News » SMHS Study Shows Benefits of Research Scholarly Concentration

SMHS Study Shows Benefits of Research Scholarly Concentration

A new study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine has found that the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science’s (SMHS) Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Scholarly Concentration is effective in training physician-researchers, regardless of how much research experience students had prior to entering medical school. 

“We had predicted that students who came into medical school with a lot research were more likely to be successful because they had experience,” said author Alison Hall, PhD, associate dean for research workforce development at SMHS. “But what surprised us was that it didn’t matter if you’d done two years at the NIH or you’d never touched a test tube, the CTR scholarly concentration had a significant impact on medical students who go on to research careers.”

Many medical schools have similar programs which enrich students’ experiences and expose them to the medical research field. About 20 percent of first-year medical students at SMHS choose research as their concentration. 

Hall and the study’s other authors, Laura Radville, PhD, former research program manager at SMHS; Anette Aldous, MPH, senior research assistant at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW; and Jennifer Arnold, former program assistant, compared data from 335 graduates from 2009–18 who participated in the research concentration with the same number of graduates with no scholarly concentration. They found that Research Scholarly Concentration students were more likely to place in a highly selective residency, more likely to publish after medical school, and almost four times more likely to take a job at an academic health center than their non-concentration peers.

Hall added that the timing of the Research Scholarly Concentration may have a larger impact than research prior to medical school because students are learning about research at the same time they are immersing themselves in medicine. “I think a big part is that the research is related to their interests in medicine,” she said. “That’s a powerful motivator to do research.”

The SMHS Research Scholarly Concentration, led by Hall and Naomi Luban, MD, chair of the Institutional Review Board and medical director of the Office for the Protection of Human Subjects at Children’s National Medical Center, matches students with mentors in their area of interest and consists of a research lecture series, a large research project conducted during the first and second years of medical school, research presentations, as well as a scholarly project, such as a research manuscript submitted for publication or a poster presentation at a professional meeting.

To learn more about the Research Scholarly Concentration, visit