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MIT offers new medical sciences program

MIT graduate students interested in integrating their research in the life sciences with experiences in clinical medicine are encouraged to apply to the newly established Graduate Education in Medical Sciences (GEMS) program. An informational session will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8 in 32-G449 in the Stata Center.

MIT was one of 13 universities to receive GEMS awards from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Some 51 universities applied.

"A growing volume of research at MIT is related to the life sciences. Much of this work is motivated by an interest in advancing human health, yet there are very few opportunities for those working in the area to learn about human pathophysiology and medicine," said Elazer Edelman, the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

The GEMS program seeks to "facilitate development of training programs that improve the understanding of medicine and pathology by Ph.D. scientists conducting biomedical research," said William Galey, director of graduate education programs at HHMI.

Ten students will be selected for admission to the first GEMS class of February 2007 from already enrolled Ph.D. students in MIT's Schools of Science and Engineering. The GEMS program runs concomitantly with the normal course of an MIT graduate education and can be completed in one and a half years without prolonging a normal Ph.D. career.

The GEMS curriculum includes a human pathology course, including molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease; a medical pathophysiology course; and a clinical experience where students work with experienced mentors who move seamlessly between clinical medicine and basic biological research. Two additional seminars will focus on the skills needed to succeed in interdisciplinary research from the scientific, medical and ethical perspectives.

The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) "has been extraordinarily successful in facilitating productive engagement and fruitful working relationships with physicians in improving human health across a wide range of applications," wrote Deans Thomas L. Magnanti (School of Engineering) and Robert J. Silbey (School of Science) in a joint letter. "This program to foster translation is of great social importance, and we are very pleased that HST will leverage this experience so that graduate students pursuing Ph.D. training in the biological sciences in departments in the Schools of Science and Engineering will be afforded the opportunity to integrate medical knowledge within their graduate education."

The GEMS program is offered under the auspices of HST through a collaborative effort between MIT, Harvard Medical School and three Harvard teaching hospitals (Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center).

GEMS leverages HST's 36-year infrastructure designed specifically to integrate medicine, science, engineering and business within its own degree programs.

Additional information and applications for the incoming class of 2007 are available online at For questions regarding the academic program, please send an e-mail to

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 1, 2006 (download PDF).

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