Master of Science in Translational Research (MSTR)

Navigate Master of Science in Translational Research

Only one application is required for both the MSTR and ITMAT Funding.

This combined funding application deadline for students enrolling July 1, 2024 has been extended to April 1, 2024.

Contact us to learn more.

MSTR Program Structure: Curriculum, Career Development & Mentorship, Research ProjectThe objective of the Master of Science in Translational Research (MSTR) program is to provide students with in-depth instruction in the fundamental skills, methodology and principles necessary to become a well trained translational investigator. The program is designed to meet these objectives through:

Trainees are expected to complete a primary research project of their own design under the supervision of their primary mentor. The primary mentor will also play a role in helping the student identify a feasible research question for the thesis. The thesis should consolidate students' knowledge of the principles and practice of translational research, and provide their first experience in writing a comprehensive NIH grant style proposal.

Upon successful completion of the MSTR program, graduates are expected to have developed a strong foundation in the fundamental techniques of translational research. They should be able to apply contemporary research tools to clinically relevant areas of investigation. The goal of the MSTR program is to produce clinical researchers who are competitive in seeking research support and who are knowledgeable about the complex issues associated with conducting sound translational research. The MSTR program will also assist in the promotion of translational research as a discipline within the Penn community.

Program Objectives | Program Goals | Thesis | Mentoring

Program Objectives

The primary objective is to produce a cadre of highly trained and sophisticated investigators adept in the skills necessary for the translational investigator; to prepare students for an academic career and to position them for future careers as successful academic researchers who will become leaders in their field of research interest.

Program Goals

The program is designed to meet these objectives though the provision of didactic in-depth instruction, a formal mentorship program, formal (wet or dry) laboratory training, and specific ongoing guidance with hands-on exposure to protocol and grant development. Individuals in this program are provided with the expertise and methods to attain their goals through learning the basic components of scientific training, the specific methods associated with their translational research interest, as well as training in biomedical research ethics and good clinical practice. MSTR students learn how to independently formulate meaningful hypotheses, design and conduct interpretable experiments, adhere to good laboratory and clinical practices, analyze results critically, understand the broad significance of their research findings, and uphold the highest ethical standards in research. The development of additional skills—including oral and written communication, grant writing, and laboratory management—are considered integral to this training.


Students are required to engage in a research project of their own design under the supervision of the primary mentor. At the time of application, each student specifies the project they will pursue, along with the primary mentor who will supervise the research project. Students will use class material and homework assignments to assist in protocol development.

The research should be translational in nature and involve direct measurements on patient-derived samples or the use of innovative therapeutic or diagnostic techniques with laboratory-based elements. There should be demonstrable clinical relevance. The protocol is to be designed by the student under the direct supervision of the mentor. Where appropriate, dual mentorship should be considered; including a basic scientist expert in the technology being used and a clinical investigator expert in the condition being studied. The primary protocol should account for at least 75-80% of the student's commitment to the program.

Trainees are expected to complete a thesis that involves designing a research project, writing a formal research proposal, performing the study described in it, preparing 1-2 comprehensive scholarly scientific paper(s) reporting the results, and presenting and defending the thesis at a public seminar. The defense portion of the seminar will be a formal oral defense of the thesis with three examiners.

Mentoring Program

An essential component of the MSTR degree program is the mentoring program. Effective mentoring is critical not only for research training but also to allow the trainee to develop into an independent investigator. Read more here

Learn more about the mentor and mentee experience:


Program Leadership

Emma A. Meagher, M.D., Program Director
Perelman School of Medicine
8032 Maloney Building
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283
Telephone: 215-662-2174

ITMAT Education Staff

Rachel McGarrigle, MSEd, Education Director
Megan Maxwell, MSW,  Senior Associate Director
Jessica German, MSEd, Associate Director
Perelman School of Medicine
8035 Maloney Building
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283