholars project all of which may take them back to the lab, finishing papers or participating in an MD/PhD electronic journal. This course is the MD/PhD equivalent of the GSBS course - GR900, Graduate Research. All students must be in good standing in the MD/PhD program to pass. 
Catalog number: MDP990