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Welcome to the 35th Annual MD PhD National Student Conference!​ Set in colorful Copper, Colorado, the MD PhD National Student Conference offers a weekend of science, collaboration, and fun!

Save the Date: July 10th - 12th, 2020

Register Here!​

**We are keeping a close eye on the current COVID-19 situation. The conference is still months away and we are hopeful it will improve before July. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this page should anything changes.**
Check this JAMA page​ for updates on COVID-19.

Conference Schedule:
2020 Copper Conference Schedule modified 3 Website version 1 merged.jpg


Socio App: an electronic program

This year we are using an event hosting app in lieu of traditional conferece programs in an effort to be more enviromentally consious.  Please download the Socio Event App from your device's app store.  Search for the "35th Annual MD/PhD National Student Conference" and join the event.  From the app you'll be able to access the conference schedule, important annoncements, and other important conference information and documents.  If you are having trouble downloading the app or finding our conference event, click here​ for more information or visit us at the registration desk during the conference for help!  If you prefer your own electronic copy, a pdf version of the full length program is avaliable for download. 

Keynote Speakers:

Stay tuned for the roster of distinguished keynote speakers.

Here is the roster of keynote speakers from 2019's MD PhD National Student Conference:

Peter Agre, M.D.

Sunday, June 14th, Bighorn Room  -  6:00 - 7:00 PM​

Dr. Peter Agre.jpg 
Dr. Peter Agre, M.D., is a professor of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also holds an appointment in the department of molecular biology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Agre’s research has focused on the molecular aspects of human diseases, including hemolytic anemias, blood group antigens and malaria. He received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Roderick MacKinnon of Rockefeller University for the discovery of aquaporins, water channels that facilitate the movement of water across cell membranes. He is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. For the past ten years Peter Agre’s lab has focused upon the role of aquaporins in malaria.

Dr. Agre received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Augsburg College. He earned his M.D. from Johns Hopkins. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals of Cleveland and performed a hematology-oncology fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Agre returned to Johns Hopkins as a postdoctoral fellow in cell biology before joining the faculty in 1984. He became vice chancellor for science and technology at Duke University Medical Center in 2005. He returned to Johns Hopkins in 2008. Dr. Agre is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.​

Huda Akil, Ph.D.​

Saturday, June 13th, Bighorn Room  -  6:00 - 7:00 PM​​
Dr. Huda Akil.jpg 
Dr. Huda Akil, Ph.D. is the Gardner Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and the co-Director of the Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Dr. Akil has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the brain biology of emotions, including pain, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. She and her colleagues provided the first physiological evidence for a role of endorphins in the brain; and showed that endorphins are activated by stress and cause pain inhibition.

Dr. Akil’s current research investigates the genetic, molecular and neural mechanisms underlying stress, addiction and mood disorders. She is engaged in large scale studies to discover new genes and proteins that cause vulnerability to major depression and bipolar illness. She is the author of over 500 original scientific papers, and has been recognized as one of the most highly cited neuroscientists by the ISI Citation Index.

Dr. Akil‘s scientific contributions have been recognized with numerous honors and awards. These include the Pacesetter Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1993, and with Dr. Stanley Watson, the Pasarow Award for Neuroscience Research in 1994. In 1998, she received the Sachar Award from Columbia University and the Bristol Myers Squibb Unrestricted Research Funds Award. She is also the recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award and the Patricia Goldman-Rakic Prize for Cognitive Neuroscience (2007). In 1994, she was elected to the membership of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Science. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000. In 2004, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.​

Cato Laurencin, M.D. Ph.D.

Friday, June 12th, Bighorn Room  -  6:00 - 7:00 PM​

Dr. Cato Laurencin.jpg

Dr. Cato Laurencin, M.D. Ph.D. is
 a University Professor at the University of Connecticut and is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He is internationally renowned for his scientific work in biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and a new field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. He and his colleagues were the first to develop nanofiber technologies for tissue regeneration and his group is credited for pioneering polymer-ceramic systems for bone regeneration. As an engineer/scientist and practicing surgeon, Laurencin has been in a unique position to develop new technologies and bring those technologies to patients. Work in the development of engineered systems for bone and ligament regeneration have inspired new technologies that are now available to patients, that are FDA cleared, and/or present in the clinical pipeline.

Dr. Laurencin earned his B.S.E. degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and his M.D., Magna Cum Laude from the Harvard Medical School where he received the Robinson Award for Surgery. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Laurencin completed residency training at the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Surgery Program where he was Chief Resident in Orthopaedic Surgery at the Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He completed fellowship training in Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Cornell Medical College, in New York.

Dr. Laurencin has also been honored with numerous awards for his work. The American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering awarded him the Pierre Galletti Award, medical and biological engineering’s highest honor. His work on engineering tissues was honored by Scientific American Magazine as one of the 50 greatest achievements in science in 2007. His work was also highlighted by National Geographic Magazine in its “100 Discoveries That Have Changed Our World” edition. Dr. Laurencin is also the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in ceremonies at the White House. It is the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement.


Douglas R. Lowy, M.D.

Sunday, June 14th, Bighorn Room  -  1:00 - 2:00 PM​

Dr. Douglas Lowy.jpg 

Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., is Chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology and he is the current Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Since 2010, has also served as the Deputy Director of the NCI. Dr. Lowy received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine in 1968, and trained in internal medicine at Stanford University and dermatology at Yale University. He has directed a research laboratory at NCI since 1975, after receiving training as a Research Associate in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Lowy is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and of the Institute of Medicine of the NAS. For his research with John Schiller on technology that enabled the preventive HPV vaccines, he and Dr. Schiller have jointly received numerous honors, including the 2007 Federal Employee of the Year Service to America Medal from the Partnership for Public Service, the 2011 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award, the 2012 National Medal of Technology & Innovation (awarded in 2014), and the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, the country’s most prestigious honor for biomedical research. Dr. Lowy has also received the National Medal of Honor for Basic Research from the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Lowy has two main research areas. One focuses on basic and translational aspects of human papillomavirus infection. His joint research with John Schiller in the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology (LCO) has identified many aspects of the human papillomavirus (HPV) life cycle, developed technology underlying the FDA-approved HPV vaccines, and elucidated mechanisms for the high efficacy of the vaccines. The second area focuses on cancer genes, currently emphasizing the DLC1 tumor suppressor, which encodes a Rho-GAP that is down-regulated in a wide variety of cancers, leading to the high Rho activity seen in many advanced cancers. This research has identified important scaffold functions for DLC1, including protein-protein interactions that contribute to the regulation of its activity and its role as a tumor suppressor, and identified kinases that activate and inactivate the functions of DLC1 and the mechanisms by which they do so.

Padmanee Sharma, M.D. Ph.D.

Saturday, June 13th, Bighorn Room  -  11:00 - 12:00 PM​
Dr. Padmanee Sharma.png ​

Dr. Sharma is a leading figure in oncology, specializing in renal, bladder and prostate cancer. Her primary focus is to understand the mechanisms and pathways within the immune system responsible for tumor rejection. Her immunotherapy work includes numerous collaborations with Dr. James P. Allison who received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Sharma has tested new prostate cancer immunotherapies, looking for differences in T cell subsets and function between pre-therapy blood and tissue samples versus post-therapy blood and tissue samples.

She has received the ASCO Young Investigator Award, the MD Anderson Physician Scientist Award and ASCO Career Development Award and her research enabled her to compete successfully for the Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development Award and the American Cancer Society Mentored Research Scholar Grant. Dr. Sharma is also an investigator on awarded AACR/SU2C/CRI cancer immunotherapy dream team grant. Dr. Sharma attended Boston University for her B.A. in Biology and M.A. in biotechnology. She also holds a Ph.D. in immunology and M.D. from Pennsylvania State University. She received her residency training in Internal Medicine at Cornell Medical Center and her fellowship training in Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.​ 

Student Presentations:

Oral Presentations:
Saturday June 11th, Ptarmigan Rooms, Multiple Sessions

Session # 1:  Saturday, June 11th 9:00 - 9:50 AM

1) Cancer Biology
2) Bioengineering & Structural Biology

Session # 2:  Saturday, June 11th 10:00 - 10:50 AM​
3) Immunology
4) Molecular & Cellular Biology

Session # 3:  Saturday, June 11th 1:00 - 1:50 PM
5) General Medicine I
6) Microbiology & Infectious Diseases

Session # 4:  Saturday, June 11th 2:00 - 2:50 PM
7) General Medicine II
8) Neuroscience

Oral Presentation Abstract Submission Deadline: May 22nd, 2020

See registration for abstract submission instructions.

Poster Sessions: 

Session # 1:  Friday, June 10th, Jack's  -  7:00 - 9:00 PM,  
Session # 2:  Saturday, June 11th, Jack's  -  4:00 - 6:00 PM 

Poster board size: 40 x 60 inches

Poster Abstract Submission Deadline: June 26th, 2020

See registration for abstract submission instructions.

Diversity Travel Award:

Diversity Travel Awards in the amount of $1000 each are being offered. The intent of these travel awards is to increase attendance of diverse students to the National MD/PhD Student Conference​.  Recipients of Travel Awards will be chosen on a competitive basis by a review committee. The key criterion for selection will be the quality of the research abstract submitted by the award applicant describing their recent scientific work

Diversity Travel Award Deadline:  May 22nd, 2020

See registration for abstract submission instructions.


