The route to become a physician-scientist

R. J. Porte MD PhD, Chair Junior Scientific Masterclass

Are you dreaming of becoming a physician who is trained to combine the care for patients with clinical science? The Junior Scientific Masterclass (JSM) of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) presents you a unique possibility to realize this dream.
Because of the major growth in biomedical knowledge, there is a dire need for physicians who can translate fundamental insights into new clinical applications and, simultaneously, generate scientific questions based on clinical observations (i.e. translational research). In order to enforce clinical research, it is essential to immerse medical students into research during the pre-clinical phase of their curriculum. Therefore, the JSM educational programme encourages motivated students to seek research experience from the start of their medical education.
The JSM educational programme also enables medical students to apply for MD/PhD projects. The MD/PhD programme consists of clinical intern­ships (‘co-schappen’) combined with a financed period of two extra years within the medical cur­riculum. This programme gives medical students the opportunity to successfully finish both their medical education (MD) and a PhD project within a period of eight years. Of course other PhD tracks are possible in which the postgraduate clinical training is combined with a PhD track. For an overview of the educational programme see table.

Educational Programme

Years 1 & 2
  • Mentor groups
  • Triple-B Lectures (introduction into translational medicine)
  • TTT projects (short science projects supervised by peer JSM students)
  • Course in strategies for effective literature searches
  • Critical Reading Classes
  • Science Electives (2-3 week courses dedicated to Biology, Oncology, Pathology, Neurology, Psychology, etc.)
  • Courses in Science Methodology (Laboratory skills or Statistics/Epidemiology)
  • Pilot Projects
Phase I
Year 3
  • COMPASS week of training in Science
  • Mentor groups
  • Critical Reading Classes
  • Elective courses (Science Writing Course, Medical Statistics, Epidemiology, Laboratory Animal Science, etc.)
  • Pilot projects
  • Project Management
Phase II
Years 4 – 6
  • Clinical Internships
  • Medical graduation
Medical Doctor
Years 5,6,7,8
  • Combination – Clinical Internships/Research
Medical doctor
  • Combination – Clinical training/Research

The JSM educational programme in the Bachelor phase, the ‘Bachelor Honours programme’, consists of two phases. The first phase entails getting familiar with research within (the Graduate School Medical Sciences of) the UMCG (GUIDE, BCN, SHARE and Kolff Institute). The second phase is meant to be a turning point and consists of a one-week course of intensive training in clinical research for a (selected) group of students, called the COMPASS week. In the second phase the students are also stimulated to choose their own line of research and apply for research grants.

The JSM programme has grown considerably since it started in 1999. The last thirteen years (2001-2014) more than 850 students have been awarded Pilot Projects and 480 students an MD/PhD-project. Until now, more than 200 students successfully mastered the MD/PhD-programme*

In 2008, the ‘Mandema-stipendium’ was introduced which enables young physician-scientists (MD PhD) to combine their specialist training with research and establish their own line of research.

The route to become a physician-scientist is chal­lenging, but also highly rewarding. It represents an investment for a lifelong learning in the field of academic medicine.

Additional information: |
or e-mail to: