Program Overview

PORTAL is a strongly mentored, five-year program for medical students designed to accelerate the process through which discoveries made in the laboratory are brought to the patient’s bedside. The program offers a multidisciplinary approach to clinical investigation training, introducing students to the field of clinical/translational research and how it drives the practice of clinical medicine. Participants will be part of a select group of scholars who can integrate clinical medicine and investigation from the very start of their medical education. PORTAL is highly focused on training in analytical methods and clinical study design. Learning is both didactic and hands-on during a mentored research experience. Students who successfully complete the program will be awarded an MD and a Masters in Clinical Research (MSCR).

Program Structure

Students apply to join PORTAL during year one. Course work is taken during years two and the Scholarly Year. Most of the thesis work is completed during the Scholarly Year. Information on coursework for PORTAL can be found at the program website. Please refer to the Curriculum Guide for descriptive information on individual courses offered during a specific term. The curriculum offers rigorous didactic and hands on research training in clinical research methodology, including clinical trial and experimental design, data management, data analysis, research communication skills, e.g., abstract, manuscript, and grant writing, along with oral presentation skills, and how to navigate regulatory requirements. PORTAL also includes a monthly journal club and periodic mentoring sessions with program leadership.

Research and Mentoring

The multiyear commitment to excellence by the student is made possible by strong faculty support, as well as institutional resources. Outstanding faculty members from diverse departments serve as mentors. Students will identify their area of research interest and be matched with an experienced, supportive clinical research mentor. In many cases, students will choose two mentors who represent different, though complementary disciplines, enabling them to have a more interdisciplinary experience.

During the course of the PORTAL program, students will carry out an original research project in an area of their choice. Their original research will form the basis for a thesis. Thesis work will be guided by the faculty mentor and the program directors. Emphasis is placed on presentation of this work in national forums as well as publication in peer-reviewed journals. Time for research is built into the program during the following periods and include, minimally:

  • An 11-month Scholarly Year, following year 3 of medical school

  • Additional time may be arranged during elective periods on an individual basis


Students selected for PORTAL will receive full scholarships to cover the tuition of the MSCR degree. Participants also will receive a stipend during their Scholarly Year to cover living expenses, including health insurance. There is no medical school tuition during the Scholarly Year.

Applying to the PORTAL Program

Students apply to PORTAL in the spring of their first year of medical school. They will submit an application form that allows them to describe their specific reasons for applying to the Mount Sinai MD/MSCR program. Successful applicants will begin the program during their second year at ISMMS. Applicants are expected to have prior clinical or translational research experience. We base all decisions on merit and without discrimination because of race, sex, color, creed, age, national origin, handicap, veteran status, marital status, or sexual orientation. All applicants will be interviewed by the leadership of the PORTAL program, prior to final selection.

PORTAL Thesis Procedure

Successful completion of the MSCR program involves submission of a thesis that is approved by the student’s thesis committee. It is expected that the bulk of the thesis work will be done during the student’s Scholarly Year. Thesis research will earn 8 credits.

Oversight of the student’s progress and thesis research will be the responsibility of the thesis committee consisting of the student’s mentor plus two additional faculty members. The latter will serve as advisors, as well as have the responsibility of approving the thesis. The student may suggest the names of faculty members they think would qualify as committee members, based upon their area of expertise, but the ultimate decision will be that of the MSCR Program Directors.

PORTAL students must complete the existing MSCR approval process, although the timetable, reflected below, is modified. In order for the student to receive his/her/their degree along with the MD at the May graduation, please submit the following documentation:

  • The Research Agreement Form, including an outline of the proposed thesis topic (maximum of 3 pages), by September 15th of Scholarly year.

  • The first draft of thesis by January 15th of M4*. The thesis must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Depositing Your Master’s Thesis Guide. The student’s thesis committee will review the draft and return to the student with any comments and recommendations no later than 4 weeks after receipt of the draft.

  • Please note that a student may submit, for their Master’s Thesis, a first author manuscript either submitted for publication, accepted for publication or published during their training which is reflective of their Master’s Thesis work. In this instance, a statement of purpose, introduction, and discussion regarding the findings and impact of the work needs to be added.

  • The final thesis for review by March 15th of M4. Final theses should be uploaded to the online Master’s Thesis Final Draft Approval form, and will be reviewed by both the mentor and PORTAL leadership.

  • The Master’s Thesis Evaluation report, by March 15th of M4.

  • The thesis to the library by April 15th of M4.

*M4 refers to the final year of medical school and follows the Scholarly Year.

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