Is an MD/PhD program right for me? Advice on becoming a physician-scientist

Mol Biol Cell. 2018 Apr 15;29(8):881-885. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E17-12-0721.


We are living in a golden age of biomedical research in which it is increasingly feasible to translate fundamental discoveries into new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to human illnesses. Inherited diseases are being cured with gene therapy. Cancer cells are being eliminated with less toxic small molecule inhibitors and reengineered T-cells. Direct connections are being made between the central nervous system and prosthetic devices. These efforts are being led by scientists and engineers, some of whom are also physicians. This article is intended to help anyone considering a career as a physician-scientist, but unsure about how best to begin. It is also intended for faculty, staff, and parents who are on the front lines of advising talented students about the options that they have for their future. With this in mind, I have tried to answer common questions about MD/PhD programs, but I have also included information about other paths to becoming a physician who does research.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / education*
  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • United States