The presentation of a dissertation has been one of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Yale for over a century. Initially, case reports and reviews of literature predominated, but as the scientific method found its place in medicine, the faculty has required that dissertations presented be based on original investigation either in the laboratory or in the clinic. This experience is considered an important and essential phase of a curriculum which is designed to promote the development of critical judgment, habits of self-education and imagination, as well as the acquisition of knowledge and research skills.
The first evidence that the thesis or dissertation was considered a requirement for the degree of Doctor of Medicine is in a statement in the catalog from 1839, which in part reads, "...the candidate must present a dissertation on some subject connected with the medical sciences." This requirement remains in effect to the present time, and is enthusiastically endorsed by the faculty as an important component of the "Yale System" of general medical education. The creative discipline required to carry out a project and prepare a thesis enables each student to become a physician-scholar, whether the ultimate objective is clinical practice, research, teaching, or administration. Yale hopes to produce physicians who can evaluate data quickly and critically as they must do throughout their professional careers. The M.D. thesis at Yale University teaches a student how to understand the scientific method from the inside, how to design an hypothesis, how to collect and evaluate data and communicate the knowledge to others, and how to think scientifically and critically for the rest of his/her professional life. To this day, Yale University School of Medicine has carried on the tradition of required medical student research. This tradition is a hallmark of the Yale system of medical education.
Student Research & the M.D. Thesis
All students at Yale University School of Medicine engage in research during medical school, with the exception of students who have a Ph.D. degree before matriculation. A wide choice of subjects for research is permitted. Students may choose basic laboratory projects or may investigate clinical, epidemiologic or sociologic (including medicine and humanities) topics. Publications in the literature may serve as the source of data for research. One basic requirement applies to all projects: there must be a specific hypothesis that can be supported or rejected by new data that are generated by the student. Data must be subjected to statistical analysis and results should either confirm or reject the original hypothesis.
A close working relationship between the student and faculty research mentor is a major goal of this program and is strongly encouraged. When laboratory research is performed, it is the responsibility of the faculty advisor to provide all necessary space, equipment and supplies. If the project is concerned with clinical or epidemiological investigation, the same commitment to guidance and support is expected. Weekly conferences between student and advisor are encouraged during the course of the research. The research must be designed and specifically performed by the student with the advice of the faculty mentor. Students may not work jointly on a research project.
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM) was founded in 1928 under the initiative of Dean of the Medical School as a place for Yale medical students to publish their original research. The Journal became a training ground for medical students, later graduate students, and faculty to familiarize themselves with the inner workings of a scientific journal.
YJBM is an internationally-distributed, rigorously peer-reviewed and PubMed-indexed journal that has a long history of publishing landmark articles including pieces from philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and physicians such as Harvey Cushing, Ernst Cassirer, Rene Dubos, Edward Kennedy, Donald Seldin, Franklin Epstein, Jack Strominger, Dorothy Horstmann, Ira Mellman, John R. Paul, and Albert Sabin.
YJBM is an open-access Journal dedicated to the publication of original research articles, scientific reviews, articles on medical history, personal perspectives on medicine, educational scholarship, policy analyses, case reports, and symposia related to biology and medicine. The Journal is published quarterly and aims to publish articles of interest to both physicians and scientists. Our Editorial Board is composed of a unique mix of medical students, nursing students, PA students, and graduate students from nearly all of the tracks in the biological and biomedical sciences.
Each September, YJBM publishes the abstracts of award-winning Yale medical student theses. We strongly encourage medical students who are doing research to consider submitting review articles or original research, with the permission of or in collaboration with their faculty advisors. To learn more about the Journal or to submit a manuscript please visit our website: https://medicine.yale.edu/yjbm/