The MD/PhD program at the School of Medicine, University of Minho, started in 2006 as a pioneer program in Portugal and one of the few in Europe. Its goal is to allow medical students to develop a PhD program before starting their professional activity in healthcare institutions. This program is a unique and alternative opportunity for medical students to be formally involved in biomedical/clinical research in the beginning of their career. Inspired in the MD/PhD programs of renowned universities in the United States, MD/PhD students interrupt their medical undergraduate training in the end of the 5th year and start their PhD program. During three years they develop their PhD thesis. After that, students are reintegrated in the medical degree and finish the sixth and last year of the medical training.

In order to be accepted in the program, students should have successfully completed at least two summer laboratory rotations during the first four years of the medical course. These take place at Life and Health Sciences Research Institute and students can choose from more than 40 options annually. Laboratory rotations can also take place in other institutions, as long as the program's directive board approves it. These laboratory rotations are an excellent opportunity for medical students to have contact with scientific research and gain research skills from the beginning of the degree. These skills will certainly be useful even if students do not ingress in the MD/PhD or in a traditional PhD program.

Students can formally register as MD/PhD students by the end of the fifth year, after having completed more than two years of clinical training in hospitals. The selection process includes an interview with an international committee, during which students will discuss their CV and a proposal of a research project.

Former students recognize that this program is a unique opportunity in their future careers as doctors, and that delaying the formal clinical practice should not be seen as an obstacle.

The program corresponds to the 180 ECTS study plan of the PhD in Medicine. This 180 ECTS study plan is part of the PhD in Medicine and was recognized as FCT PhD Program, which means that there are scholarships attributed to this program. The characteristics of the program determine that only medical students from the School of Medicine, University of Minho, may apply.

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