The MST Program – UCSD Medical Scientist Education Program

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is a multidisciplinary program in medicine and biomedical research. Its mission is to provide students with the breadth and depth of training necessary to excel as academic physicians. The program combines classroom and clinical training at the UCSD School of Medicine with research in a graduate department.

Flexibility is a hallmark of the UCSD MSTP, and each student’s program is individualized. By its nature, medical school training is quite broad, encompassing subjects ranging from biochemistry to cultural anthropology. In contrast, higher education offers a narrower focus and greater depth, both in terms of exposure to current thinking in a specific discipline and in the development and execution of a doctoral dissertation problem . Since 1974, continued funding by the National Institutes of Health has allowed the training of physician-researchers who, because of their versatile and rigorous training, are equipped biomedical investigators. The program culminates in the award of medical (MD) and post-graduate (PhD) degrees, signifying skills in each of the three areas of an academic physician: research, teaching, and clinical care .

Diversified education for a diverse student population

Interns enter UCSD MSTP with a wide range of academic backgrounds and life experiences. There are currently 75 students. The program is committed to recruiting a diverse student body. Out-of-state applicants are considered on equal footing with out-of-state residents. Approximately 8-10 incoming students join the program each year, including underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged interns. All interns receive full support for stipends, tuition and health insurance during all years of the program. Students typically earn medical and doctoral degrees in about eight years. Several career paths are available to graduates, but 90% will obtain additional training in one of the specialty areas of medicine. Our graduates consistently get their first or second choice residency. Over the past 12 years, approximately 90% of graduates have subsequently accepted positions in academic health centers.

A rich research environment

UCSD, located in La Jolla, California, is an unusually strong campus in the biological sciences. The UCSD School of Medicine, the contiguous UCSD General Campus, and adjacent research institutes (the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute, the Burnham Institute) are all easily accessible to interested students. Clinical training and research opportunities are available at many different hospitals, including UC San Diego Medical Center at Hillcrest, UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center, Veterans Administration, Rady Children’s, Naval Medical Center, Scripps Green Hospital and Scripps Mercy Hospital. The San Diego area is home to one of the largest biotech industries in the world. San Diego is an especially fertile location for the medical scientist training program because of its vast resources in basic science, clinical and translational research, and medical practice.