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Physician Scientist Training Pathway (PSTP)


The purpose of the University of Iowa Department of Emergency Medicine (EM) Physician Scientist Training Pathway (PSTP) is to integrate postgraduate clinical and research training in order to develop physician-scientists who will be future leaders in academic emergency medicine. The PSTP is a pathway within the Emergency Medicine Residency Program and combines graduate medical education with the rich collaborative research community at University of Iowa.

Why Iowa PSTP?

University of Iowa has a long and strong history of supporting physician-scientists in all levels of training. UI Hospitals & Clinics boasts a robust Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in addition to eight other specialty PSTPs. There is ample opportunity for collaboration, and lab space is present on hospital grounds in addition to the nearby campus. There is established support on an institutional and departmental level for biomedical, clinical injury prevention, medical education, and health systems research.

In addition, our department boasts full-time EM-specific research staff as well as 24/7 enrollment staff to recruit patients into clinical trials. Our faculty and residents understand the value of research to EM as a specialty, as evidenced by a high volume of peer-reviewed publications and on-going grant-funded activities.

Further, UI Hospitals & Clinics offers one of the very few PSTP opportunities available in EM. This program will be a stepping stone for future leaders of academic EM. 


PSTP Residents

Karen Cyndari, PhD, MD - PGY3
Mentor: Christine A Peterson, DVM, PhD
Project: Mechanisms of Lyme Arthritis

Melvin Donaldson, PhD, MD - PGY2


Nicholas Mohr, MD, MS
Emergency Medicine PSTP Co-Director

Michael Takacs, MD, MS
Emergency Medicine PSTP Co-Director

Department Funding/Areas of Research

Get information regarding on-going research within the EM department.

PSTP participants may also seek mentorship from outside the department in basic science, translational science, clinical science, or health services research.

Schedule at a Glance


  • Select a research project mentor
  • Focus primarily on clinical duties
  • Complete step 3


  • Research elective month
  • Draft specific aims
  • Present research proposal (15-20 minute presentation)
  • Submit two-page formal, written, proposal


  • Three research elective months
  • Collect preliminary data, refine specific aims
  • Present preliminary data to department and/or national or regional conference
  • Residency graduation


  • Continue data collection, refine specific aims
  • Present research at national conference
  • Eight person-months allotted for additional research time
  • Work in ED as staff physician
  • Write and submit Career Development Award

PGY5 (optional) and beyond

  • Resubmit grant if necessary
  • Eight person-months annually allotted for additional research time
  • All PSTP residents will be offered post-residency training or research opportunities through Associate Scholar Program, regardless of grant status
  • If resident desires fellowship clinical training, research will be integrated into any EM-sponsored programs. Additional opportunities may be offered in other specialties but is not guaranteed.

Program Resources

EM PSTP residents will have access to the following resources and/or benefits:

  • Four months of dedicated research time during PGY1-PGY3 years
  • A PSTP mentor whose experience aligns with research interests 
  • Monthly PSTP enrichment activities with PSTP residents from all participating departments throughout the university
  • Annual academic allowance of $4,000 in addition to travel funds provided to EM residents. This may be used for academic expenses such as books, professional memberships, research supplies, or travel.
  • Guaranteed acceptance to the Department of Emergency Medicine Associate Scholar Program or clinical fellowship in the department of EM upon successful graduation
  • Guaranteed time to present research and participate in PSTP activities

Requirements to apply

Applicants must satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • Upcoming graduation from an MSTP or MSTP-equivalent program
  • PhD-level degree
  • At least one year of dedicated research experience
  • Equivalent experience consistent with the standards of the UI PSTP pathway

To apply

What to Expect for an Interview

Applicants will attend the categorical EM interview, and additionally interview with PSTP faculty. They will give a brief presentation on prior research experience or a current research project. 

For questions or further inquiries, please contact: nicholas-mohr@uiowa.edu