Medical Research Scholars Program

Predoctoral Training at the Interface of Biology and Medicine

The Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) at Yale University bridges barriers between traditional predoctoral and medical training by providing Yale Ph.D. students with both medically oriented coursework and a mentored clinical experience. The coursework provides a grounding in biomedicine, and the clinical experience enables students to interact with patients to learn firsthand about disease symptoms, treatment options, and the limitations of current therapies. This combination of medical knowledge and face-to-face interaction with patients and their doctors provides a new perspective to Ph.D. students and enhances the rigorous training in basic science already provided within the BBS Program. Upon completion of their training, MRSP graduates will be capable of working much more closely with physicians and physician-scientists and to independently perform clinically relevant basic research. Funding for the creation of the MRSP was provided by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is now supported by the Molecular Medicine Training Grant (T32GM100884) funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Program Eligibility

The MRSP is open only to students who have already been accepted into the BBS Program, and an application is required. Eligible students will be invited to apply to the MRSP program and will be provided with the application details via e-mail. Approximately five first year students are enrolled each year and remain in the program for three years. They still remain in their BBS Tracks or Departments but  participate in the additional MRSP curriculum.

The Curriculum

The MRSP curriculum consists of four classroom courses that focus first on normal human physiology and organ-based cell biology, followed by human pathobiology and then an introduction to drug discovery, validation and clinical trials (see table below). Some of these classes will be open to all BBS students, at the discretion of the course directors. The centerpiece of the MRSP is a two-year Mentored Clinical Experience that takes place during years two and three of the program and provides students with patient contact. Exposure to patients and to the practice of medicine will enable graduate students to work more confidently at the interface of research and medicine and facilitate future collaborations with clinical researchers. The Mentored Clinical Experience is open only to students formally enrolled as Medical Research Scholars.

Year 1

Physiological Systems
M. Saltzman
Spring Systems Cell Biology A. Vignery
Intro to Biostatistics
J. Dziura, C. Brandt

Year 2

Term Course Directors

Pathobiology-choice of #1 or #2 below:
Fall    1) Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease N. Wajapeyee
Fall & Spring    2) Medical Physiology Case Conference E. Boulpaep
Spring Topics in Human Investigation J. Craft, K. Anderson
Fall & Spring Mentored Clinical Experience E. Herzog, M. Caplan

Year 3

Term Course Directors
Fall & Spring Mentored Clinical Experience E. Herzog, M. Caplan
Fall Medical Physiology Case Conference E. Boulpaep
MRSP Curriculum Descriptions

Comprehensive descriptions of the above courses are available in Word by clicking here.

Program Leadership

The MRSP has two co-Directors, Michael Nitabach, Ph.D., J.D. and Anthony Koleske, Ph.D. Erica Herzog, M.D., Ph.D. and Michael Caplan, M.D., Ph.D. are Associate Directors. The administrative liaison for the MRSP is Bonnie Ellis, Student Services Officer for the BBS Program. The MRSP also has a core leadership team that includes the above individuals and John Alvaro, Karen Anderson, David Stern, Joe Craft, and Fred Gorelick.

Student Selection Process

The application deadline will be in mid-May. The MRSP application, along with the student’s Application for Admission to the Yale Graduate School, which was submitted for entry into the BBS Program, are reviewed by members of the MRSP core leadership team. Selection is based largely on the applicant’s responses on the MRSP application as well as on the applicant’s potential for successfully handling the demands of the MRSP curriculum on top of their regular BBS Track coursework and lab rotations. If necessary, students may be interviewed.

"My inspiration and enthusiasm for science derive from a long-standing curiosity of the brain’s influence in setting crucial biological rhythms and orchestrating the sophisticated cognitive functions that characterize the human species. My interest in biomedical research, however, was primarily inspired by my desires to pursue a career that aims to enhance people’s quality of life. Yale’s Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) is an extraordinary and unique educational opportunity that challenges us to participate in the exceptional endeavor to bridge the gap between scientists and clinicians. The mentored clinical experience enables me to interact with clinicians and patients, and through the extensive exposure to medically focused coursework and clinical environments, I will gain the knowledge and experience to pursue translational questions with a unique and creative perspective. Courses such as the Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease and Medical Physiology Case Conference are examples of experiences not offered by other graduate programs, where the perspective and focus is on a holistic understanding of human disease, rather than a specialized emphasis on its components. Although rigorous and demanding, I am eager and motivated to apply the combination of medically relevant coursework and mentored clinical experiences so that I can effectively work with clinicians in the future to achieve my career goals." 

Aneysis Gonzalez 
Medical Research Scholars Program 
Neuroscience Track 

Photo Courtesy of Folasade Kammen 

MRSP Application Box

Email address

Application deadline

The next application deadline will be in May of 2019.

Eligible students will be invited to apply via e-mail in April.

Please direct all questions related to the application process to Bonnie Ellis.

For questions related to the Program and the curriculum, please contact John Alvaro.

2017-18 Medical Research Scholars

From Left to Right:

Erica Herzog, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Director, MRSP Program, Jessica Shaklee, MMPP Track, Alexander Koo, MMPP Track, Ian Gonzalez, MCGD Track, Oscar Chavez Ibanez, MCGD Track, Caroline Focht, BBSB Track, Noa Golan, Neuroscience Track, Erin DeNardo, MCGD Track