Program Description

This Foundation Area is designed for medical students who desire a serious research experience in the basic science disciplines that are the underpinnings of medicine. Within this broad Foundation Area, students will identify a research mentor and project, and design a course curriculum to complement their research.  The program is intended to capitalize on the current strengths of the medical school in basic biomedical science research and its vision with regard to medical education. An important feature of the MBM Foundation Area is that medical students will participate in coursework and laboratory research side-by-side with graduate students and MSTP students pursuing the Ph.D. and will be exposed to the rigor and structure that support first-rate scientific investigation. This Foundation Area will serve as firm grounding for future academic physicians who may later have a major basic science research component to their career, including a Ph.D. or research postdoctoral fellowship. This Foundation Area will also serve future practicing physicians by training them in how scientific data are generated and evaluated in the research laboratory and equipping them to follow the forefront of basic science literature related to their clinical specialty, thus facilitating the "bench-to-bedside" incorporation of advances in basic biomedical science into clinical practice.

This Foundation Area requires a level of commitment on the part of the medical student that will generally require following original research. Students who feel they have good reasons to apply for a four-year scholarly project may, however, discuss their reasons and plan with the Director for consideration.

Students in this Foundation Area will be encouraged to associate with existing Departments or IDPs, allowing them to easily join and benefit from the administrative structures already set up for advising, mentoring and monitoring the progress of graduate students. These structures help to unite faculty and students who are working in related fields even if they happen to be in different departments or different schools at the University. Should a student choose to do so, and after discussion with the appropriate Directors he or she can also affiliate with any of the Application Areas, allowing her/him to take advantage of a broad array of opportunities for curricular and topical enrichment tailored to a specific area of medicine. In this case, the student will design a course curriculum that draws from both the MBM core curriculum and that of the Application Area.

Program Requirements


Students who pursue Molecular Basis of Medicine in conjunction with an application area, such as Immunology, are required to complete 6 units.

The course curriculum for MBM is entirely elective, and should include a combination of didactic and literature based courses.

Among the many fine offerings, we recommend:

BIOC 230, Molecular Interventions in Human Disease (3 units).

We also recommend GENE 203, Advanced Genetics (4 units), which may be taken in place of GENE 202 in the first quarter of the first year.

Students are encouraged to devise a course plan to present to the director. Students who elect to participate in an Application Area will design the balance of the 12 unit requirement with the Director of their Application Area.


The vast majority of MBM students will complete the equivalent of a year of full time laboratory research, and will therefore pursue a five-year graduation plan. Some students elect to continue their research by entering a PhD program. Support for time spent in the lab may be obtained by application to the MedScholars Program, and students are also encouraged to apply for funding from outside sources, such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Presentation of Research:

All students are expected to present their research at least once in an approved forum. This may be the annual Medical Student Research Symposium, a national or international meeting, or other as approved by the Director.

Written Report of Research:

Students are expected to produce a written report of their research results. This will typically be in the form of a manuscript to be submitted for publication (or, if already published, a copy of the published paper). If a publication is not expected, the final written report should take the form of a manuscript for publication.

Annual Meeting with the Director:

Students will meet with the director to discuss a plan for completion of the Concentration, and at least annually to review progress. A final meeting will certify that the requirements for the Concentration have been completed.

Master's Thesis

It is anticipated that a portion of the medical students pursuing this Foundation Area will achieve results worthy of and complete the requirements for a Masters degree. Students who achieve excellence in their research and scholarship may petition to meet the requirements for a masters degree in the degree granting program most closely aligned with their focus area or most appropriate for their area of research. Students interested in the possibility of achieving a Masters should familiarize themselves with the Masters degree requirements in the appropriate degree granting program early in their scholarly concentration work so as to be prepared to meet the course and research requirements of that degree granting program for the masters degree. A Masters Degree will require writing and defending a Masters thesis, as well as meeting the requirement for the Masters in the Department or IDP most related to the Focus area and/or the topic of the research. Meeting the full requirements for the Masters may require additional coursework or research time, as set by the policies of the Masters Degree granting program.