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Journal of Biomedical Education
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3836467, 4 pages
Research Article

Canadian M.D.-Ph.D. Programs Produce Impactful Physician-Scientists: The McGill Experience

1Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y6
2Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y6
3CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital, University of Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada H3T 1C5
4Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont Research Center, University of Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada H1T 2M4
5Department of Experimental Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada H3A 1A3
6Rosalind & Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada H3A 1A3
7Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada H3T 1E2

Received 29 February 2016; Accepted 9 May 2016

Academic Editor: Jaimo Ahn

Copyright © 2016 Tianwei E. Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


On June 18, 2015, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced that it would terminate funding to M.D.-Ph.D. programs due to budget constraints, against the recommendations from two advisory panels. CIHR’s M.D.-Ph.D. program grants, which amounted to an annual average of $1.8 million in the form of 14 six-year studentships, represent only 0.15% of CIHR’s $1.2 billion operating budget. As over half of M.D.-Ph.D. trainees are dependent on these studentships, this poses a threat to physician-scientist training in Canada. In response to the current volatile funding climate, we surveyed McGill University’s M.D.-Ph.D. program alumni to assess its success in producing physician-scientists. In this program, 60.0% of graduates who have completed training have become physician-scientists, the majority being retained in Canada. These individuals have attained positions with sufficiently protected time for research and had grant success and significant publications for early- to mid-career investigators. This suggests that the current M.D.-Ph.D. system is an effective way of producing competent physician-scientists. As physician-scientists have remarkably contributed to Canadian healthcare innovation despite making up a fraction of physicians and researchers, vulnerability in the M.D.-Ph.D. pipeline would invariably affect the health of Canadians.