History of the MD-PhD Program Leadership

A formal MD-PhD program at Dartmouth was founded in 1993 by Harold Swartz, MD PhD, who directed the program between 1993 and 1995. He was succeeded by Constance Brinckerhoff, PhD, who served as Director from 1995 to 2010. In July 2010, Jim Gorham, MD PhD, assumed the role of Director of the MD-PhD Program. From 1995 to 2012, the Program had continuous administrative support from the Operations Director, Alex Thorngren.

History of the MD-PhD Program Structure

The program undergoes frequent self- and external evaluations, and continues to make improvements, with the goal of rendering the best possible MD-PhD training program. The program at Dartmouth developed into its current form in several stages. Prior to 1993, Dartmouth had only an ad hoc track by which medical students could also acquire a PhD degree.

A formal MD-PhD program was begun in 1993 by Dr. Swartz, with the goal of allowing Dartmouth to train physician scientists by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the increasingly strong scientific enterprise emerging at the Geisel School. Between 1993 (when a formal program was initiated) and 2006, the program had a somewhat atypical structure, allowing incoming trainees the option of beginning with either Medical School or Graduate School.

Beginning with the incoming class in 2005, the program at Dartmouth was restructured to conform it to a more conventional MD-PhD structure: incoming students complete their first two years of Medical School (the pre-clinical years; M1 & M2), then undertake their research training (P1 through P4), culminating with a thesis and its defense, and finally return to Medical School to complete their clinical training (M3 & M4). Additional changes to the Program implemented in 2006 include: (1) streamlined curriculum requirements for MD-PhD trainees during their research phase; (2) the implementation of a formal advising structure for MD-PhD trainees; and (3) the establishment of a capstone clerkship (the Clinical Investigation Course) designed specifically for Geisel School MD-PhD students and taken in the final year (M4).

More recent improvements to the curriculum include the implementation of a formal clinical skills refresher course for Research Phase trainees planning their return to M3, as well as a "selective" designed specifically for MD-PhD trainees in M4 and administered by the Department of Medicine, in which MD-PhD trainees participate directly in clinical trials at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC).

We look forward to the positive changes the future will bring as we continually improve the MD-PhD program at Dartmouth.