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Certificate in Leadership and Research Management for Physician Scientists

One part of the Yale MD-PhD Program’s mission is to develop skills in our trainees that are associated with success in a broad range of physician-scientist research careers through experiential learning. The Certificate in Leadership and Research Management for Physician Scientists was developed to provide formal training in the skills necessary for effective leadership and management of research and clinical teams. We realize that many of these skills also help our students during their MD and PhD training period, and therefore think it is critical that our students learn and practice these skills early in training. Although many of our students already engage in some of these training and experiential activities, the Certificate allow us to evaluate and recognize their mastery of these specific skills.

The optional modules will be offered every other year, allowing students to complete the workshops during their MD-PhD training period. Module 1/Mentoring will be offered in late spring/early summer and should be taken by students prior to the experience of mentoring a junior trainee. Module 2/Proposal Development will be offered in the fall and should be taken by students in Year 3, when they are also qualifying. Module 3/Teaching should be taken by students prior to their TF service. Students will also be required to complete at least one of the four “optional” modules during the course of their training. Each module includes an experiential “project” that must be completed as part of the certificate program. Students who complete all seven modules will receive a Certificate in Leadership and Research Management.

Module 1: Mentoring (Required)

Objective: To train MD-PhD students in effective mentoring practices that will inform their mentoring of near- peer students, improve their ability to “mentor-up”, and provide a foundation for further training in mentorship.

  • Topic 1: Speaking about bias & inequity.
  • Topic 2: Giving culturally competent advice and feedback.
  • Topic 3: Goal setting and accountability in a Mentor-Mentee relationship.
  • Topic 4: The language of recommendations: awareness of microaggressions and bias.
  • Project (Required): Each student will complete a formal mentoring experience, by serving as a BioMed SURF Peer Mentor, a PASS (“Peer Advising by Senior Students”) mentor, as an MRM (“Mentoring in Research and Medicine”) mentor for Yale college undergraduates specifically interested in pursuing dual-degrees through MD-PhD programs, by formally mentoring a Yale undergraduate STARS student, or by mentoring an undergraduate student in their laboratory.

Module 2: Proposal Development (Required)

Objective: To learn how to develop a well-reasoned scientific proposal based on a rigorous scientific premise, and to apply these lessons to preparing a thesis prospectus and a fellowship application.

  • Topic 1: How to identify funding opportunities. Strategies for identifying sources of funding for research projects and fellowships.
  • Topic 2: Developing Specific Aims: How to Translate a Big Idea into a Testable Hypothesis
  • Topic 3: Rigor & Reproducibility in Research Proposals: Building a Project on a Solid Foundation. Explorations of NIH guidance on addressing rigor & reproducibility in grant proposals (
  • Topic 4: Developing a Training Plan: Identifying What You Need to Accomplish Your Goals.
  • Topic 5: Biosketches and CVs: How to Build a Scientific Credential for All Occasions.
  • Project (Required). Each student will use this course to prepare a fellowship application and/or a thesis prospectus. The elements of rigor and reproducibility and the proposed training plan will be evaluated as part of the qualifying exam/ thesis prospectus review if the student does not submit a F30 or F31 application.

Module 3: Teaching (Required)

Objective: This module is based on resources of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning and provides required and optional training for teaching fellows.

  • Topic 1: Teaching at Yale Day (Sciences or Humanities).
  • Topic 2: Fundamentals of Teaching / Fundamentals of Inclusive Teaching
  • Project (Required): Each student will complete one term as a teaching fellow.

Module 4: Anti-Racism and Inclusivity (Required)

Objective: Equip MD-PhD students with the knowledge and tools to address racism, bias, and discrimination in their research and clinical practice.

  • Topic 1: Historical Legacy of Race in Science and Medicine
  • Topic 2: Racism and Population Health Equity: Research Methods and Frameworks
  • Topic 3: Intersectionality
  • Topic 4: Disability Inequities
  • Topic 5: Microaggressions
  • Topic 6: How to be an Ally
  • Topic 7: Bias, Discrimination, and Power in Organizations: Why Groups Matter
  • Project (Required): Each student will complete a written assignment on their reflections about how the concepts learned during this course can be applied to their own research and clinical practice, now and in the future. Students will also create one PowerPoint slide outlining the relevance of the course topics to their thesis work and/or clinical interests that can be incorporated into future scientific presentations. Students will present their slide in 2 minutes or less to the class during the last week of the course.

Module 5: Communication (Optional)

Objective: To teach MD-PhDs to communicate about themselves and their work to different audiences and through different media.

  • Topic 1: How to Create a Productive and Engaging Writing Practice.
  • Topic 2: Pitching your research: short talks to different audiences.
  • Topic 3: Selling yourself: the art of graceful self-promotion.
  • Topic 4: Media: beyond the written word.
  • Topic 5: Social Media: Pros and Cons of an Online Presence.
  • Project (Required): Students will be required to develop and present a novel communication about themselves or their science. This could be anything from a research pitch for an “Innovation Summit” to a podcast about their thesis research or their path to MD-PhD training. Materials developed will be made available (through the MD-PhD website) to inform the broader public use about physician-scientist training and research

Module 6: Leadership & Teamwork (Optional)

Objective: To give MD-PhD students skills to work within and manage teams effectively.

  • Topic 1: Negotiation Skills & Conflict Resolution.
  • Topic 2: Giving and Receiving Feedback.
  • Topic 3: Developing a Leadership Style.
  • Topic 4: Promoting Successful Teams.
  • Topic 5: Managing Differences: a Discussion of Types.
  • Project (Required): At the start of the module, each student will identify a problematic dynamic within a team that they lead or belong to. At the end of the module, each student will prepare a plan for addressing and resolving the problem. The project will require the student to implement the plan and report on outcomes over the subsequent academic term.

Module 7: Self-Management

Objective: This module focuses on topics related to focus, agency and authenticity in work and life. A project must be selected and completed, but can be chosen from the four options listed based on each student’s interests and priorities.

  • Topic 1: Focus: Managing time and attention.
  • Topic 2: The Four-Way Win: Work/Life Integration Strategies.
  • Topic 3: Developing and Strengthening Resilience/ Dealing with Rejection.
  • Topic 4: Perfect vs Good Enough: Directing your energy thoughtfully and effectively.
  • Topic 5: Life-long learning: turning difficulty into opportunity.

Module 8: Nuts & Bolts of Research Management

Objective: To introduce students to practical aspects of setting up and staffing a research enterprise. Recommended general texts include “Making the Right Moves” and “At the Helm: Leading Your Laboratory” CSHL Press.

  • Topic 1: Budget development.
  • Topic 2: Hiring and personnel management.
  • Topic 3: Translating Discoveries into Action.
  • Topic 4: Data Integrity and Security
  • Topic 5: Regulatory compliance: hurdles facing a new PI.