A PRE-GRADUATE PROGRAM FOR TRAINING MEDICAL STUDENTS AS PHYSICIAN SCIENTISTS
Financed by Fondazione Cariplo, Virgilio Program – Excellence in Research Track is a first joint attempt of leading Universities in Italy - University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Milan and Humanitas University in training leaders in academic medicine.
With the mission to provide excellence in medical education, research and clinical care, Virgilio partner Universities are committed to investment in research at the undergraduate level, as the most effective pathway to educate future medical scientists.
Physician scientists represent an essential national resource in the pursuit of clinically relevant basic and translational research discoveries. The recognition that this small group of physicians is becoming an “endangered species” has sparked the establishment of several new programs by various medical schools, Universities and private foundations to ensure that the pipeline of physician scientists who are committed to this career path is maintained.
With the above premise, Virgilio Program is a joint effort of University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Milan and Humanitas University to train leaders in academic medicine. The program is designed to foster the development of independent scientific careers by providing a parallel academic track and an intensive training in scientific inquiry.
Virgilio is a merit based 3 years program that selects qualified students in the third year of their Bachelor Degree in Medicine & Surgery enrolled at each of the three partner Universities who undergo the formative training spread over 4rd, 5th and 6th year of their academic degree course. The students have the opportunity to gain research experience under the mentorship of tutors and leading physician-scientist mentors.
• To introduce medical students to the physician scientist career-path.
• To train students in scientific inquiry and connect basic sciences in biomedicine with clinical medicine.
• To provide mentored research experience to explore translational medicine as a career choice.
Benefits for students
• Dedicate time in medical school exclusively to conducting research.
• Receive an individualized mentoring plan designed to meet your needs.
• Tailor the program to satisfy your unique research interests.
• Curriculum designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills and tools in translational medicine
Virgilio Program follows an integrated curriculum across the three partner Universities that enhances the existing Medical School curriculum to help students build the skills and knowledge base to pursue a biomedical research pathway and eventually have a career as a physician scientist.
During the 3 years in the Virgilio Program, the students undergo supplementary course work and lab experience spread over fourth, fifth and sixth year of their Bachelor Degree in Medicine and Surgery and in the end receives 60 additional CFU recorded in their diploma supplement.
The program follows a 3 year rotation. It contains in-depth formal didactic courses which are designed to help students acquire knowledge and skills related to research methods, information gathering, critical analysis & review and data processing. Teaching covers core and elective courses as well as one Academic Seminar per year.
Laboratory rotations and tutoring
Alongside didactic courses are planned laboratory rotations of 4 weeks per academic year in order to enable students assimilate the theoretical knowledge acquired during the courses into practical experience. Laboratory rotations are performed by the students across a portfolio of laboratories available in their University.
During the laboratory experience, the students are required to:
1. keep a daily diary on the activities performed in the lab, highlighting their role;
2. write a final scientific and personal growth report that summarizes the lab activities, their own contribution, their understanding of the research project, the methods learnt, skills obtained, and the relevance of the experience with respect to the learning goals of the year;
Each laboratory experience of the student is supported by a tutor who guides the research experience, provide scientific inputs and at a later stage discuss thesis internship.
During the final year of the degree course, the students are involved in a experimental research project as the topic of their final thesis. This period can be spent in a laboratory of any of the three partner universities, depending on the student’s choice of the thesis topic. Three awards are given each year to the best thesis.