Our History

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, was started in 1968 with a grant from the NIH Institute of General Medicine, and initially only required 24 months of research training. It did not require the completion of the PhD, though most students finished both the MD and PhD. In 1973, the program was reorganized as a joint MD-PhD program co-sponsored by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). The current grant started in 1976 and helps to support students in the first two years of PhD training. The MSTP is based on the medical campus at Columbia, but includes programs on the Morningside campus (Biology, Chemistry, and Biomedical Engineering) and the Mailman School of Public Health (Epidemiology). The Epidemiology track began in 2002 in conjunction with Epidemiology at Mailman School of Public Health.  The Biomedical Engineering track also began at that time and is under the leadership of Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic. The MSTP at Columbia is designed to train physician-scientists who are capable of leading major research activities in the years to come.

Dr. Steven Reiner joined the program in 2013 and become the director of the MSTP in July 2014. Dr. Michael Shelanski became director of the MSTP in 1998 and led the program until July 2014. He now serves as an Associate Director along with Dr. Ronald Liem, and Dr. Ira Tabas. Dr. Patrice Spitalnik joined the MSTP in 2003 as the Assistant Director.