A critical component of any MSTP is a strong vibrant faculty committed to training future physician-scientists. The MSTP Directors actively work to identify faculty members with vigorous, well-funded biomedical research programs, so that trainees flourish in their research participation.

Facts about our MSTP Faculty

  • MSTP faculty members broadly represent research areas at the U of Iowa. They have primary appointments in five colleges (Medicine, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Engineering, and Pharmacy).
  • MSTP faculty members are appointed at all ranks. Professors make up 57% of the faculty, 30% are Associate Professors, and 13% are Assistant Professors.
  • Nearly half of the MSTP faculty members have primary appointments in a clinical department, reflecting the emphasis on basic science investigation in clinical departments.
  • One third are physician-scientists, (MD or MD-PhD scientists).
  • We have four Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators.
  • Two of our faculty belong to the National Academy of Science.
  • In the last ten years, MSTP faculty members have graduated over 300 PhD or MD-PhD scientists, with over 175 pre-doctoral students currently training in their laboratories.

MSTP Mentors

Over 15 years ago, the MSTP implemented a mentoring program for faculty members who had a limited record of training, but an active research program. This plan divides training faculty members into three groups.

Mentors are of faculty members with substantial extramural funding and who have trained a graduate student through the completion of his/her PhD.
The second group, New Mentors, consists of junior faculty members and some senior investigators who have exciting research programs that are highly relevant for the training of future physician-scientists, but who have not yet graduated a PhD student.

When a trainee enters the laboratory of a New Mentor, a member of the MSTP Mentor faculty is identified to work with the New Mentor during the training process.

This Mentor serves on the thesis committee and is encouraged to meet with the New Mentor on a regular basis to facilitate the training process.

The Mentor/New Mentor designation has many positive attributes.

First, it provides a mechanism whereby a less experienced training faculty member is encouraged to work with a more senior colleague to learn how to become an excellent mentor.
Second, MSTP students may be leery of joining a laboratory where they would be the first PhD student. Knowing that there will be oversight by a more senior faculty member allays this concern.

MSTP students are encouraged to meet with New Mentors, perform research rotations in their laboratories, and consider them as potential thesis advisors. To facilitate this process, New Mentors are included on MSTP committees and are encouraged to participate in programmatic activities, such as Conversations in Research, where they discuss research opportunities in their laboratories. Currently, about a tenth of MSTP students are conducting research in the laboratory of a New Mentor. The MSTP Mentor/New Mentor designation has proven so successful that other graduate training programs at the institution have adopted this mechanism to increase student access to junior faculty laboratories and to help faculty develop critical mentoring skills.