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M.D. with Distinction in Research Program Guidelines

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  • Objective: To provide training and experience for medical students with a special interest in research.
  • Administration: The program will be administered by a director, chosen by the Dean of the Medical School.
  • Definition of research: The research can be either basic or clinical. A project may consist of original: 1) laboratory experiments, or 2) prospective or retrospective clinical studies. Original research is defined as developing new information. Studies based solely upon literature review are not acceptable.
  • Procedure for entering the program:
    1. A medical student should identify an advisor who is willing to provide guidance, lab space, resources, and financial support for the conduct and reporting of the research. A project should be mutually agreed upon between student and advisor.
    2. The student, with the advisor’s assistance, must define the project by submitting a brief (e.g., 3-5 pages) written Research Proposal to the director of the program for approval. The proposal should include: rationale and hypothesis, background literature review, investigative design (including methods and statistical plan), and expected significance.
    3. To enter and remain in the program, a student must be in good academic standing, defined as having passing grades in all courses, clerkships, and USMLE exams. If a student withdraws from the program due to academic deficiencies, s/he may petition the director to be re-instated once the deficiencies are remedied.
  • Criteria for approval of the project:
    1. A defined hypothesis must be clearly presented.
    2. The proposed methodology must be appropriate for the conduct and completion of the project.
    3. The student must be individually responsible for the project.
    4. The project must be significant to the advancement of scientific knowledge.
    5. The project should be of sufficient caliber for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (although publication is not required for award of the MDDR).
    6. The student must have the time and access to the resources necessary to complete the project.
  • Financial considerations:
    1. The advisor is responsible for covering the costs of the study.
    2. Participation in the program is voluntary; a stipend may not be available.
  • Monitoring of progress: Periodic progress reports will be required, at the discretion of the director of the program. The student should meet regularly with their Advisory Committee to update them on progress of the project as well as to seek guidance and critical feedback.
  • Evaluation of the completed program:
    1. General procedure: To qualify for the M.D. with Distinction in Research, the following must occur: 1) the advisor must accept the student into their lab or project to pursue the MDDR project; 2) the student must meet periodically (at least 3 times) with their research committee to provide progress updates and receive critical feedback; 3) A polished manuscript (next section) must be distributed to committee members no less than 10 days prior to the defense date; 4) the student must successfully defend the project orally in front of the research committee; 5) a public presentation (poster or talk) must be given to a body of peers at a local, regional, or national scientific meeting (before or after the oral defense); 6) the advisor, MDDR Program Director, and CMS Dean must all give their approval, indicating successful completion of all requirements.
    2. The paper: At least 10 days prior to the oral defense, the student must submit to their committee a solo-author manuscript documenting the research. As stated above, the project should consist of individual contributions by the student and the final paper should focus on the student’s work, and not an overall team effort. The paper should be formatting as a scientific journal article (including: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, references, figures and/or tables with legends). Although the results of the study should be “publishable”, it is not necessary that the project be published for the student to qualify for the award. However, it is expected that the advisor will pursue publication of the work.
    3. The research committee: The committee will consist of three members of the Chicago Medical School faculty who are chosen by the director in consultation with the advisor, but are independent of the advisor. The committee reports to the director, who will choose one of the members to serve as chairman. The director will be an ex-officio member of the committee.
  • Credit
    1. Upon successful completion of the program, the student will receive a certificate indicating that the MD degree was earned with Distinction in Research. The certificate will be presented at the Awards Day ceremony.
    2. This distinction will appear on the student’s transcript and in the graduation program, but will not appear on the diploma.
    3. Elective credit may be available for the work.

Sequence of Events

  1. Submit application and research proposal to the Director of the Program.
  2. Acceptance into the program by the Director.
  3. Formation of an Advisory Committee.
  4. Formal presentation of the research proposal to the Advisory Committee.
  5. Periodic meetings with the Advisory Committee to report progress.
  6. Formal presentation of the research at a scientific meeting (local, regional, or national) to a “Body of Peers”.
  7. Completed manuscript or “Research Report” submitted to the Advisory Committee at least 10 days prior to oral defense.
  8. Defend research before the Advisory Committee; performance during the entire program is evaluated by the Advisory Committee and the Director of the Program.
  9. The decision of the Advisory Committee and the Director of the Program is forwarded to the Dean of the Medical School for final approval.