Clinical Program

Clinical Program


The goal of the optional clinical program, a unique aspect of our curriculum, is to encourage students to develop perspective on how laboratory work can be applied in the clinic. This includes understanding:

  • how clinical trials work
  • what constitutes a significant clinical result
  • the difficulties of proving that a treatment is effective
  • how human physiology and the unique aspects of diseases can dictate the method of intervention
  • existing mechanisms and technologies for developing innovative treatments
  • challenges faced by clinicians

Clinic Visits

It is important for students to develop an understanding for and appreciation of the human side of disease and to think about clinical challenges from a basic science perspective. In addition to the many clinically oriented lectures in the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Core Course, first-year students spend two half days — one in the fall and one in the spring — observing various Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center clinics.

Students have an opportunity to discuss observations with their clinical sponsors and to talk about how basic science can provide tools to improve diagnosis and treatment. Our students have said:

  • “This is easily the most inspired and original component of the first-year curriculum. It really gets at the mission statement of fostering the interaction between scientists and clinicians. This was the kind of element that made me choose to come to Gerstner Sloan Kettering and it completely delivered.”
  • “In clinical cancer biology and other sections in the coursework we were taught the drug development cycle and preclinical studies for new drugs. The clinical visits helped us to understand how these studies are done and their effect. After having talked to the clinicians it was clear as to how these studies are conducted. This helped us to integrate the basic biology studies like cell cycle and DNA synthesis and their implications in cancer.”
  • “I believe it is important to remember that the overall goal of our work is to improve the quality of life of patients and prevent/treat cancer. Interacting with patients and doctors provided an important reminder of this goal.”

Our clinicians also believe in the importance of laying the foundation of clinical understanding for basic scientists and strongly support this aspect of our program. Our clinical sponsors have commented:

  • “The experience from my standpoint was excellent. This is a great opportunity to see how complementary the lab and bedside are, and may help the students shape their future research projects. It is also a good opportunity for the students and faculty to build ties for collaborative work.”
  • “I welcome Gerster Sloan Kettering students to my outpatient office to meet patients and see firsthand the clinical issues that can help focus basic research.”