Weill Cornell adds graduate programs at Houston Methodist

In an expansion of its biomedical education curricula, Weill Cornell Medicine is launching an additional site for graduate programs at Houston Methodist for the 2021-22 academic year.

This new site, offered by the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Houston Methodist, builds on the 16-year academic affiliation between the two academic medical institutions.

The Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, based in New York City, will offer doctorates at Houston Methodist in two areas of study: physiology, biophysics and structural biology (PBSB); and in neuroscience. Applications to the PBSB program will be accepted in February 2021 for the fall semester.

Initially, the program expects to enroll four students in each class, with plans to expand to eight students over five years. Applicants will undertake the same curriculum as students who complete the programs in New York City, and will complete their research studies in Houston, jointly mentored by Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences faculty located at both sites.

Houston-based students will also have the opportunity to travel to New York City for retreats. They will receive Cornell’s Doctor of Philosophy degrees, the first time Weill Cornell Medicine is awarding the degree outside of New York state.

“This partnership between Weill Cornell Medicine and Houston Methodist allows us to broaden and enrich existing collaborations in research, education and clinical care between our two institutions,” said Dr. Barbara Hempstead, dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and the O. Wayne Isom Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Bringing our top-ranked graduate program to Houston Methodist will expand faculty expertise within our graduate school, open up new avenues for faculty and student research collaboration and add greater diversity to our student body.”

“Over the past 16 years, our academic affiliation with Weill Cornell Medicine has resulted in many wonderful research collaborations,” said Dr. Dirk Sostman, president of the Houston Methodist Academic Institute. “This new expansion will allow us more opportunities to recruit top faculty and continue making discoveries that will help our patients.”

“One of Weill Cornell Medicine’s enduring missions is to cultivate the next generation of outstanding scientists, whose fresh ideas and ingenuity can drive pivotal advances in science and medicine,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and provost of medical affairs of Cornell University. “Our new Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences site at Houston Methodist exemplifies that commitment.”

The Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences provides professional scientific training for doctoral students, researchers in health policy and healthcare delivery, and aspiring physician assistants. The graduate school’s New York City site – in partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute – offers more than a dozen doctoral and master’s degree programs in disciplines including biochemistry, pharmacology, biophysics, immunology and microbiology, clinical epidemiology and health services research, and computational biology. More than 1,800 students have earned doctorates from the graduate school, with around 65 to 70 matriculating each year.

One of the United States’ largest private, nonprofit hospitals, Houston Methodist has produced cutting-edge medical discoveries, including the world’s first multiple-organ transplant and gene therapy for prostatic cancer. The medical center is highly regarded for its biomedical engineering expertise and research facilities, which complement many of Weill Cornell Medicine’s areas of strength. This includes its Translational Imaging Center and RNA Core, which develops RNA technologies for research and clinical use.

Weill Cornell Medicine Dean Emeritus Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr. in 2004 forged an academic affiliation between the two institutions as a way to advance science and medicine and to bridge the nation’s geographic regions. The partnership has flourished over the years; the institutions have collaborated on multiple clinical and biomedical research efforts, with many physicians and scientists at Houston Methodist retaining faculty appointments at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Houston Methodist offers clinical clerkships to Weill Cornell Medical College students, and the two institutions have established a fellowship in biomedical ethics and a Mentored Clinical Research Training Program for early-career physicians at Houston Methodist.

The inclusion of Houston Methodist as an additional site for doctoral programs has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Division of Workforce, Academic Affairs and Research.

“Students will matriculate in Weill Cornell Medicine’s rigorous, top-ranked graduate program while taking advantage of Houston Methodist’s state-of-the-art facilities and technology, learning from and collaborating with world class faculty at both institutions,” said Dr. Anjali Rajadhyaksha, associate dean of program development and a professor of neuroscience in pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine. “We look forward to welcoming our first class of Weill Cornell Medicine doctoral candidates at Houston Methodist.”


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