Click here to download the MMSCI Program Timeline.

To learn more about the custom pathways please refer to the Program Schedule accordian below. 

The Harvard Medical School Master of Medical Science in Clinical Investigation (MMSCI) curriculum is specifically designed to enable students to: master core topics in patient-oriented research; apply new knowledge to real-life examples; develop and execute his or her own research proposal; and impart their findings to the scientific community.

The Master of Medical Science in Clinical Investigation (MMSCI) curriculum is specifically designed to enable students to:

  • Master core topics in patient-oriented research;
  • Apply new knowledge to real-life examples;
  • Develop and execute his or her own research proposal;
  • Impart their findings to the scientific community

The Learning Model

A different approach to learning

Our innovative approach to learning incorporates traditional teaching methods with novel approaches to pedagogy. The core curriculum is specifically designed to ensure the seamless integration of core learning objectives across modules, while allowing students to simultaneously master the practical skills that accompany these important concepts.

Because teamwork and collaboration are critical ingredients in scientific discovery, MMSCI students will learn how to work in teams and develop networks, and will experience unparalleled teaching in leadership and management skills as they relate to clinical research.

Together with classroom work and team and leadership exercises, the main feature of the MMSCI program requires completion of a mentored clinical research project. In this setting, students are expected to apply their newly acquired theoretical and practical knowledge in relation to the implementation, interpretation and presentation of their individual research project.

  • Learning Methods

    Skills-Based Learning

    Students will benefit from practical experience in the performance of cutting edge clinical research. Content will be integrated across domains (epidemiology integrated with biostatistics, policy with practice and so on). The theory presented in each core curriculum topic will be further integrated with complementary hands-on sessions.

    Examples of these exercises include: computer programming classes using real-life datasets; journal clubs hosted by international editors and reviewers; and secondary analyses of clinical trials, led by internationally renowned clinical researchers.

    Didactic Lectures

    While traditional didactic lectures are used during the residential workshops to deliver several core learning objectives, the program also pushes pedagogic innovation by incorporating contemporary teaching methods like short lectures and associated practice sessions.

    Longitudinal Teaching and Seminars

    The longitudinal learning phase of the program uses a mixture of didactic lectures and 'flipped classroom' methods. These guided sessions are facilitated by the faculty member to ensure the core learning objectives are met, and are designed to promote communication skills, interaction and self- and team-based learning.

    World-renowned investigators from the Harvard community will deliver in-person and on-line live webinars, discussing the application of clinical research methodology to their specialized field. Students will also use seminars to present updates on their individual research projects to their peers for constructive feedback and advice. Each student will present at least two updates during the course of the two-year program.

    Individualized Learning

    Opportunities for customized learning include training in scientific communication at the New England Journal of Medicine and receipt of individual feedback on grant and manuscript writing.

    Intensive Workshops

    There are four intensive workshops throughout the MMSCI program. Each will be preceded by a recorded online lecture series, designed as a primer for the specific themes and material that will be covered in the subsequent workshop. Journal clubs, office hours, computer laboratory classes and team-based projects and presentations will complement the didactic sessions during each three-week residence.

    The focus of the first workshop will be core instruction in epidemiology, biostatistics and ethical principles for clinical research. The second workshop will focus on additional concepts in biostatistics and epidemiology, genetic epidemiology and scientific communication. The third workshop will cover drug development and safety. The fourth and final workshop will feature leadership and management for the clinical researcher.

    Mentored Research Experience

    All students are required to complete a thesis at the end of the mentored research experience. This must take the form of two first-author manuscripts submitted and accepted to a peer-reviewed journal.

    The purpose of this requirement is two-fold:

    1. To highlight the importance of publishing quality research in peer-reviewed academic journals;
    2. To promote excellence in the practice of scientific communication.

    The thesis requirements must be completed in a Harvard-affiliated laboratory under the direct supervision of a thesis committee that consists of the student, the primary mentor, one external member (i.e. someone who is not in the student’s primary laboratory and who is not directly involved in the student’s research) and an MMSCI program representative.

    The names and contact information for the thesis committee members must be submitted to the program office prior to the start of the Mentored Research Experience.

  • Core Courses

    CI701 Clinical Data Science: Design and Analytics I

    This course introduces methods for the generation and analysis of data for clinical research through seamless integration of epidemiology, biostatistics and machine learning.

    The course is structured in three components that correspond to the three main objectives of clinical research: description, prediction and causal inference. The descriptive component introduces different data types and study designs, summary measures (including frequency and occurrence measures) and statistical inference (hypothesis testing, confidence intervals). The predictive component introduces association measures, regression (linear, logistic) and other learning algorithms with applications to screening and clinical classification. The causal component introduces a causal inference (counterfactual) framework via randomized clinical trials, which covers survival analyses, sample size calculation, biases and effect heterogeneity.

    The course emphasizes critical thinking and practical applications, including assignments based on articles published in medical journals and a case study at the end of each week. All methods are taught along with Stata software to implement them.

    CI708 Clinical Data Science: Design and Analytics II

    This course extends the topics introduced in Design and Analytics I for each of the three goals of clinical research: description, prediction and causal inference.

    The description sessions discuss data wrangling, data visualization and unsupervised learning with a focus on clustering. The prediction sessions discuss building and evaluation of predictive models via regression and other learning algorithms. The causal inference sessions discuss advanced design of randomized clinical trials (factorial, non-inferiority, adaptive, crossover, cluster-randomized trials), and evidence synthesis using meta-analysis.

    The course emphasizes critical thinking and practical applications, including assignments based on articles published in medical journals. All methods are taught along with Stata software to implement them.

    CI722 Clinical Data Science: Comparative Effectiveness Research I

    This course introduces causal inference methodology when randomized trials are not feasible. The courses focuses on the use of epidemiologic studies, electronic health records and other big data sources for comparative effectiveness and safety research. Key concepts of bias (confounding, selection bias, measurement bias) are described via causal diagrams. Methods for confounding adjustment (stratification, outcome regression, propensity scores, matching and standardization) are introduced along with an emphasis on formulating well-defined questions in clinical research.

    The course emphasizes critical thinking and practical applications, including assignments based on articles published in medical journals. All methods are taught along with Stata software to implement them.

    CI732 Clinical Data Science: Comparative Effectiveness Research II

    This course extends the topics introduced in Comparative Effectiveness Research I.

    The course covers efficient epidemiologic designs (case-control, case-cohort, case-crossover), advanced methods for confounding adjustment (inverse probability weighting, parametric g-formula) for the comparison of sustained treatment strategies and instrumental variable estimation. The course also covers techniques for the secondary analysis of randomized clinical trials in the presence of deviations from protocol.

    The course emphasizes critical thinking and practical applications, including assignments based on articles published in medical journals. All methods are taught along with Stata software to implement them.

    CI700 Ethics in Clinical Research and the Institutional Review Board

    This course reviews some common challenges in the conduct of patient-oriented research. Lectures examine the history and evolution of ethical codes and regulations; the role and responsibility of physicians as investigators; the preparation of research protocol applications and informed consent documents; and the challenges of conducting research involving children and adolescents.

    CI702 Clinical Trials

    This course focuses on how to conduct clinical trials effectively. The course content includes lectures on study design and implementation, including different designs, endpoints, study protocol, study population, recruitment, baseline assessment, randomization, stratification and blinding. Other key issues that are covered include data analysis and sample size and power, treatment regimens and follow-up procedures and monitoring and interim analysis plans. Lastly, other areas covered include data management and ethical issues, including protection of human subjects.

    CI720 Scientific Communication
    Publishing in peer-reviewed journals and obtaining independent grant funding are critical for success in clinical research. The MMSCI program places special emphasis on developing skills in writing and the presentation of research data. The module offers students several unique opportunities to develop such skills. Examples include visits to the New England Journal of Medicine editorial meetings and the opportunity for each student to have their individual writing critiqued by the New England manuscript editors. Innovative pedagogic methods will facilitate the development of presentation skills through self- and peer-review of elevator pitches, oral presentations and sessions on how to give feedback.

    CI724 Genetic Epidemiology

    The goals of this course are to provide clinical researchers with the skills to:

    • Address opportunities in incorporating genetic studies and answering specific research questions
    • Understand basic genotyping techniques
    • Understand the basics of genetic study design and analysis
    • Identify and use publicly available databases for genetic research
    • Understand the principles of ethical conduct of genetic research.

    CI712 Leadership and Management

    This course examines different aspects of working with, managing and leading a team. Lectures will discuss the skills and techniques that are needed to manage a talented group of people effectively, pilot successful collaborations within and outside a group, navigate the complexities of the institution and manage the inevitable conflicts that arise in a high-stakes environment.

    CI740 Drug Development and Safety

    This course will include topics such as: How are Drugs Discovered and Developed, Case Study of the Pre-clinical Stages of Drug Development, Moving a Compound through the Drug Development Process, Good Manufacturing Practices--a Global Perspective and Overview of Diagnostic Device Development.

  • Academic and Attendance Requirements

    In order to graduate with the degree of "Master of Medical Science in Clinical Investigation", students must fulfill all of the program’s academic and attendance requirements, including completion of the 64-credit curriculum and a successful oral thesis defense (two first author original manuscripts; one accepted submitted and one submitted to a peer-reviewed journal). The MMSCI degree will not be granted to any student who is not in good standing or against whom a disciplinary charge is pending. In addition, a student’s term bill must be paid in full before he/she will be awarded the degree.

    A more detailed look at the HMS academic and financial policies can be found in the Student Handbook.

    Evaluation of Didactic Components

    Students receive a final grade for each core subject module they take. This may be a letter grade or a satisfactory/unsatisfactory rating. In addition, students are evaluated throughout each course through regular homework assignments, online quizzes, class participation, and team-based projects that are presented orally and in written form.

    Evaluation of the Mentored Research Experience

    Students must meet regularly (4 times over the two-year period) with their thesis committees and submit progress reports on each occasion. The thesis committee will comprise of the primary research mentor, a content mentor approved by the MMSCI Program leadership and a MMSCI program representative.

  • Program Schedule

    THREE INTENSIVE WORKSHOPS:  The central pillars of the MMSCI program will consist of three intensive workshops at the beginning, mid-point and end of the two years. The didactic sessions will be complemented by journal clubs, office hours, computer laboratory classes, team-based projects and presentations.

    LONGITUDINAL IN-PERSON CLASS:  Between each workshop, further exploration of contemporary research topics will occur at weekly interactive sessions. Novel pedagogic approaches for this longitudinal series include the use of 'flipped classroom' methods, where students review and dissect learning material in advance of facilitated discussions.

    MENTORED RESEARCH EXPERIENCE: The core feature of the MMSCI program is the mentored research experience in a Harvard-based research group. During the two years of the program, under the guidance of their primary mentor and dedicated thesis committee, each student is required to develop and execute his or her individual research projects. In order to graduate, students must submit and defend a thesis based on their mentored research experience. This should take the form of two original manuscripts in which the student is first-author.

    Comparative Research Pathway | Clinical Trials Pathway | Translational Science Pathway