The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison values diversity and provides a broad array of research opportunities that span the frontiers of biomedical and health sciences. Our goal is to produce physician-scientists who will make major contributions to the understanding and improvement of human health.

A longstanding core philosophy of the Medical Scientist Training Program is that the rigor and caliber of both the MD and PhD components should be equivalent to those of single-degree candidates. We believe that such training optimizes the chance for a productive career as an independent physician-investigator.

The program, drawing from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the UW Graduate School, works to ensure that students take full advantage of the remarkable resources and opportunities present at UW-Madison for both medical education and graduate research training.

A second core philosophy of the UW-Madison MSTP is that some of the most valuable learning will be from other students. Thus, we aim for a diversity of research interests among our students that approaches the diversity that is present in an academic medical center, and we provide multiple venues for students to interact.

A third core philosophy is that all our graduates will be doing translational research, albeit to variable degrees. Priority is given to the acquisition of research skills and development of knowledge that place the student at the forefront of her or his research field.

History of the UW-Madison Medical Scientist Training Program 

The integrated MD-PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was established in 1986. Classes of one to four students matriculated each year through 1996. These students were attracted by research opportunities at UW-Madison. They performed research with great dedication, wrote substantial dissertations and all graduated with dual degrees.

In 1997, we submitted a successful application for National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Scientist Training Program funding. The NIH grant has been renewed three times, with approvals for increases in funding in 2005 and 2010. Now, our program has achieved a steady state with acceptance and graduation of eight to 10 students per year and a current program size of approximately 80. The average time to graduation (for the last three graduating classes) is 8.4 years.

The number of applicants has increased to about 330, allowing recruitment of classes with diverse skills and backgrounds. We accept an average of eight to 10 new students per year. Our graduates have moved on to conduct independent biomedical research or are on track (in residencies or fellowships) to become independent investigators.