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Welcome Students!

Learn firsthand about why to choose the USC-Caltech MD-PhD Program from a student who’s been there.

Meet a Few More Students

  • Welcome! I am a 3rd year PhD (5th Year MD/PhD) student studying Medical Engineering at Caltech. With the top-notch clinical curriculum and research expertise provided by the combined forces of the Keck School of Medicine and Caltech, there are few programs that rival the training you will receive here. Even so, the thing that makes our program special is its community. At Keck, you will experience organized mentorship through hospital experiences from the first week on campus. The administration also focuses on fostering strong bonds and solidarity among the medical school class. At Caltech and USC, you will be exposed to some of the most cutting-edge research in the field, while learning to understand it from a fundamental level. Again, you will be connected to the brightest mentors and peers who will push you to be a better scientist, physician, student, mentor, and person. Many people in their PhD have strong support networks, including mentors and peers, at both institutions. The most important (and often overlooked) community you will have is that with the other students in the MD-PhD program. From the first day, I felt like I had a team of experienced students ready to give me advice about how to navigate medical school and grad school. I have friends in all years of the program and, because the program can be particularly long and require a lot of you, it is important that we have people who are going through the same thing and understand. This extends to the MD-PhD administration as well – I know all the people involved with making the program run and they know me as well. They care about our success as individuals in our career. From Roland Rapanot, the program admin who solves all my logistical problems with a single email (and deserves a raise), to Dr. Brian Lee, the director who meets with us individually once a semester and has made rapid improvements to the quality of life for the students in his short tenure in the position, all the people involved with this program want you to succeed. I am almost halfway through this program and I still feel blessed to be surrounded by such amazing mentors and peers. I am excited to welcome you to the program!

  • Drayton HarveyFourth Year Medical Student

    Welcome to the USC-Caltech joint MD-PhD program! I think one of the best questions you can ask students when considering a program is, if you went back in time would you do it all over again? Thanks to the community here at Keck I can answer with a resounding YES. Part of it is that we offer a plethora of unrivaled benefits, from having one of the most diverse clinical training settings in the country to the ability to conduct research under the mentorship of Nobel laureates. The real reason however is because of the program’s dedication to developing physician-citizen-scientists.


    As a medical student I have been able to see patients not just in the hospital, but on the streets of Los Angeles, learning from the most vulnerable folks in need of help. We at Keck believe in the power of community by working with and learning from those who have been historically minoritized and marginalized to fight health disparities. The exposure to care at private institutions like Keck Medical Center and public safety net hospitals like LA General Medical Center provides us with unparalleled training across the spectrum of care settings. We also have access to one of the best children’s hospitals in the country thanks to our partnership with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Importantly, regardless of where you are training, Keck is dedicated to your wellbeing and provides us as trainees with the support we need to maintain our mental and physical health throughout our training. Becoming a medical student does not mean you are no longer a person and I am grateful for the support we have here to preserve our humanity in the face of what it means to be a future physician.


    We believe that being a citizen means your education and responsibility as a physician trainee extend outside the classroom. That’s never been more true than today as government intrusion into medical practice threatens physician autonomy and the sacred physician-patient relationship. It is why health policy is part of our curriculum and why community and justice are strong arcs throughout our education. I personally benefited from Keck’s dedication to our development as citizens by our program’s support in my involvement in advocacy through the American Medical Association. This ultimately led me to serve as the medical student member of the Board of Trustees, learning along the way what it means to represent the will of all trainees and physicians. Being able to work as an advocate during my training has allowed me to have an education in making systemic change and operating within the larger health ecosystem while I also train in caring for individual patients. Whether it was by lobbying local and federal governments, getting funds to those in need, or changing medical practice and education to right structural injustices embedded in our profession, I got to see that we have the power to make a difference right now to help our patients and colleagues by fixing our broken system. Our program has allowed and encouraged me to do just that from day one.


    Finally, as a result of the incredible amount of collaboration and innovation across our institutions, I was able to successfully obtain an NIH F30 pre-doctoral fellowship based on my thesis project. This was the result of having access to state of the art core facilities, collaborators across the region within and outside our program, and the guidance of not just our program’s leadership, but also the many F30 recipients within our program who all helped me through the process. Thanks to our program’s support and resources, I have been able to present my work domestically and abroad numerous times, including as the sole trainee panelist amongst global experts in my field. Yes these success are the result of direct program investment in my development as a scientist, but they are also the result of our amazing family here. We constantly hold each other up during the challenging parts of this journey and share our insights we have gained over time so that each new member of our program has an easier time than we did navigating this path.

    We are truly a family here, I have always felt supported and cared for by my peers and our program. That is why no matter what difficulties may occur I would always choose to train here again and again. I cannot wait for the remainder of my training journey here and I look forward to welcoming you to our family soon!