Ph.D. FAQs

Q: I don't have an M.D.. What kind of career will the Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation prepare me for? 

A: The Harold and Muriel Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore aims to train researchers who can bridge academic fields and methodologies to foster findings that will improve human health. Our doctoral program is embedded in a graduate program strong in the traditional basic sciences, and one that is changing to foster students who want to expand their perspective and skills to include clinical and translational research. This will enable them to conduct research in human tissues, patients, and populations.

As biomedical research becomes increasingly focused on translational and clinical questions, our students will be uniquely suited for independent research careers in medical school environments. The breadth and depth of the mentored research experience will provide the basis for post-doctoral and then independent research, analogous to basic science Ph.D. training. Ph.D.s from our program will be poised to lead translational research teams comprising basic scientists, physicians, statisticians, and other professionals. Beyond medical schools and academia, there are other settings where the combined familiarity with basic science and clinical research skills is in demand, including the pharmaceutical industry, government agencies, and health care delivery systems.

Q: How long will it take to complete this Ph.D. compared to a Ph.D. in a basic science lab? 

A: There is no difference in length of time to the Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation versus a Ph.D. in a basic science lab. Both are equally rigorous.

  • For Ph.D. students it is expected that 4 to 5 years are spent before earning the Ph.D.. This includes the didactic requirements and thesis research.
  • MSTP students take 7 to 8 years to complete the M.D./Ph.D., including 3 to 4 years dedicated to their thesis research and 4 years of medical school.

Q: Are translational projects permitted if I work in wet-bench lab? 

A: Yes, the definition of clinical research includes the use of human specimens where the investigator is in contact with the population or patients that he or she is studying. In fact, the tenets of clinical research methodology underscore the heterogeneity and distinctly human characteristics that affect research in humans. This knowledge would distinguish one of our Ph.D. students from one who solely trained in a wet-bench lab.

Q: If I take the Clinical Investigation Track, am I still in the Einstein MSTP or Ph.D. program in the Graduate Division? 

A: Yes, all students in clinical investigation are full-fledged members of their respective programs (the MSTP or the Ph.D. program), both of which are part of the Graduate Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The Harold and Muriel Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore has been granted status as a "Virtual Department" in the Graduate Division to facilitate oversight and support of students in the Clinical Investigation track.

Our faculty and mentors all have academic appointments, many in the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health and other Clinical Departments.

Q: Can a doctoral thesis in clinical research be hypothesis driven and investigator initiated? 

A: Yes. In fact, like any doctoral thesis in our graduate school, the work must be investigator initiated and hypothesis driven. Whether the research undertaken fits the definition of basic science, translational, or clinical research, good science is good science. Some people erroneously equate “clinical research” with the process of enrolling patients in industry-sponsored clinical trials; but this activity, while valuable, would not meet the scientific standards of a doctoral dissertation, and is not what this track would promote or accept.

We seek students who will conduct  innovative, rigorous, hypothesis-driven research that meets the broad definition of clinical or translational investigation: studies on human materials, patients, or populations, including behavioral and epidemiological as well as mechanistic and patient-oriented research.

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