medical scientist training program

alumni outcomes

Long term alumni outcomes

The vast majority of our alumni go on to successful careers in academia, research institutes, industry (usually biotech or pharma), or other areas which draw on their MD-PhD training and reflect the goals of our program.

The figure below shows the outcomes for all of our alumni who had completed residency and/or postdoctoral fellowship in 2011.  Of the 325 who had completed training, 61% held a faculty appointment at an academic medical center or university, 5% were at research institutes and 9% were working in industry. There are at least 53 Professors, 38 Associate Professors and 68 Assistant Professors. The 27 alumni who are working in industry are working at large companies (Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb) and at smaller companies and start-ups (Ariad, Centocor, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals). There are a number of company founders, presidents, vice presidents, and chief scientific officers including Bob Barchi who is President of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and Gary Koretzky who is Dean of Graduate Studies and Chief Scientific Officer at Weill Cornell School of Medicine. The 16 alumni who are at research institutes are mostly at the NIH (10), but others are at Cold Spring Harbor and the Burnham Institute including John Reed, our 1986 alumnus who directs the Burnham, and Chris Vakoc, a 2007 graduate who chose not to do residency training and is now a faculty member at Cold Spring Harbor. The 8 who fall into the “other” category include two who are editing medical research journals, one who works for the FDA and another who is at the Red Cross.

Career paths

Check out the Alumni Profiles of some of our most notable alumni.


academia - research areas

The alumni (N=120) that hold faculty appointments conduct a variety of research, reflecting the scope of basic, translational and clinical research training they received while in the MD-PhD program and afterwards.

career paths in academia

Note: HSR = Health Services Research

  • Career mix - A closer look at the alumni who are working fulltime in academia shows that how they distribute their time among research, teaching, administration and clinical responsibilities varies considerably. Most are doing research, with approximately half spending at least two-thirds of their professional time on research and only 10% doing no research at all. Conversely, we found that only a minority (15%) have chosen to do no clinical work at all. In general, the work phenotype of those who are in academia varies considerably, but typically involves a combination of research, teaching, administration and clinical activities.
  • Types of research - Most MD-PhD students at Penn and elsewhere do basic science research for their PhD. To better understand what our graduates are doing, we asked them in our most recent alumni surveys to tell us whether they do basic (laboratory), translational, clinical or health services research. More than one category could be checked. We received 143 responses to this question from alumni in academia, research institutes and industry (Figure above). The results show that 81% of those in academia
    do laboratory research, either alone or in combination with translational and clinical research.


Short term alumni outcomes

Of the 104 students who graduated in a six year span from 2007-2012, 95% chose to do a residency.  As is shown in the figure below, Internal Medicine remains the most popular choice among our graduates and Medicine, Pathology, Pediatrics and Neurology collectively account for 68% of our recent graduates. The majority match at their first choice of residency program and approximately 95% match at either their first or second choice. Some of the more frequent choices among the 2007-2012 graduates include: Penn and CHOP residency programs (29), Harvard programs (Brigham, MGH and Boston Children’s) (22), UCSF (8), Cornell (4), Hopkins (4), and Stanford, Columbia, Duke, and the University of Washington (3 each).

The 5 who did not pursue residcency, accepted postdoctoral fellowships at Cold Spring Harbor, Emory University, Harvard, Yale and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 


Residency field choice 2007-2012

Check out the match lists from 2004 to the present.