Vandy Eyes Big Expansion for Elite Medical Program

Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine is looking to double the size of its program for elite physician scientists. Only a few dozen universities get money from the National Institutes of Health to fund such programs, which can take eight years to finish.

For med students it’s the top of the food chain, called an MD/PhD – not one, but two terminal degrees. Among schools, the players tend to have overly familiar names like Harvard and Johns Hopkins – both boast more than a hundred trainees.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos, via the governor's flickr page

Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos, via the governor’s flickr page

The American Association of Medical Colleges says the average, like Vanderbilt, has about 90. But in a room with the governor and the mayor of Nashville last week, Chancellor Nick Zeppos tipped his hand on a push to be well above average.

“We are going to double the size of our MD/PhD program – physician scientists. We want the largest physician-science program in the country. And that will be tuition-free for the whole time that training occurs.”

Vanderbilt says details such as cost will have to wait for an official announcement. The Medical Center notes such students often work as residents and treat patients while doing research, making them a valuable resource.

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