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Physician-Scientist Training Program

Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to becoming a destination for physician-scientists at all career stages by creating a nurturing community and infrastructure that prepares our trainees for a sustainable research career, and forges a sustainable physician-scientist career development pipeline.

Penn State values and supports aspiring physician-scientists. The Physician-Scientist Training Program (PSTP) is an institution-wide program aiming to develop a culture that promotes the growth and diversity of the physician-scientist workforce. PSTP provides research training and mentoring to all trainees ranging from medical students to junior faculty with a specific focus on clinical residency and fellowship trainees.

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More about the Physician-Scientist Training Program

Program Goals Expand answer

The goal of the Physician-Scientist Training Program is to prepare trainees for a successful and sustainable research career by integrating focused research time, didactic sessions, individualized mentoring and a supportive community of scientists.


  • To prepare trainees for a sustainable research career
  • To provide structured curriculum and training
  • To create a supportive network of peers, near-peer mentors and senior advisors
  • To promote professional identity and sense of community
  • To support resilience and wellness in the physician-scientist career
  • To increase diversity in the physician scientist workforce
Program Overview Expand answer

PSTP is a two-year program from September to June. Scholars will participate in seminars and workshops twice a month along with individual mentored research activity.

Curriculum: The interdisciplinary and integrated curriculum is designed to expose scholars to both clinical and basic research activities throughout the two-year program.

Monthly, in-person interactive sessions and small group activities, along with monthly webinar/Zoom activities, will facilitate training in biomedical research and integrate with clinical patient care. Courses will focus on training along the following four main themes.

  • Research resources – PSU research support services and tools
  • Research proposal development – fellowship, career development, grant/manuscript writing
  • Raising resilient scientist – wellness, resilience, work-life alignment, feedback
  • Research communication – presenting/promoting research, including written and oral skills

In addition to these sessions, scholars will:

  • Be encouraged to form an interdisciplinary mentoring team of three faculty and to develop SMART goals and an “Individual Development Plan” with input from the mentors
  • Identify a research project and build a research trajectory with milestones and timeline
  • Receive real-time feedback of their specific aims, abstract submissions and/or oral presentations by PSTP mentors
  • Complete optional certification courses that are relevant to a research project (Examples: scientific writing, clinical trial design).
  • Have the opportunity to apply for funding support and PSTP scholar travel awards to present research at national meetings.
  • Network with scholars across the United States from other PSTP and ABIM research-pathway programs through the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA)
Leadership Expand answer

Program Director

The Physician-Scientist Training Program is directed by Chandrika Gowda, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology-Oncology and SCT, Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and Penn State College of Medicine.

Dr. Gowda is also a member of Penn State Cancer Institute and its Next-Generation Therapies research program.

Learn more about Dr. Gowda

Planning Committee Expand answer
To Apply Expand answer

The application process begins in late May. Accepted scholars will be notified by the end of July. Scholars must obtain a letter-of-support from their residency or fellowship program director, division chief, or department chair prior to start of the program.


Graduate medical trainees with strong commitment to research career:

  • Residents in “short-track” or “research pathway”
  • Residents with MD/PhD or MD/DO degree with research experience and strong commitment to physician scientist career currently not in a formal research track
  • Subspecialty fellowship trainees in their research year


  • Current Penn State College of Medicine medical students who are not in the Medical Scientist Training program
  • Clinician (non-physician) trainees with research experience and strong commitment to clinician-scientist career

If you have questions about the application process, program eligibility, or participation, please email the program at

Upcoming Sessions Expand answer

Note: These schedules are subject to change.

Scholars Expand answer
Mentors to current and past PSTP scholars Expand answer

Please click here if you would like to serve as PSTP mentor/ senior advisor

Please click here if you would like to serve as ‘near-peer mentor’

Wellness Expand answer

Wellness, including emotional, spiritual, social and physical health, is a crucial component to training and to becoming a professional, compassionate and resilient physician. Self-care is a skill which must be continually practiced and reinforced. Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health are committed to addressing wellness among residents and fellows, with multiple resources readily available.

Diversity Expand answer

Institutional Resources

Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine celebrate, embrace and support the diversity of all patients, faculty, staff, students and trainees.

Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In keeping with this, Penn State Health has an active Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with various programs, networks and resource groups, including:

  • Talks and lectures on diversity, equity and inclusion through Inclusion Academy
  • Regular events on topics such as eradicating racism and creating a culture of inclusiveness
  • An allyship support group
  • Many affinity resource network groups, including:
    • Disability Affinity Resource Network Group
    • Group on Women in Medicine and Science
    • Interfaith Affinity Resource Network Group
    • LGBTQ and Allies Affinity Resource Network Group
    • Military/Veterans Affinity Resource Network Group
    • Multicultural Affinity Resource Network Group
    • NextGen

Learn more about the Penn State Health Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Learn more about the College of Medicine’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Belonging

Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education

The vision at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health is to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research for an increasingly diverse U.S. population. The Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education was formed to help meet that goal.

Learn more about the Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education

Office for a Respectful Learning Environment

In addition, the institution does not tolerate discrimination, biases, microaggression, harassment or learner mistreatment of any kind, and any concerns are immediately addressed by the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment.

Learn more about the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment

Resources Expand answer


Career and Research

Unconscious Bias Training

Contact the Program

Contact the program by email at

The program director, Chandrika Gowda, MD, can be reached at