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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions frequently asked regarding the MSCI program. Select a question from the list or contact MSCI@vanderbilt.edu with additional questions.

The MSCI program occupies a unique niche within the continuum of our MD, MD-PhD and MPH training programs. The MD-PhD program trains physician-scientists to perform basic molecular research, while the MPH program trains physician-scientists to perform epidemiology, outcomes, health services and quality improvement research. The MSCI program will train physicians and other health professionals in the fundamental tools of patient-oriented research, which generally involves mechanistic, hypothesis-driven research on patients, often within the context of clinical trials of new drugs, devices, or procedures.

The MSCI trainee will be expected to commit 80 percent of his/her time during the two-year period to the didactic courses and mentored research project.

Yes, you may enroll in MSCI courses as a Special Student; Special Students are non-degree seeking enrollees.  Often individuals will enroll in a course as a Special Student to determine if MSCI is a good fit for their academic needs and career trajectory.  The cost of tuition for a Special Student is $1613 per credit hour (2019-2020).  The purchase of textbooks, software, and other research supplies is the responsibility of the Special Student.

Auditing MSCI courses are not allowed.

The best way to find a research mentor is to meet with your training program director or academic supervisor and discuss potential mentors in your own division or department. A mentor should be an experienced clinical investigator with an established research program, as evidenced by a track record of consistent extramural funding.

Mentors may be in departments other than the department of the prospective trainee but are working in areas well aligned with the trainee’s interests. MSCI Program Directors are available to provide advice to trainees who have questions about mentors.

Active clinical research projects are conducted by faculty members in a variety of successful groups, including Clinical Pharmacology, Endocrinology/Metabolism, Hematology/Oncology, Vaccine Development, Genetics, Psychiatry, and in several divisions of the departments of Medicine and Pediatrics. MSCI Program Directors are available to advise trainees and prospective trainee sponsors about the research interests of specific investigators. Review the list of clinical research projects conducted by 2017-2019 trainees and 2018-2020 trainees.

Not necessarily. In fact, an important aspect of this program is to encourage the placement of trainees in research programs which are located in different divisions or departments. The trainee would be exposed to the wider culture of clinical research and bring back skills and ideas that might advance the clinical research agenda of the trainee’s home department. In addition, the trainee would be able to maintain collegial relationships with the research mentor’s research group, as the trainee’s career moves toward independence and successful competition for extramural funding.