First-year trainees meet with the MD-PhD directors soon after arrival to review the structure, timeline, and expectations of the program. In addition to their medical school coursework, MD-PhD trainees should begin a concentrated search for a thesis laboratory. Meeting with faculty, attending lab meetings, and attending the MD-PhD retreat will provide opportunities to narrow the search. MD-PhD trainees may also elect to take graduate school courses during the first few years of medical school. The MD-PhD Directors provide careful mentorship for this process, as choosing a thesis advisor is the single most important factor in the success of a student's training program. All faculty who are engaged in basic scientific research, and are members of the Academic Council, are eligible to serve as thesis advisors.
By the end of spring quarter of the first year, most MD-PhD students will have chosen a potential thesis advisor and will enter the laboratory for a full-time rotation in summer quarter. The goal of the summer project is to acquire an in-depth research experience that will serve as a thorough introduction to the laboratory, and a potential platform for developing a thesis project during the second and third year as curricular coursework draws to a close and full-time research begins. If the laboratory is not a good fit, most students pursue additional rotations during the Autumn and Winter quarters of the second year to identify a lab and a project. Most students remain engaged in research throughout the second year of medical school, so that beginning Spring quarter in the second year, students can embark full-time on thesis research and completion of their graduate course requirements.