A collaborative initiative between the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and University of the Sciences has established a joint DO/PhD program and a critical link between “the bench and bedside.”
“By combining medical training with research training, we will produce clinical scholar-practitioners who can make ongoing contributions to the osteopathic clinical, scientific, and academic community,” said Dr. John Porter, professor of biological sciences and graduate program director for biological sciences graduate programs. “These medical practitioners can bring the advances of laboratory research together with the realities of patient care for a more rapid incorporation of research advances into medical practice; this is commonly referred to as ‘translational research.’”
The program is set up as a 2/3/2 model with the first two years at PCOM focusing on an osteopathic medical curriculum that includes an introductory research orientation. The second phase beginning at the end of year two provides didactic courses at USciences and the main research component of the program which can be done on either at PCOM or the USciences. The final phase is completion of the DO clinical training.
“The goal is to train physician-scientists who will conduct original, high-quality scientific research with the perspective of a clinical practitioner,” Dr. Porter said.
The program is appealing to students who have an intent to become a DO physician but are passionate about the latest biomedical research. While MD-PhD programs can be found at many medical schools, the DO/PhD is fairly new.
Students are accepted into the DO/PhD program as part of their original application to medical school. PCOM will award the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree after successful completion of the DO program. USciences will award a doctor of philosophy degree upon successful completion of all requirements for the PhD in cell and molecular biology program, including the dissertation defense and submission of at least one manuscript for publication.