Track Overview: Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation (PCI) program offers research and course opportunities designed to enable interested students/scholars to explore this track. For example:

  • First year graduate students are encouraged to take the course, Design and Conduct of Clinical Research, which provides an overview of clinical research methodology.
  • Any number of the three rotations that are taken by graduate students in year one can be arranged with PCI Faculty

Based on these first-year experiences, Ph.D. students will declare their interest in the Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation (PCI) track by the end of the first year. After that, students undertake the additional required courses for the PCI track.


Focus Areas/Required Courses

Courses for the Ph.D. focus on research methods with training in epidemiology, biostatistics and data analysis. In addition, each student’s mentors oversee the research progress of the student and assess the need for further course work and/or tutorials.

  • Required courses begin as follows:  
    • For Ph.D. Students: in the summer between the 1st and 2nd year
    • For MSTP Students: in the summer after the 2nd year
  • In both cases, the first course is the Clinical Research Summer Intensive Course #1307. The didactic curriculum for the PCI track then continues for one year, ending in May of the academic year. Courses allow time for the student to embark on their mentor-guided thesis research.
  • After completing the required courses in clinical investigation methods, each student should undertake the qualifying examination and assemble his/her advisory committee.
    • The advisory committee may recommend additional course work as needed, including certain units in the medical school.
  • In year four or five the student should be prepared to defend their dissertation and graduate with the Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences (Clinical Investigation).
  • Each student in the MSTP is assigned an advisor to assist their selection of their first summer research rotation.  
  • Students who have identified interest in Clinical Investigation will be assigned one the Clinical Researchers on the MSTP Steering Committee as an advisor who can help them pursue a rotation in clinical research.  
  • There are additional opportunities for clinical research rotations in the summer between the first and second year of the MSTP. MSTP students are expected to choose their Ph.D. thesis mentor in the second year, usually based on the rotations they have completed.  
  • MSTP students in the Clinical Investigation (PCI) track will take the uniform MSTP curriculum for the first and second year of medical school; the second year of medical school is with all Einstein medical students.  
  • MSTP students electing the PCI track will begin the required courses the summer after their second year.

The PCI track conforms to all policies and procedures of the Ph.D. program and the MSTP.


Qualifying Examination:

Students seeking the PCI track must pass the qualifying exam once the required courses in clinical investigation methods are completed.

  • The qualifier is an oral examination that focuses on the student’s area of research and is given by a committee composed of faculty of the Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation [and usually including a member of Graduate Division]
  • The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies appoints the chairperson of the examining committee.


The Thesis/Dissertation

The advisory committee determines when the student’s research is sufficient to commence writing the thesis, or dissertation, which represents the culmination of graduate studies. View the policies and procedures regarding the thesis.

Of Special Note: How the Ph.D. is Awarded

The Ph.D. in Clinical Investigation is granted through the Graduate School and utilizes the structure and by-laws of the Graduate School with the important proviso that the mentors and advisory committee of students on the PCI doctoral track will consist of mentors and advisory committees from among established clinical researchers approved by the Executive Committee of the Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore. 

Within the Graduate Division, ICTR represents the “virtual department” that defines curriculum and monitors progress for doctoral students in the PCI track, analogous to the role of the basic science department, which carries out this function for doctoral students who are working with their primary faculty.

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