The Baylor College of Medicine Medical Research Pathway was initiated in 2000 by Dr. Brendan Lee, the current director of the program. The Medical Research Pathway is a five-year program encompassing four years of the traditional M.D. training and one year of intensive research training. The goal of the program is to train M.D. graduates in hypotheses driven basic, translational, and clinical research. An underlying premise is that this training will make a better physician whether in primary care or in academic research.
The program occurs in three phases. Students do not have to participate in all phases of the MRP to benefit and participation is elective though all students must be in good academic standing to start the research year (phase 3).
The first phase entails a MRP workshop composed of a series of talks by members of the Medical Research Pathway Faculty Operating Committee. The aim of the talks are to introduce the FOC members' research and to introduce the research ongoing in the FOC member's department. All students can enroll in this workshop by filling out a Medical Research Pathway entry questionnaire. All Medical Research Pathway workshop talks are evaluated by the student with a Speaker evaluation form. The Medical Research Pathway workshop occurs during the first year of traditional M.D. training.
In the second year of M.D. training, the second phase of the MRP program or the match occurs. Based on their experiences in the workshop and their personal interests, Medical Research Pathway students fill out a pre-match questionnaire. Based on this questionnaire and a series of meetings with the Medical Research Pathway director on the student arranges for additional interviews with two to three other faculty who are potential mentors who are able to provide both mentorship and funding during the MRP research year. Based on these interactions, the MRP director and the MRP candidate arrive at a final mentor match in follow-up meetings.
The third phase of the program is the research year which starts Jan. 1 of second or third year of medical school training. Twelve months of research are required to fulfill the requirements of the Medical Research Pathway. The research year includes participation in the Fundamentals in Clinical Investigation Course that is part of the Clinical Scientist Training Program. The Medical Research Pathway student is expected to become a full member of the mentor's research laboratory.
Students must have a research stipend (equivalent to an NSRA pre-doctoral stipend + health insurance if needed) in place either from the mentor or an external funding source (e.g. CPRIT) prior to starting the research year. Students may not take medical school curriculum courses during the research year.
The research year is designed to be a laboratory-based research year in which the MRP student works to complete a hypothesis-driven research project. Clinical research is also encouraged, but purely clinical research experiences are unlikely to be approved unless they are part of a structured existing research training program.
During the research year, the MRP students can audit graduate courses relevant to their research (usually not more than one course per block). These courses are chosen by the MRP student with input from the mentor. For example, a favorite course is "Molecular Methods" which provides a theoretical and practical basis of molecular biology tools.
Evaluations and Feedback
The MRP student meets with the director on a semi-annual basis to evaluate progress. Formal student performance evaluations are requested from the mentor in July and December. MRP students are required to present their research in the James K. Alexander Research Symposium for medical students or in a national or international scientific meeting. At the end of the research year, the student completes an exit questionnaire and their residency match is tracked in their final year of medical training.
Additional Research Opportunities
MRP Students can elect to perform a second year of research as a continuation of the Medical Research Pathway, or they can apply to join either the M.D./M.S. program or the MSTP (M.D./Ph.D.) program. In the M.D./M.S. pathway, students apply formally to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and are appointed in specific accredited programs. They fulfill the course, qualifier examination, and thesis requirements of that program for graduation with a M.S. degree. The M.D./M.S. pathway was established in 2008.
The student who fulfills all MRP requirements of will graduate with Medical Research Pathway acknowledgement upon graduation.
Timeline for Participation
- First year October – Informational meeting on Medical Research Pathway and enrollment in the Medical Research Pathway workshop by completion of enrollment questionnaire
- First year October-June – Medical Research Pathway Workshop – weekly meeting by FOC members on their research and research within their departments
- First year May – Pre-match meetings with director to prepare MRP student to identify a mentor
- Second year June-December – Final match with mentors based on availability of funding
- Twelve months of hypotheses-driven prospective research in laboratory-based program beginning in January. Fundamentals in Clinical Investigations Course beginning in July/August. Completion of exit questionnaire on completion of research year.
- Upon completion of their 12 months of research, student return to medical school curriculum, perform a second year of MRP research, or enter the M.D./M.S. or M.D./Ph.D. pathway
- Complete Residency Match Questionnaire