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Physician Scientist Training

M.D./Ph.D. dual-degree program

VAIGS partners with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine to offer training in both clinical medicine and biomedical research, resulting in both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. These programs typically span eight years, with four years of Ph.D. research training flanked on each side by two years of medical and clinical education.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

The CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. Program is a joint effort between MSU CHM and Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS). Students admitted to this program will pursue an M.D. degree through CHM while simultaneously pursuing a through VAIGS.

Students enrolled in the combined CHM-VAIGS program receive their preclinical education and training through CHM and their biomedical research education, including coursework, laboratory research, and dissertation research, through VAIGS. They are considered students of both institutions for the duration of their participation in the program. Students receive priority placement at the CHM Grand Rapids campus for the preclinical and clinical training years.

Students spend years one and two completing their CHM preclinical coursework and taking the USMLE Step 1 Exam. Beginning in year three, students will attend VAIGS to complete the Ph.D. portion of their degree. Students will be able to apply their Ph.D. research as two CHM research electives towards their clerkship requirements during the fourth year, decreasing the duration of medical school by eight weeks. Students are expected to complete the Ph.D. portion of the degree by the end of year five and prior to beginning their clinical clerkships.

VAIGS will award the Ph.D. degree when the student completes all of the degree requirements. The student will then return to CHM to complete the final two years of clinical training necessary for the M.D. degree.

Research opportunities
There are several opportunities for research in Grand Rapids through The Department of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine as well as The Department of Obstetics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology.

Financial support
During the preclinical and clinical medical school years, students will pay regular MSU M.D. program tuition. They may apply for competitive fellowships and scholarships both internal and external to CHM.

During the graduate school years, students will receive a package of financial assistance administered through VAIGS. This support, typically directed through a graduate fellowship, will provide a stipend; health, dental, vision  and life insurance; and a full waiver of tuition to VAIGS. Students will be expected to apply for external predoctoral fellowships, which will be submitted and administered through VAIGS and relevant Van Andel Institute (VAI) offices. During the graduate school years, no tuition will be directed or be paid to MSU.

External training grants to support physician-scientist training programs are or may become available from federal, state, or private sources. Applications for such training grants will be administered through MSU CHM. VAIGS will be a cooperating institution on such training grants. Funds supporting students (stipends, benefits, tuition relief, etc.) during their medical school years will be directed to MSU, and funds supporting students during their graduate school years will be directed to VAIGS.

CHM-VAIGS Application Process

Application and eligibility
An applicant must apply for admission to CHM through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) as a Combined Medical Degree/Ph.D. applicant. Concurrently, an application must also be submitted to VAIGS.

If the applicant is deemed eligible for acceptance by both CHM and VAIGS, the applicant will be reviewed by the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. Selection Committee for a final decision. If accepted by the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. Selection Committee, the applicant will be offered a position in the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. program.

Acceptance to the College of Human Medicine M.D. Program is contingent upon acceptance by the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. Program Selection Committee.

Interested applicants should:
Apply to the College of Human Medicine through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) as a Combined Medical Degree/Ph.D. type applicant.

Apply to Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) and take (or retake, if necessary) the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) by the given deadlines.

For optimal consideration, application materials including the AMCAS application, MCAT, letters of evaluation, CHM Secondary Application, and VAIGS Graduate Application should be completed early.

Fees
Applicants must pay the AMCAS Application Fee and the CHM Secondary Application Fee. There is no additional fee for the VAIGS application. The CHM Secondary Application Fee will be waived if the applicant holds an AMCAS Fee Waiver.

Letters of evaluation
All applicants to the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. program are expected to submit a minimum of four letters to CHM through the AMCAS letters service. Applicants should request three letters of recommendation for the M.D./Ph.D. program component from individuals who can attest to the applicant’s qualifications for the M.D./Ph.D. Program, as well as their motivation and ability to conduct research. To address the M.D. component more specifically, applicants should submit at least one letter that reflects their medical/clinical interest and experience and can address personal characteristics consistent with an excellent physician.

