Academic Advisor

The MSTP leadership aims to provide holistic support and enrichment in formal and an informal capacity for the duration of a student’s time in the Program. Also available to students are the Physician-Scientist Career Advisors, and peer networks, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Well-Being and Resilience.

Physician Scientist Career Advisors are individuals who have completed training as MDs and MD/PhDs who are engaged in physician scientist careers and can provide trainees with guidance about the experiences as a physician scientist. Students are invited to contact these individuals at various states during their trainees to see advice or guidance in career development.

MD/PhD Individual Development Plan (IDP)


The Individual Development Plan is an instrument that is intended for MD/PhD students to track their progress through the program, to consider their goals and career development, and to provide information to the MSTP leadership to help advise through various phases of the program. The IDP will be completed annually and due on March 1 of each year. It is an electronic form that uses branched logic to tailor the questions and guide to the phase of the program. Upon completion of the form, students will receive a report which summarizes their answers and can be shared with the advisor/mentors of their choosing.

How to prepare to complete the IDP

Students should think about their current stage in training and their goals for advancing to the next phases, thoughts for the upcoming year, and long term goals. This is a tool to help students identify skills, mentors, and approaches to help them accomplish their goals. This tool can be used to help students in any way that they think it can be best leveraged; this includes discussion with the mentor, advisor, or other designated individuals with whom they consult for academic and professional growth. The information entered into the IDP will be populated into a report that will be returned to the student in a report that can be shared for discussion.

Selecting a research mentor

The choice of a dissertation advisor and MTA is a major focus of the first two years of the Program. The second year culminates with the student being accepted into the laboratory of a Graduate Faculty member for pursuit of the dissertation work. Faculty mentors of rotation students are urged to present a realistic picture of the tone of the laboratory, the nature of the ongoing projects, how work is assigned or monitored, and any general history or policies with respect to meetings, publications/authorship, weekly journal clubs and laboratory meetings, and direct contact to be expected with the laboratory leader. A choice of dissertation advisor is usually, but not always, consonant with the MTA choice.

By March 1 in the second year/ fourth semester in the MD/PhD program, each student is encouraged to submit the Dissertation Advisor/MTA Declaration Form. However, the deadline for submission is June 30. At this time, the student must also select at least three members for an Advisory Committee. Committee members should be selected because of their ability to provide scientific and/or technical support for the dissertation project. Advisory Committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty. Two Advisory Committee members are experts in the area of the student’s research; a third member must be from a related field but need not be expert in the student’s area of research. MD/PhD students are encouraged to add a clinical/translational (C/T) investigator, who need not be a member of the Graduate Faculty, to their Advisory Committee to provide feedback about the C/T impact of their research. The Dissertation Advisor/MTA Declaration form should be submitted to the Graduate School Office with all the required signatures as soon as possible, but no later than June 30.

Please refer to the PhD Chapter for information on changing dissertation advisors, guidelines for when an advisor relocates.

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