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Medical Student Research Program


All students at Yale School of Medicine engage in research and are required to write an M.D. thesis during medical school, with the exception of students who have a Ph.D. degree in the biological sciences before matriculation. A wide choice of subjects for research is permitted. Students may choose basic laboratory projects or clinical projects or may select to do research in an array of disciplines including, but not limited to: epidemiological, humanities and medicine (including ethics and the history of medicine), sociology, economics, or education research. Publications in the literature may serve as the source of data for research. Four basic requirements apply to all thesis research projects: (1) the subject chosen must address an important question in medicine; (2) there must be a clear, concise aim that can be addressed by new knowledge generated by the student’s research; (3) data must be collected and analyzed with the most rigorous methods suited to the research question; and (4) the research mentor must be a full-time faculty member at the School of Medicine.

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, including costs of publication of scientific articles. For non-laboratory investigation, the same commitment to guidance and support is expected, e.g. access to data, statistical analysis packages, statistical and methodological support, costs of abstracts and publications, etc. 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.  Medical students may not work jointly on a research project.

The research is presented as a formal bound thesis during the fourth year or graduation year and must fulfill the following minimal requirements (see pages 27 to 29 for details):
a. Title Page
b. Summary (in abstract form)
c. A critical review and citation of the work of previous investigators
d. Valid research design
e. Evidence of mastery of appropriate methodology, including a detailed description of what was done by the student and what was done by others. Please see details on page 27.
f. Presentation and analysis of research data, including figures and tables
g. Conclusions that are supported by the data
h. A literate presentation
i. Complete bibliography with full citations

Before the written report is presented to the Office of Student Research and the Thesis Committee, it must be approved in writing by the student’s advisor and by a Thesis Review Committee and Thesis Chairperson in the department where the work was performed.

The Thesis Committee acting as a Thesis Awards Committee, reads, critiques and ranks all student theses submitted for honors by various departments and votes a score. The highest ranked papers are presented orally at Student Research Day, chaired by the Dean of the School. Most theses are presented as posters at Student Research Day in May which is widely attended by students and faculty.  Fourteen prizes are awarded at graduation for outstanding student research.  Prizes are not announced until graduation.