Welcome

VCUSOM Message from the Dean - Welcome from Dr. Donnenberg

Welcome

We believe that the most efficient and effective pathway to train physician-scientists is to combine an MD with a PhD, keeping the unique aspects of both degrees while eliminating areas of redundancy. Our combined degree program blends medicine and science throughout the entire curriculum, making MD-PhD training greater than the sum of its parts.

I welcome you to our website. Please take some time to look around and see the many great opportunities that we have to offer.

-Michael S. Donnenberg, MD-PhD Program Director

Overview

The mission of VCU’s MD-PhD program is to train physician-scientists to improve human health through discovery in basic and social sciences and biomedical engineering.

The VCU School of Medicine has been awarding combined MD and PhD degrees since 1975. In 1988, the school made a formal commitment to support and grow the program and, in 2006, to support all students with paid tuition, fees and stipend.

Student Statistics

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Average number of years to complete both degrees

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Average number of publications as MD-PhD student

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Percentage of eligible students who have an NIH F30 training grant

Admissions

The VCU MD-PhD Program encourages students with disabilities, underrepresented minorities, and students who are disadvantaged to apply.

Matriculation PlotThe median (bold horizontal lines), middle quartiles (colored boxes), and range (vertical lines) of undergraduate grade point average, medical college admissions test scores, and months of full-time research of applicants who ultimately enrolled in our program from 2012 – 2019 (GPA and MCAT) or 2014 – 2019 (research experience).To be considered for the VCU MD-PhD Program, prospective students must apply to the medical school through the American Medical College Application Service. Please designate “Combined Graduate/Medical Degree” on your AMCAS application.

The VCU MD-PhD program is committed to a holistic application review, taking into consideration not only grades and scores, but the depth and quality of research experience, exposure to clinical medical opportunities, evidence of altruism, personal statements, and unique factors that allow the applicant to contribute to a vibrant, diverse student population. Current VCU MD-PhD students often complete the initial review of submitted applications.

Research

Research Resources

VCU School of Medicine (SOM) has been investing in research, building and renovating laboratories and recruiting well-funded investigators. Sanger Hall, at 486,000 ft2 the largest of our research facilities, has benefited from total renovation of the fourth (Pathology) and fifth (Microbiology and Immunology) floors since 2016 with open lab and shared space configurations (insert pictures).  The Molecular Medicine Research Building, which opened in 2009, shares the open lab design, as does the Massey Cancer Center’s Goodwin Research Building, which opened in 2005. Additionally, a new interdisciplinary Neurosciences Building is in the planning stages. Researchers at VCU have access to a full suite of core laboratories, including state-of-the-art microscopy, transgenic/knockout mouse, proteomics and metabolomics, and structural biology cores. The SOM also has a variety of pilot project grant opportunities for its faculty, which provide the seed funding that can lead to external grant success. Indeed, these efforts seem to be paying off, as grant funding to SOM faculty has been growing at an impressive rate.

vcu som research funding

All of these efforts have tangible benefits for our MD-PhD students, who can choose a mentor from over 110 participating faculty representing 17 Ph.D. granting programs. Collectively, these faculty have over 66 million dollars in external funding, or over $3.3M per student requiring support. Links to faculty who serve as current mentors for our students in the graduate phase, or recent mentors for our students in the last two years, can be found by visiting the student profiles.

While our participating faculty include well-funded and highly accomplished investigators in all of the programs available, it is worth noting some of our particular strengths.

  • The Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, endowed by the Wright family and funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH, provides a strong infrastructure for medically-relevant research, including grant and paper writing courses and workshops, biostatistics consultations, clinical trial support, research navigation and mentorship programs. The Wright CCTR is also home to the PhD in Clinical and Translational Sciences with a specialized interdisciplinary concentration in Cancer and Molecular Medicine, the most popular dissertation program among MD-PhD students.
  • The Massey Cancer Center, with its National Cancer Center designation, is home to outstanding, cutting-edge treatments and also the full range of cancer-related research, from molecular to population-based research.
  • The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics conducts ground-breaking research into the interplay between our genome and complex mental disorders and behavioral traits, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, obesity, sleep disorders, alcohol use and drug use.
  • The VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies brings together our many highly-funded researchers who study many aspects of these complex issues. VCU consistently ranks comfortably in the highest quintile of funding from both the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  • A full list of VCU research-intensive institutes and centers can be found here.

PhD Training Options

MD-PhD students have many options for their dissertation work, including traditional department-based basic science disciplines in the School of Medicine, basic research in other Colleges and Schools within VCU, cross-departmental translational and clinical research, healthcare policy and behavioral sciences research, and applied research in Biomedical Engineering and Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

PhD Program

Department

School or College

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

School of Medicine

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

College of Engineering

Biostatistics

Biostatistics

School of Medicine

Cancer and Molecular Medicine

Interdisciplinary

Institutional

Chemical Biology

Interdisciplinary

College of Humanities and Sciences

Epidemiology

Family Medicine and Population Health

School of Medicine

Healthcare Policy and Research

Health Behavior and Policy

School of Medicine

Human and Molecular Genetics

Human and Molecular Genetics

School of Medicine

Microbiology and Immunology

Microbiology and Immunology

School of Medicine

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Interdisciplinary

College of Humanities and Sciences

Neurosciences

Interdisciplinary

School of Medicine

Oral Health

Phillips Institute for Oral Health Research

School of Dentistry

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Medicinal Chemistry

School of Pharmacy

Pharmacology and Toxicology

Pharmacology and Toxicology

School of Medicine

Physiology and Biophysics

Physiology and Biophysics

School of Medicine

Psychiatric Behavioral and Statistical Genetics

Interdisciplinary

Life Sciences

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Health Behavior and Policy

School of Medicine

Curriculum

The VCU MD-PhD Program boasts an integrated curriculum, blending medical school with scientific studies throughout the journey.

  MD-PhD Curriculum

Preclinical Students

Preclinical Students

Preclinical Students

Preclinical Students

Preclinical Students

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Grad Phase Students

Grad Phase Students

Grad Phase Students

Grad Phase Students

Grad Phase Students

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Clinical Students

Clinical Students

Clinical Students

Clinical Students

Clinical Students

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