The ECS launched in 2006 an MD/PhD program. The intention is to have medical students awarded a PhD degree before enrolment in formal assistance duties in the hospitals. Inspired in the MD/PhD programs of major USA universities, the MD/PhD students at the ECS interrupt their medical training once completed the 5th year of the medical degree. For three years the students develop their PhD thesis. After defending student complete 6th and final year of the medical degree.

In order to be accepted in the program, students must have successfully completed summer laboratory rotations at the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS). The ECS offers annually about fifty laboratory projects, which represents an excellent opportunity for medical students since their 1st year to contact research activities, and to acquire laboratory skills useful even if students do not formally enroll in a PhD program.

Because MD/PhD programs as this are not yet available in other Portuguese medical schools, and are seldom in Europe, the ECS established a protocol with two USA Universities: Columbia University in New York and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Presently, four students of our MD/PhD program are developing their PhD thesis projects in these universities.