The Third Year Scholarly Experience

Collage of research-associated stock photos

The Third Year Scholarly Experience is unique to each student, enabling MS3s to complement their comprehensive medical education with a deep dive into their individual interests. The academic diversity of the Third Year at Duke can be seen in these examples of ongoing MS3 projects and pursuits:

Basic/Translational Research

“I am working in an orthopaedic lab doing a variety of basic science projects with mouse and pig animal models. There are opportunities to learn a variety of skills and work on multiple projects/manuscripts.” -Michael B.

“I am in a basic science lab at the Eye-Center, studying glaucoma. I’m in lab performing perfusion experiments on mouse eyes, immunohistochemistry, and image analysis.” -Todd F.

“I’m conducting basic science research in Pediatric Neurology. My work focuses on Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood and involves a lot of behavioral testing with mouse models, immunohistochemistry, and microscopy.” -Keri W.

“I work in a translational lab to modify the P50 of red blood cells. I have been using a molecule that crosses the RBC membrane and shifts the P50 to the right in order to increase tissue oxygenation. This work is being used for proof of concept and is going to be used in an upcoming clinical trial. I have been working on methods to increase the shelf life of packed red blood cell units.” -Brooke E.

“I’m studying the retinal microvascular network in persons with neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, etc. I also work on clinical retina research in retinal vascular disease and endophthalmitis.” -Cason R.

“I've spent my third year studying metastatic osteosarcoma. I've been studying the effect of a novel chemotherapeutic, which packages niclosamide in a way that delivers it more effectively to cancer in the body. This year I looked at its effect on in-vitro cells grown in a way that is meant to represent a cluster of metastatic disease, looked at its effect on the bioenergetics of the cell's mitochondria, and learned how to create a metastatic mouse model.” -Mark C.

“My third year research is focused on various aspects of the care of patients with metastatic cancer to the spine. In a basic science realm, it is focused on the molecular mechanisms and genetic underpinnings of metastases of hormonal cancers (breast, prostate) to the CNS. On the clinical side, I am interested in the intersection of care for these patients with palliative care.” -Meghan P.

Clinical Research

“I do clinical research with Dr. Tom Leblanc in the area of palliative care and the patient experience in the Duke Cancer Institute. I also teach CSF1 and CDHD, which I really love doing. In addition, I have been involved with this year's Student Faculty Show and am training for a half marathon.” -Jordan H.

“I’m conducting clinical research, comparing new 3D ultrasound scans of carotid arteries to standard CTAs.” -Elena D.

“I'm doing clinical research in Rheumatology with Dr. Megan Clowse, specifically looking at the role of pregnancy planning and readiness in systemic lupus erythematous pregnancy outcomes. I am additionally working on another project looking at pregnancy outcomes in patients with autoimmune interstitial lung disease.” -Aardra R.

“My main third year project is working on clinical gynecologic oncology projects. I have been working on a cost-effectiveness analysis for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in cancer patients, a discrete choice experiment to elicit risk reduction preferences in patients with BRCA1/2 mutations, and several quality improvement projects.” -Emma R.

“I have spent my third year working a variety of clinical research projects within mostly adult reconstruction/total joint reconstruction in the department of Orthopaedics. These are largely retrospective reviews with some prospective studies on clinical outcomes with respect to specific types of implants, medical comorbidities, and age.” -Christine W.

“I'm conducting three projects about multiple sclerosis. One project is studying the use of serum biomarkers to monitor disease activity, another is using single-cell analysis to understand which patients will respond to certain treatments, and the last is a more clinical project looking at quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis.” -James G.

“In my first research year, I worked in a neurosurgery outcomes research group. I investigated the healthcare costs and utilization of chronic low back pain and trends in opioid use before and after treatments for chronic pain. I also did an optional research year, in which I continued my work from the previous year and worked in a global neurosurgery group. I am currently investigating neurosurgical decision-making and ethics in the treatment of traumatic brain injury.” -Charis S.

“My thesis project is a retrospective cohort study that aims to describe the incidence of and variation in Emergency Department revisits among patients with kidney stones based on patient- and area-level covariates (i.e. race, primary care provider density). I am also building a prospective database for a different project in clinical urology and writing manuscripts for several Quality Improvement projects.” -Josh H.

