MD with Distinction

MD with Distinction (MDwD) is a pathway for medical students who have taken a leave of absence to engage in an immersive, yearlong research project. The intent of MDwD is to recognize the efforts of students not enrolled in a dual-degree program (MD/MAS, JMP, MPH) but who have completed a mentored program of yearlong, full-time research training. The program includes a research advisory committee and culminates in a high-caliber legacy product (detailed below).  The project should demonstrate original hypothesis-driven investigation, excellence in methodology and interpretation of data, and a resulting body of original work reported as a legacy product or manuscript for peer review.  Enrollment in the MDwD program is a requirement for, but is not limited to, those students who receive yearlong research funding from the Inquiry Funding Office nut who are not enrolled in degree-grant programs at the same time, including MD/MAS, MPH, or JMP. Students’ work must be overseen by an Individual Committee of faculty throughout the course of the research term and is reviewed by content experts in the field to ensure that the legacy product/manuscript meets standards in the specific field of inquiry.


Completion requirements include: 

•    Research time: Students will have completed a full year of continuous, mentor-supported inquiry during a leave of absence from enrollment in any degree-granting  program.
•    A legacy project (in addition to the Inquiry Symposium abstract and poster): The legacy project is a written product designed in consultation with a mentor and overseen by an Individual MDwD Committee. It is typically a first-authored manuscript that is either submitted to, or has been accepted at, a peer-reviewed journal; or it can be a writeup, including background, methods, results, and discussion (suggested length: 2000-3000 words).
•    Participation with an MDwD Committee, within expectations for meeting frequency and draft submissions (timeline below) 
•    Final approval by UCSF School of Medicine MDwD Award Committee
•    All requirements of Doctor of Medicine in the UCSF School of Medicine

Program Timeline
  • August (of research year): Designate Individual Committee members and meeting schedule.
  • February 1st (of graduating year): Submission Deadline for Legacy Product.
  • April 1st (of graduating year): Submission Deadline for Revisions (if requested).
  • April 15th (of graduating year): MDwD Award Committee Decision.
  • Spring (of graduating year): Present at Inquiry Symposium, as part of the Inquiry Curriculum.
MDwD Committee

Participating students assemble Individual MDwD Committees (aka “thesis committees”) at the outset of their yearlong research time.  Members must include 1) the primary mentor for the student’s yearlong project, 2) the student’s Inquiry Advisor, and 3) a faculty member chosen to advise in the same content area.  The goal of the committee is to generate advice and approval on the proposed project.  To achieve this aim, the Individual MDwD Committee meets often enough to support the scholarship, OR at least three times during the project period and following year:

  • Meeting #1 -Project Outset / August of research year
  • Meeting #2–Project Midpoint / June of research year
  • Meeting #3 –Year of Graduation / March after product submission

Students can elect additional project support by participating in the Yearlong Inquiry Program (YIP) which includes: works-in-progress, journal clubs, colloquia, and coursework.

Assessment of MDwD

All MDwD Committee members will assess the research and products submitted using the following categories:

  • Hypothesis generation
  • Background contextualization
  • Methodology
  • Statistics
  • Interpretation
  • Qualitative comments will be important as constructive feedback to the student and committee.

Completion of the MDwD program will be assessed by an MDwD Award Committee composed primarily of a panel of faculty from the Inquiry Funding Office. For more information, please contact Inquiry.