Doctors and nurses walking through a hospital


VCU's Medical Scientist Training Program, which leads to dual M.D./Ph.D. degrees, educates diverse physician-scientists to improve human health through discovery in basic and social sciences and biomedical engineering.

The VCU School of Medicine has had a recognized M.D./Ph.D. program since 1986. Over the years, the school's commitment to the program has grown alongside it, providing support to all students with paid tuition, fees, health insurance and stipend. In 2022, the program received a prestigious MSTP award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, placing VCU within an elite group of universities that have an NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and an MSTP award.

For more information about the M.D./Ph.D. program, including details about the admissions process, see the VCU School of Medicine website.

Clinical Students

Jessica Kiernan

  • Education: Virginia Tech University, B.S. in Biology (2008); Georgetown University, M.Sc. Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases (2011)
  • Hometown: Lancaster, PA
  • PhD Advisor: April Kimmel, PhD
  • Bio: Building on a pre-medical school career within the field of global health and infectious disease, Jessica's research interests include understanding the landscape of factors that lead to increased disease burden in vulnerable populations.  She is interested in evaluating key drivers of disease transmission, opportunities for intervention and translatable, evidence-based models of treatment delivery, specifically within the HIV positive population in the United States.  In her free time, Jessica enjoys exploring Richmond with her 16-month-old, SJ, and continuing global travel with her husband, Scott, with over 80 countries visited between them. 

Grad Phase Students

Hannah Shadowen

  • Education: University of Virginia, B.S. in Neuroscience (Minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality), Master of Public Health
  • Hometown: Richmond, VA
  • Ph.D. Advisor: Andrew Barnes, Ph.D.
  • Publications
  • Bio: Hannah Shadowen is interested in studying chronic health conditions with a particular focus on mental health from a population and epidemiologic perspective. She is interested in how social determinants of health impact patients and their well-being. Hannah is a Richmond native who enjoys rock climbing, running, good books and spending time with friends and family.

Augustus (Gus) White

  • Education: University of Tennessee-Knoxville, B.A. in College Scholars with a Concentration in Health Economics and Policy (2018)
  • Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
  • Ph.D. Advisor: Andrew Barnes, Ph.D.
  • Bio: Gus' research interests lie in the fields of behavioral economics and public policy, particularly as they apply to public health. The current focus of Gus' research is on using techniques in behavioral economics to assess abuse liability of electronic cigarettes as well as better understanding state-level trends in opioid use and health insurance coverage. Outside of research, Gus enjoys playing golf and following his beloved Tennessee Volunteers. 

Sarah Marks

  • Education: Yale University, B.S. Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics (2012); UNC-Chapel Hill, M.S. Biostatistics (2016)
  • Hometown: Atlanta, GA
  • Ph.D. Advisor: Andrew Barnes, Ph.D.
  • Publications
  • Bio: Sarah is interested in using quantitative approaches to  study the delivery of healthcare and improve health outcomes, particularly in underserved populations. She is excited to be in Virginia to see the impact of Medicaid expansion on healthcare in the state. Outside of research, Sarah has visited over 35 countries and looks forward to traveling again; she also enjoys reading and hiking.