Stanford University School of Medicine
Berg Scholars Program

The Challenge: The number of physician-scientists in the United States is decreasing dramatically. Length of training, medical school debt, and inadequate career development during medical school have been cited by the National Institutes of Health and Burroughs Wellcome Fund as key drivers of the decrease.

Stanford’s Response: Stanford University School of Medicine is uniquely positioned to promote the careers of physician-scientists. A major goal of Stanford’s Berg Scholars Program is to address decreasing numbers of physician- scientists by shortening the training period without compromising quality of research – focusing instead on individualized career development of our MD-only Physician-Scientists by placing them in outstanding research groups led by experienced faculty.

The Berg Scholars Program is funded by a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Physician Scientist Institutional Award (BWF PSIA) which was granted to Stanford in 2018. Stanford has named the program to honor Professor Emeritus Paul Berg’s lifelong efforts to educate physician-scientists. Berg Scholars pursue a Master of Science in Medicine in Biomedical Investigation while enrolled in the MD program at Stanford.

Upon acceptance into the program, participants' funding is provided per the activities timeline below.





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Berg Scholars Program Timeline

Each Berg Scholar will spend 6 years on campus pursuing MS and MD degrees:

MD Program Year Berg Scholars Program Activities
Admissions period thru Winter Quarter Year 3 
  • Submit Berg Scholars Program application material
  • Identify and select faculty research mentor
  • Submit Split Preclinical Curriculum Application Form by August 12
2 or 3
  • Complete Graduation Program Authorization Petition
  • Submit Program Proposal for Masters Degree
  • Typical schedule will be 7 half-days per week for research projects
  • 100% funding for research in Summer & Spring Quarters
  • 50% funding in Autumn & Winter Quarters
  • Typical schedule will be 7 half-days per week for research projects
  • 50% funding in Autumn & Winter Quarters
  • Full time research, culminating in an oral thesis defense and publication(s)
  • 100% funding (stipend, fees, and tuition)
5 & 6
  • 100% funding (stipend, fees, and tuition)
  • Career development coursework to prepare trainees for independence as physician-scientists
  • Clinical clerkships, with ongoing mentorship

Summary of Berg Scholar Program Requirements

Berg Scholars must complete all Stanford University requirements for the Masters in Science (MS) in Medicine in Biomedical Investigation while pursuing their MD:

  • University residency requirement
    • Units may not be duplicated or double-counted toward the residency requirement for both degrees
  • Must complete the degree requirements within three years of the first graduate quarter of the MS 
  • 280 minimum units are required to graduate
    • 45 un-duplicated units taken in specific courses for the MS degree
    • 235 units in pre-clinical and clinical clerkships for the MD degree
  • Written research proposal
  • Oral presentation to research committee
  • Regularly scheduled committee reviews with satisfactory progress
  • Thesis defense (oral presentation & closed door questioning from committee)
  • Published thesis

Upon Berg Scholars Program Completion:

  • Awarded a Master of Science in Medicine in Biomedical Investigation
  • Designation at MD program graduation as a "Berg Scholar"
  • Dedicated physician investigator career development by outstanding MD-only faculty
  • Sponsorship for entry into research track (short track) residencies, in partnership with other BWF programs across the country