M.D./Ph.D. Research Programs

The M.D., Ph.D. Program is designed to train a limited number of highly motivated students for careers as biomedical scientists in clinical and translational research. Students in the program will acquire dual expertise in biomedical research and clinical medicine and will be prepared to conduct and to manage research aimed at the prevention and treatment of human disease. Graduates of the Program will receive a combined M.D., Ph.D. Degree.

The Program is structured so that participants can earn the combined degree in a period of six or seven years. Individual curricular planning will allow the student to take full advantage of the educational opportunities of the University in a comprehensive, integrated and coherent manner. The enriched curriculum will prepare the graduate to function effectively in research, teaching, clinical care and in communication between their colleagues in basic and clinical departments of academic, government or industrial institutions.

Student Learning Objectives

Upon completing the training program students will be able to:

  • Apply advanced knowledge of molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, physiology and pharmacology to basic and translational problems in medicine
  • Use the scientific method to formulate and test hypotheses using appropriate experimental designs
  • Apply a broad array of state of the art techniques to address multidisciplinary research questions
  • Practice ethical conduct of basic and clinical research
  • Apply critical thinking skills in the practice of biomedical science and clinical medicine
  • Work independently as a clinician/scientist in a collaborative environment
  • Create scholarly manuscripts and grant applications that effectively communicate scientific ideas and experimental results

Tracks offered

Ph.D. training is offered in the following tracks of the Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
  • Degree Requirments

    The M.D., Ph.D. Program is centered within the University of Nevada School Of Medicine, Office of Medical Research. Jurisdiction for the Program is jointly shared by the Graduate School of the University of Nevada- Reno and the School of Medicine.

    The M.D. component of the combined degree is obtained through the existing medical curriculum of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and the Ph.D. component through one of the tracks of the interdisciplinary Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program of the University of Nevada, Reno. The following components constitute the Program

    • Course work in the basic medical sciences (Years 1 and 2)
    • Graduate course work (Years 3-4).
    • Research training (Years 3-4)
    • Doctoral qualifying and comprehensive examinations (Year 4)
    • Dissertation (Year 4)
    • Required clinical clerkships (Years 5-6)
    • Clinical electives (Year 6)


    A basic medical science curriculum is provided during the initial two years of the M.D./Ph.D. program. This portion of the Program is required of all M.D. students and consists of integrated blocks covering foundational principles of basic biomedical science, all the physiological systems of the human body, introduction to the practice of medicine and training in clinical skills. The students must pass Step I of the United States Medical Licensing Examination before being admitted to years three through five of the Ph.D. training program.


    Graduate course work. During the third and fourth years of training the student enters the Ph.D. component of the Program. Discussions between the student, the Program Director of the chosen track and the relevant members of the Program Committee determine the area of research specialization. The curriculum of selected graduate courses and ancillary activities such as seminars, colloquia and qualifying examinations is structured to be consistent with the background and goals of the student. At a minimum, the student is expected to successfully complete 20 credit hours at the 700- level with 50% of this to be fulfilled by course work in the area of specialization (e.g., advanced 700-level courses in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, pharmacology or physiology). The student enrolls for a minimum of 24 credits for dissertation research. The remainder of the 72 credit hours required for the Ph.D. degree is derived from the basic science curriculum of the M.D. program taken during the first two years of the program.

    Research Training: The laboratory research experience is accomplished during years three and four of the Program with an optional fifth year to complete training if required. The student's choice of a research preceptor is made with the full support and guidance from the MD,Ph.D. Program Director, examining committee members and directors of the individual graduate program tracks. The performance of the research must be of distinctive merit to allow the student to write and to defend a dissertation.

    Research Facilities: The participating Departments are located in the Manville, Anderson , Savitt, Howard Medical Sciences Buildings and the Center for Molecular Medicine. The research laboratories are equipped with all instrumentation needed to conduct a wide variety of experiments using electrophysiological, molecular, histological, biochemical, physiological, pharmacological and analytical biochemistry methods. Research needs are also supported by core laboratories (genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, imaging, flow cytometry), ALAC accredited animal care facilities, and a medical library.

    Doctoral Qualifying and Comprehensive Exams: Students in the M.D., Ph.D. Program are required to qualify for doctoral student status by satisfactorily completing a grant writing exercise. This grant proposal, which is based on the student's dissertation research, is due on September 1 of the fourth year of the Program. An oral examination on the grant is administered by the student's graduate committee on the grant by September 15. The grant writing exercise is viewed as an important component of the student's education. Highly competitive skills in the formulation and defense of a research plan and its methodology are considered to be essential to the graduate in acquiring support for his or her future research program.

    Dissertation: A dissertation describing the results of the Ph.D. component of the training program must be reviewed and accepted by the examining committee. The dissertation must meet all requirements of the Graduate School and the Molecular Biosciences graduate training programs.


    Students in the M.D., Ph.D. Program begin studies of Clinical medicine at the beginning of their fifth or sixth year in the Program. These areas consist of 4-8 week blocks of study in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Surgery, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a Rural rotation. All medical students are required to take these courses.

    Clinical electives are generally scheduled during the sixth or seventh year of the M.D., Ph.D. Program. These elective courses may be selected from a wide variety of clinical, basic science or research offering and could be taken intramurally or extramurally. The clinical electives are selected to broaden the student's educational experience and to improve their clinical skills in preparation for entry into a medical residency program.


    The Program is designed to be completed in six years, but some students may require or profit from an additional year to extend promising research projects. Students whose backgrounds and/or interests require an unusual amount of course work or whose research is such that graduate training could not be confined to a rigid two-year block may require a third year in the Ph.D. component. A decision regarding the appropriateness of including an additional year into the Program is made by the student's advisory committee and the M.D., Ph.D. Program Director.Graduate School Academic Requirements:

    All graduate students must maintain a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0. If their GPA drops below 3.0, they are either placed on probation or dismissed. Undergraduate courses will not count towards graduate GPA.
    Probation: students whose cumulative graduate GPA falls between 2.31 and 2.99 are automatically placed on academic probation for one semester. If they fail to raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 by the end of one semester, they are dismissed from their graduate program. Thesis, dissertation, S/U graded credits, and transfer credits have no impact on a student's GPA.
    Dismissal: students whose cumulative graduate GPA is 2.30 or lower are dismissed. Dismissed students are no longer enrolled in their graduate program but may take graduate-level courses as a Grad Special: Dismissed students wishing to complete their degree must obtain approval to take graduate-level courses, raise their graduate GPA to at least 3.0, and then re-apply to their graduate program. Any courses taken in an effort to raise their GPA will be included in the graduate special/ transfer credit limitation (9 credits for master's degrees).

  • Timeline for Completion

    Year 1

    • Blocks 1 - 5 - 40 weeks
    • Practice of Medicine - 40 weeks
    • Summer Research - 10 weeks

    Year 2

    • Blocks 6 – 10 - 30 weeks
    • Clinical Reasoning - 18 weeks
    • USMLE Step 1 - 4 weeks

    Year 3

    • Advanced Graduate Courses - 6 units
    • Journal Club - 2 units
    • Seminar- 2 units
    • Dissertation- 12 units

    Year 4

    • Qualifying Exam
    • Advanced Graduate Courses - 6 units
    • Journal Club - 2 units
    • Seminar - 2 units
    • Dissertation- 12 units
    • Dissertation Defense

    Year 5

    • Clinical Rotations- 52 weeks
    • Clinical Reasoning in Medicine - 18 weeks

    Year 6

    • Rural Rotation - 4 weeks
    • Clinical Electives - 32 weeks