“I’m conducting clinical research with the division of urology. I also spend a lot of time teaching in CSF1 and with HEY Durham.” -Brian K.

“I am doing research in the Duke Eye Center, working with Dr. Cynthia Toth to apply advanced imaging techniques to eye disease in premature infants. I am planning on doing a second third year, and will be getting a Master's of Health Science through the Duke Clinical Research Training Program!” -Julia B.

Dual Degree

“I’m balancing an MD/MBA dual degree with research.” -Lefko C.

“I am spending my third year(s) pursuing a Master's in Engineering here at Duke. Additionally I am spending time working on projects for NASA as well as some large animal studies with various cardiac surgeons. Aside from academics I have found time to produce the Student Faculty Show, train for an Ironman, as well as engage in several volunteer activities.” -Dan C.

“I'm part of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture fellowship at Duke Divinity School. While I'm taking 'core classes' to fulfill the Master of Theological Studies (a two-year program), I'm also fortunate to pursue courses like Asian American Theology, which will help me write a thesis on mental health, shame, and stigma among Chinese American Christians. Being part of both the medical and divinity school communities has been a huge gift!” -Jennifer T.

“While enrolled in the 2-year CRTP masters program, I've been conducting research in the Neuro ICU mainly around seizure detection and prevention in the Neuro ICU. I had one main two-year prospective project with many other, mostly retrospective, side projects.” -Safa K.

“I'm working towards a master's degree in clinical research (MHS) through the Clinical Research Training Program. I spent the last two years in a monkey lab to study sensitization in transplantation as well as in a clinical research group to conduct large database studies in transplantation. The best part of my third year was adopting a rescue pup!” -Ashley C.

“I'm starting my PhD in Biomedical Engineering! This has involved taking classes like "Computational Neuroengneering" while also doing rotations in various labs.” -Andreas S.

“I am spending two years doing research while pursuing a Masters in clinical research through the Duke Clinical Research Training Program. My research consists of both clinical and basic science projects in abdominal and cardiothoracic transplantation. Across all projects, my work focuses on access to and outcomes after transplantation.” -Sammy H.

“I am conducting research with the REACH Equity center on the racial differences in the patient-provider relationship and outcomes in Type II Diabetes. I am also participating in the Clinical Research Training Program for a masters degree in clinical research.” -Hadley R.

Study Abroad/Global Health

“I spent my third year in Singapore; my mentor is a dermatologist. I worked with an existing data set and performed statistical analyses to determine if an admission delay of five or more days to a specialized care unit impacts outcomes in patients with Steven's Johnson Syndrome or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis.” -Abby C.

“I'm working with the Global Health Innovation Center/Innovations in Healthcare investigating ways to support health innovation in lower and middle-income countries. We work directly with global health innovators and with multinational funding organizations to provide guidance and direction on the best paths of growth and scale.” -Pratik D.

The narratives above provide a glimpse into the diversity of the third year experience, but they don’t fully represent the breadth of third year options. The array of available Third Year Study Programs and Dual Degree options further demonstrate the customizability of the Third Year Scholarly Experience.

Third Year Study Programs

  • Anesthesiology, Surgery, and Environmental Physiology
  • Behavioral Neurosciences
  • Biomedical Engineering and Surgery
  • Cardiovascular
  • Clinical Research
  • Epidemiology and Public Health and other Dual Degrees
  • Global Health
  • Human Genetics and Genomics
  • Medical Humanities
  • Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neurosciences
  • Ophthalmology and Visual Science
  • Primary Care Leadership Track
  • Pathology
  • Radiology, Radiation Oncology, and Medical Physics

Dual Degree Options

  • MD/JD (Juris Doctor)
  • MD/MALS (Master of Art in Liberal Studies)
  • MD/MBA (Master of Business Administration)
  • CRTP (Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Research)
  • MD/MMCi (Master of Management of Clinical Informatics)
  • MD/MPP (Master of Public Policy)
  • MD/MA (Master in Bioethics and Science Policy)
  • MD/MPH (Master of Public Health)
  • MDEng (Master of Engineering)

Learn more about Study Programs, Dual Degree and Study Away.
Learn more about medical student research at Duke.