VAIGS requires three letters of reference, typically from faculty members who know you and your academic work and, if applicable, who supervised independent study or research. Applicants may submit the same letters to VAIGS that they submitted to AMCAS. Applications will not be reviewed until all letters are received.

Interviews
The goal of the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. program is to interview all applicants by the end of October. Applicants are interviewed separately for each program by members of the respective interview panels. The CHM Office of Admissions schedules the M.D. interview. VAIGS interviews are scheduled through the VAIGS admissions office. Every effort will be made to schedule the interviews for each program on the same day.

During the CHM interview, the applicant will be interviewed by one faculty member and one CHM student, tour the medical school, and have an opportunity to meet with appropriate faculty and current CHM students.

During the VAIGS interview, the applicant will be interviewed by a research faculty, take a tour of the research facilities, and be given the opportunity to meet with appropriate faculty and current M.D./Ph.D. students during their visit.

Notification
Applicants will be notified of acceptance decisions as soon as possible. Admission to the College of Human Medicine M.D. Program is contingent upon acceptance by the CHM-VAIGS M.D./Ph.D. Program Selection Committee.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

Western Michigan Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) and Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) offer an eight-year program leading to both an M.D. and a Ph.D. degree in genetics.

Prerequisite requirements
Applicants for the M.D./Ph.D. dual-degree program must meet all admission requirements and standards of both the medical school for the M.D. degree and VAIGS for the Ph.D. degree. Applicants must take the MCAT but the GRE is not necessary.

Application
Applicants for the M.D./Ph.D. dual-degree program begins with the AMCAS application for medial school admission and should select the M.D./Ph.D. option. They should also contact the medical school’s Director of Admissions to discuss their interest and coordinate the additional application steps. Select applicants will be asked to interview with both WMed and VAIGS on contiguous days.

Program and courses
Dual-degree students will:

  • complete years 1 and 2 of medical school
  • complete the Ph.D. degree, which takes four years (depending on successful completion of the doctoral dissertation)
  • return to WMed for years 3 and 4 of medical school

Students in the M.D./Ph.D dual-degree program complete all courses and clerkships required for the M.D. degree and also complete the biomedical research education including coursework, laboratory rotations and dissertation research within VAIGS.

Cost
Students are responsible for tuition and fees for the M.D. program and are eligible for scholarship assistance. VAIGS provides financial assistance through a graduate fellowship during the Ph.D. degree education that includes a stipend for living expenses, health and life insurance, and a full waiver of tuition for the degree.

Graduation
Students who successfully complete all of the requirements for the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees participate in graduation ceremonies at the medical school for the M.D. degree and at VAIGS for the Ph.D. degree.

Medical Student Summer Research Internship Program

The Medical Student Summer Research Internship Program offered through VAIGS provides opportunities for medical school students (between their first and second year) to engage in biomedical research projects in Van Andel Research Institute laboratories. Applications for this paid internship program are typically due in early February for the following summer. For more information, please email gradschool@vai.org.

Residency-Ph.D. and Fellowship-Ph.D. programs

Van Andel Institute Graduate School and Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners Residency-Ph.D.
The Graduate School and Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners  (GRMEP) have teamed up to provide advanced clinical and research training for physicians who are exceptionally well-fit for careers as basic science and clinical research scholars.

Trainees who have completed medical school can earn a Ph.D. degree in molecular and cellular biology in conjunction with licensure and board eligibility in Internal Medicine or Orthopaedic Surgery. The program complies with the research pathway of the corresponding national boards for those specialties.

For more information or to apply, please call the Graduate School at 616.234.5722 or email registrar@vai.org.

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship—Ph.D. program (with GRMEP and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital)
This program links subspecialty training in pediatric hematology and oncology with research training in genetics. The training program for each participant will include all components of the VAIGS doctoral program, including courses and dissertation research, although the timelines may be adjusted to meet clinical responsibilities of the clinical fellowship. Clinical training and research experience may be intertwined during portions of the training period. Details of the programs combining the VAIGS Ph.D. with medical school or the clinical fellowship and residency training are articulated in memoranda of understanding with the partner organizations. These memoranda are available upon request.

For more information or to apply, please call the Graduate School at 616.234.5722 or email registrar@vai.org.