New Duke MHS degree puts the Modern Physician-Scientist at the Center

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Basic Science Research Training Program Announcement








The Duke Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP) is launching an exciting new Basic Science Research Track (BSRT) developed by the School of Medicine Office of Physician Scientist development (OPSD) for their Masters of Health Sciences (MHS) degree in August of 2020.

The BSRT is customized for physician-scientists at any training level who want to succeed in a range of discovery sciences. The curriculum includes widely applicable course work that prepares investigators to successfully compete for research funding; manage, analyze, and present data; oversee a laboratory; and perform rigorous basic science.

  • Courses may be taken individually or as part of the MHS-degree program
  • Tuition may be paid with training grant or career development award funds
  • The track is 36 credit hours comprised of 18 credits in graded course work and 18 credits of a culminating research project.

Sallie Permar, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, and Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Development, and Rasheed Gbadegesin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and Faculty Director of the OPSD see BSRT as an opportunity that meets a pressing need.

“Physician-scientists leave academic medicine because they do not feel supported,” said Dr. Gbadegesin. “It is our mission to offer that support and to empower clinical investigators at all stages to launch successful research careers. We are ecstatic that there is now a structured program addressing the specific needs of those engaging in basic discovery science”.

Scott Palmer, MD, Professor of Medicine, Immunology, and Population Health, and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine, earned his MHS degree through CRTP and is looking forward to the new BSRT option.

 “CRTP has a track record of training some of Duke University’s best clinical and translational investigators. The BSRT courses build on this excellent foundation and provide new in-depth basic science and career development tools that will enhance the success of any physician-scientist,” said Dr. Palmer. “The new courses were carefully designed to address important unmet needs in basic research training and to enhance the academic career development of all CRTP trainees”.

While the new track is crafted with basic-leaning scientists in mind, many of the courses have been designed to fit both clinical and basic investigators and can even be taken as stand-alone training to be added to a degree later on.

One such course, “Project and Proposal Development: A Stepwise Approach” (CRP 275), starts in August 2020. In this new course, Michael Gunn, MD, Professor of Medicine and Immunology, and Andrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor of Medicine and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology use a flipped classroom approach to teach scientists at all career stages how to develop fundable grant proposals from concept to submission. 

“We present a stepwise approach and structured exercises that guide you through all aspects of research project development, from defining a problem of importance, to developing an experimental plan, to writing a compelling NIH-style grant application,” said Dr. Gunn. “Each student will develop their own research project and proposal using best practices, proven approaches, and continuous feedback from peers and instructors”.

The Research Project and Proposal Development course starts August 31, 2020 and is open for enrollment. It constitutes two credit hours and has no prerequisites.

Other new courses within BSRT that apply to clinical, basic, and translational investigators are “CRP 278: Machine Learning for Health” (Fall 2020), “CRP 279: Scientific Communication” (Spring 2021), and “CRP 277: Research Professional Development” (Spring 2021).

The BSRT also features a new course tailored to basic science research, “CRP 276: Statistical Methodology for Basic Research” (Spring 2021).

Each BSRT course can be taken as stand-alone training outside of the degree track, with tuition payable through training grant or career development grant funds.

Questions about the new courses or the BSRT MHS track can be directed to Gail Ladd, program coordinator, at