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Student Research
General Information
Specific Programs
M.D. with Thesis
Dean's Prize and Poster Session
Additional Funding Options
Contact Information

Pathways Certificate Program (PCP)

Objectives & Curriculum
Length of Program
Student Eligibility
Conditions of Completion
Financial Support and Costs


Objectives & Curriculum:

Recognizing the national and state-wide need to train physician-scientists who have the ability and commitment to advance the knowledge base and practice of medicine, the UCSF Pathways Certificate Program (PCP - formerly known as CPBR) is designed to facilitate opportunities for medical students to pursue full-time research for one or more years beyond the standard four year curriculum. Students who apply to the PCP must have a well-defined plan for a high quality research project that will be carried out full-time under the careful supervision of a faculty mentor/advisor. Furthermore, the PCP requires participation in a Pathway to Discovery and completion of all requirements to graduate with the honor of "M.D. with Distinction" from that Pathway.


The requirements listed here are general and apply to all Pathways. For details specific to each Pathway, students can contact the representatives listed below.

1) The research plan must be submitted to and approved by a Pathway's M.D. with Distinction Committee, which will approve a three-member faculty committee to oversee the student’s progress, and help the student in the preparation and completion of a written manuscript suitable for publication.

2) The minimum duration of the research project is one year, with the option to extend for additional academic quarters or full years as desired or needed.

3) Students will attend journal clubs and research seminars that are available to the UCSF community throughout the year, along with works-in-progress sessions required by their Pathways.

4) Students will complete a curricula appropriate to completion of their Pathway.

5) Documentation of attendance at these various educational components of the PCP will be provided by the student in the form of a signed document to be submitted concurrent with submission of the final manuscripts (i.e. February 15th of the year of graduation).

6) ) Participants are not allowed to receive academic credit, other than Medical Sciences 200, enroll in any UCSF courses, or complete any clinical rotations while in the PCP.  Participants who must complete program requirements during that time audit the requisite courses.  Confirmation that the required course was audited must be provided by the course instructor to the directors of a participant's individual Pathway.

Length of Program:

The PCP requires a minimum commitment to twelve (12) months of full-time research. In terms with the Office of Admission and Registrar, this translates to four (4) consecutive quarters. Although this can begin at any time during the year, it is expected that most students will begin their program between June and September.

Student Eligibility:

Any UCSF medical student in good academic standing who has designed a plan for a high quality research experience is eligible for the program. In most cases, students will opt for the PCP in the beginning or middle of the 3rd year of the medical school curriculum; i.e. after the completion of all pre-clinical studies and electives, and during their clinical rotations. Preliminary review of the student’s qualifications and research proposal will be done by the director of the chosen Pathway to Discovery program. Once approved at this level, the proposal will then be submitted to the MD with Distinction committee within the student's chosen Pathway. The committee will determine whether any revisions are required before formally completionaccepting that student as a candidate for graduation with Distinction. Acceptance as an M.D. with Distinction candidate will constitute approval for participation in the PCP.

Conditions of Completion:

1. Completion of all requirements of the M.D. with Distinction Program (i.e. completion of a manuscript which is formally approved by a 3-person thesis committee and the directors of a Pathway to Discovery);

2. Attestation by the student’s faculty research mentor/advisor that the student has successfully completed a full year of research activity;

3. Documentation by the student of the educational activities attended outside of the research experience itself; and

4. Review and final approval by the director and associate director of the Office of Student Research.

Financial Support:

Students pursuing a full year of research have a number of potential sources for funding. Most students seek to obtain extramural grants, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellowship, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Fellowship, and others. Students also apply for intramural, UCSF grants, including the Pathways to Discovery Yearlong Research Fellowship. These funds are used primarily as a stipend to cover living expenses for the year. In some of these programs, additional funds are provided for payment of various fees required by the school. For students who do not obtain fellowships, other options include a Pathways Project Grant and financial support provided directly by their mentor.

Students participating in the PCP will be enrolled at UCSF at a level that provides access to Central Student Services (e.g., Admission and Registration, Student Financial Services) and direct services such as membership in Millberry Union, access to the library, and Student Health Services. In addition, enrollment will include coverage for health, liability and disability insurance. Given the high priority by the School of Medicine for fostering career development in academic medicine and biomedical research, most (if not all, depending on the number of students) of the annual cost for enrollment, which is expected to be approximately $7,500 in AY '11-12, will be provided for by the Office of Student Research.


To learn about requirements for a specific Pathway, students can contact:

Health Professions Education
Carrie Chen, MD, MSEd

Health & Society
Jessaca Machado

Clinical and Translational Research
George Sawaya, MD

Molecular Medicine
Robert Nussbaum, MD
Harold Bernstein, MD, PhD

Global Health
Maggie Coffin

Updated: May 17, 2012
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