Welcome

Welcome from Dr. Donnenberg

Welcome

VCU represents the epitome of “smart and nice,” and exemplifies a culture of collaborative learning and science within the beautiful city of Richmond, Virginia. Our Medical Scientist Training Program values student input and shared governance of the program, reflected in the formation of a student council on which one representative from each cohort serves, and where our voices shape the program’s trajectory. We extend a warm welcome to our landing page! VCU is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are proud that our peers embody an intricate variety of backgrounds, coming together from across the nation and internationally. Here, the unique perspectives we bring have a safe space for expression, collaboration, and learning. From research to clinical clerkships, our faculty take pride in teaching and mentoring us at every stage of our training as physician-scientists. Our students have opportunities to serve in leadership positions during both medical and graduate school, and during times of leisure, can enrich their experiences by taking advantage of all Richmond has to offer. From kayaking on the historic James River to world-class museums and renowned offerings within the culinary arts, Richmond is a perfect blend of bustle and the glorious outdoors. We hope to meet many of you and wish you the best in the moments of success and setbacks as you embark on your endeavor to become a physician-scientist.
-VCU MSTP Student Council


Physician scientists have contributed immeasurably to the increase in longevity and quality of life humanity has enjoyed over the past century. Regrettably, further progress is threatened by shortcomings in sustainability and equity. The VCU School of Medicine addresses this challenge by training future generations through our Medical Scientist Training Program. Our innovative program is built upon core values of equity, transparency, wellness, and shared governance.  We are committed to a trainee-centered environment that integrates medicine and science throughout the curriculum, providing an education much greater than the sum of its parts. Please take some time to peruse our website where you can learn about the many great opportunities that we offer. You can also visit the VCU M.D.-Ph.D. Facebook page for additional updates.
-Michael Donnenberg, MD, MSTP Director
Senior Associate Dean for Research and Research Training

Overview

The mission of VCU’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is to educate diverse physician-scientists to improve human health through discovery in basic and social sciences and biomedical engineering.

The VCU School of Medicine has had a recognized M.D.-Ph.D. program since 1986. Over the years, the school's commitment to the program has grown alongside it, providing support to all students with paid tuition, fees, health insurance and stipend. In 2022, the program received a prestigious MSTP award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, placing VCU within an elite group of universities that have an NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and an MSTP award.

Arts and Culture in Richmond

MSTP student Jess Kiernan discusses the art and culture scene in RVA.
Watch Video Here
Arts and Culture in Richmond
MSTP student Jess Kiernan discusses the art and culture scene in RVA.

Running in Richmond

MSTP student Kara Dods discusses running in RVA.
Discover Running in Richmond
Running in Richmond
MSTP Kara Dods discusses running in RVA.

Mountain Biking in Richmond

MSTP student Graeme Murray discusses mountain biking in RVA.
Discover Mountain Biking in Richmond
Mountain Biking in Richmond
MSTP student Graeme Murray discusses mountain biking in RVA.

Student Statistics

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Average number of years to complete both degrees

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Average number of publications as a MSTP student

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Percentage of eligible students who have an NIH F30 training grant

Admissions

The VCU MSTP encourages students with disabilities, members of underrepresented groups and students who are disadvantaged to apply.

Average number of applicants, interviews conducted, accepted students, and enrolled students from cycles ending 2018 – 2022. To be considered for the VCU MSTP, 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 MSTP 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 MSTP students often complete the initial review of submitted applications.

The median (bold horizontal lines), middle quartiles (colored boxes) and outer quartiles minus outliers (vertical lines) of undergraduate grade point average and Medical College Admission Test scores of applicants who ultimately enrolled in our program from 2018 – 2022.

Research

Research Resources

VCU School of Medicine has been investing in research, building and renovating laboratories, and recruiting well-funded investigators. Sanger Hall, at 486,000 ft2, is the largest of our research facilities and has benefited from a total renovation of the fourth (pathology) and fifth (microbiology and immunology) floors since 2016 with open lab and shared space configurations. 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.

Researchers at VCU also 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. Additionally, the School of Medicine 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 the School of Medicine faculty has been growing at an impressive rate.

All of these efforts have tangible benefits for our MSTP students, who can choose a mentor from more than 110 participating faculty representing 17 Ph.D.-granting programs. 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 Ph.D. in Clinical and Translational Sciences with a specialized interdisciplinary concentration in Cancer and Molecular Medicine, the most popular dissertation program among MSTP 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 in the highest quintile of funding from both the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • VCU’s Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health supported by a $104 million gift in 2022 -  brings together a team of extraordinary physicians, nurses, research coordinators and administrators to promote translation of scientific discovery to improve liver-related health by radical innovation and integration of education, research, technology and clinical care.
  • A full list of VCU research-intensive institutes and centers can be found here.

Ph.D. Training Options

MSTP 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, health care policy research and applied research in biomedical engineering and nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Ph.D. Program

Department

School or College

Biochemistry

Biochemistry

School of Medicine

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

College of Engineering

Clinical and Translational Sciences

Interdisciplinary

Institutional

Chemical Biology

Interdisciplinary

College of Humanities and Sciences

Healthcare Policy and Research

Health Behavior and Policy

School of Medicine

Human 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 Research

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

Integrative Life Sciences

Interdisciplinary

Life Sciences

 

Non-Traditional Ph.D. Options

MSTP students Gus White, Hannah Shadowen and Jefferson Abaricia discuss their paths to receiving a Ph.D. in non-traditional fields.

Explore Non-Traditional Ph.D. Options
Non-Traditional Ph.D. Options
MSTP students Gus White, Hannah Shadowen and Jefferson Abaricia discuss their paths to receiving a Ph.D. in non-traditional fields.

Curriculum

The VCU MSTP boasts an integrated curriculum, blending medical school with scientific studies throughout the journey.

  

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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Contact Info

Office Address

VCU School of Medicine
Medical Scientist Training Program
Sanger Hall, Room 1-055
1101 East Marshall Street
Box 980158
Richmond, Virginia 23298-0565
Phone: (804) 828-0673
Fax: (804) 827-1469

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Miranda Cox, MS

Miranda Cox, MS

Program Administrator

Miranda Cox, MS

Miranda Cox, MS

Program Administrator

Medical Scientist Training Program

Phone: (804) 828-0673

Email: Miranda.L.Cox@vcuhealth.org