The Physician-Scientist Research Pathway

The Physician-Scientist Research Pathway in Pathology & Cell Biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC)

Program Director: Kevin L. Gardner, MD, PhD

In addition to the ACGME-accredited residency training programs in Anatomic Pathology (AP), Clinical Pathology (CP), combined AP/CP, and combined Anatomical/Neuropathology Pathology (AP/NP), the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology offers training in the Physician-Scientist Research Pathway (PSRP).  Applicants for this program must be recent M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. graduates with extensive prior research training, experience, a strong record of research accomplishments, and commitment to academic pathology.  

The PSRP is a mentored career development program tailored to provide trainees with the opportunity to establish research programs in basic science, clinical or translational research with the goal of becoming independent extramurally funded physician-scientists. This program is designed to meet the guidelines set forth by the American Board of Pathology's Physician-Scientist Research Pathway, formally established in 2015, which allows trainees to dedicate a full year of post-graduate training, in addition to six months of research in core training, to pursue research. This additional year is not subject to ACGME program requirements and will be protected time that will not be intermixed with required clinical training.

Trainees will be advised and assisted in selecting a research mentor or mentoring team from one of the many successful investigators, at CUIMC or laboratories at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, with active research programs and a history of excellence in mentoring and peer-reviewed research funding. Trainees wishing to enter this program should declare their interest, in consultation with the Program Director, prior to commencing the 3rd year of training, and will work in consultation with the Director to identify an appropriate mentor and mentoring committee for biannual review of their research proposal and progress.  ACGME clinical requirements for board certification in the PSRP are the same for trainees not in the physician-scientist pathway. 

Trainees are encouraged to apply to take the certification examination as soon as GME training requirements are completed. Upon successful completion of this program, trainees will be board-eligible, competent to practice in a subspecialty of pathology, and highly competitive candidates for faculty positions at major research and teaching institutions.

Features of the CUIMC Pathology & Cell Biology Physician-Scientist Research Pathway:

  • Allows the trainees to complete the American Board of Pathology requirements for certification in anatomic pathology and/or clinical pathology while providing ample time for intensive laboratory work under the guidance and supervision of a faculty mentor.
  • Trainees must express their interest in entering the PSRP prior to commencing the PGY3 year of training and initiate selection of a mentor and mentoring committee.
  • Trainees may select any laboratory at CUIMC with approval from the Program Director.
  • During or prior to their research phase, trainees are encouraged to prepare and submit applications for continuing support of their training including career development awards.
  • ACGME-required core six months of training must be approved by the Program Director.
  • Trainees are encouraged to complete the six-month core research requirement at the end of their PGY3 year of training to provide an 18-month block of time for research.
  • Trainees are expected to work closely with their mentor to establish a strong research program and apply for external support from the NIH, e.g., K08 award, and foundations before or during their PGY4 research year.
  • Applicants for the ABP certification must indicate on their application form that they are in the Physician-Scientist Research Pathway, what their research topic is, and the name of their research mentor.
  • The Program Director must verify candidate participation in the pathway and will notify the ABP if a candidate/diplomate does not complete the Research Pathway.
  • The research year, like a fellowship year, will meet the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part II and Part IV requirements.