In recent years, tremendous advances in molecular biology and diagnostic technologies have provided new insights into cellular physiology and the mechanisms of human disease. The translation of these advances into a better understanding of human pathophysiology requires a unique set of skills. The skills and knowledge required for translational research and clinical investigation differ from the techniques of outcomes research and epidemiology taught through schools of public health.

Vanderbilt Medical Center has been a leader in the training of clinical investigators for a number of years. In 1996 the Clinical Research Task Force recommended the development of a Master's program in clinical investigation to build upon Vanderbilt's legacy for training clinical investigators. The Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) Program was approved by the Executive Faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1999. The initiative was led by Dr. Nancy J. Brown and Dr. Thomas A. Hazinski.

Vanderbilt's MSCI program is continuing the University's tradition of excellence in education and training in clinical and translational research.  Since 2000, MSCI trainees have published over 1930 research articles since matriculation, including publications in JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and Hypertension. Since the program’s inception in 2000, VU MSCI alumni and students have amassed $12.6M as principle investigators of K awards, $16.4M as principle investigators of R awards, and $109.4M in foundation grants.  Of the K awardees, 33% have converted to an R award.  Nearly 90% of MSCI alumni pursue careers in academic medicine. Furthermore, Vanderbilt's MSCI program has a 95% completion rate.