PSTP Residency Planning & Research Resources Showcases ​​​

​Saturday, June 11th  -  3:00 - 4:30 PM

Research Residency & PSTP Showcase​​ 
Jack's  -  3:00 - 4:30 PM

In addition to being a fantastic student conference in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the National MD/PhD program is a great way to learn about future career paths after your MD/PhD training. In particular, this year's conference will feature a residency exhibit session that will delve into research track and physician scientist training residency programs. Residency directors from across the country will be here to talk to students. We will have residency directors in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and more specialties give a short panel explaining the basic premise of research residencies. After this, students will have the opportunity to talk to each of the directors in a career fair/exhibit booth style.

Stay tuned for roster of confirmed programs.

Here is the list of confirmed programs from 2019's MD PhD National Student Conference:

Confirmed Programs:

·       Baylor, Pediatrics 

·       Cinncinati Childrens, Pediatrics 

·       U. Cinncinati, Internal Medicine 

·       Duke, Internal Medicine

·       Harvard, Internal Medicine 

·       U. Colorado, Internal Medicine

·       U. Iowa, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, & Psychiatry

·       U. Minnesota, Internal Medicine

·       U. North Carolina, Internal Medicine 

·       Northwestern, Internal Medicine

·       Ohio State, Internal Medicine

·       Penn State, Internal Medicine 

·       Stanford, Anesthesiology 

·       Vanderbilt, Internal Medicine ​

Research Resources Showcase​​ 
Kokopelli's Trail  -  3:00 - 4:30 PM

Geared to introduce MD PhD students to exciting research opportunities and useful resources for research. Featuring representatives from specialized research foundations, scientific vendors, and other academic resources. The showcase will include an ice cream social, generously sponsored by the Foundation for Anesthesiology Education and Research (FAER).  To participate in the ice cream social, please visit the FAER booth during our showcase. 



ice cream social .png

MD PhD Career Panel ​​: Paths of an MD PhD
Sunday, June 12th, Bighorn Room  -  12:30 - 1:30 PM​

As a physician-scientist, you will have many choices to shape your career to the way you want it. Learn about all of the various paths that lay ahead during this panel discussion with a facilitated question and answer session. 

Stay tuned for the diverse roster of distinguished MD PhD panelists.

Here is the roster of MD PhD panellists from 2019's MD PhD National Student Conference:

Maria Amaya, MD PhD ​

     Second year University of Colorado Hematology/Oncology Fellow

Daniel Sherbenou, MD PhD​ 

     Assistant Professor at University of Colorado School of Medicine, Division of Hematology 

Benjamin Young, MD PhD​ 

     Senior Global Medical Director at ViiV Healthcare

Breakout Sessions
Sunday, June 12th, Various Locations  -  2:30 - 4:30 PM​​

Stay tuned for exciting and useful breakout sessions, such as Health & Wellness, Research Ethics, and Interfacing with Industry.

Here is the list of breakout sessions from 2019's conference:

Research Ethics - led by Mary Allen, Ph.D.

A thought-provoking discussion on issues regarding data falsification, rigor in research, and challenges as a graduate student.

​Women and Minorities in Science: Changing the Paradigm - led by Judith Kaur, M.D.

Engage in an important conversation about equity and diversity, and learn how you can make the difference in tomorrow's world.

Scientific Communication - led by Jay Vyas, M.D. Ph.D.​

Scientific communication plays a crucial role in diseminating research discoveries to broader, non-academic audiences and society at large.  Effective communication fosters support for science, promotes public understanding of its relevence to society, and encorages more informed decision making at all levels.  Learn from Harvard's IM PSTP Director Jay Vyas, and build your presentation and communication skills to better advocate for your science

Should I Learn How to Code? Skills of a 21st Century Investigator - led by Larry Hunter, Ph.D.

Did you ever take that Python class in college? Do you wonder if you can implement computer coding in your project? Come listen to the founder of Bioinformatics as he addresses these questions.​

Conference Activites​

Sunday, June 12th​, Various Locations  -  6:00 AM - 12:00 PM​​

On Sunday, you will have the option of experiencing some of the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains by participating in one of the following activities, led by incredible members of CU MSTP. (For all hikes, please bring the following: a pair of supportive shoes or boots, sunscreen, water, snack food, loose-fitting clothes, a warm layer, and a rain/wind-resistant layer.)​

Stay tuned for outdoors activities planned for Sunday morning!

Here are the activities from 2019's conference:

Advanced Hike: Atlantic Peak - 4.5 mile round trip. The summit of Atlantic Peak features outstanding views of the Ten Mile Range. With the summit reigning at 13,841 ft, Atlantic Peak is in the Top 100 peaks in Colorado by elevation. The trailhead starts at the same point as Mayflower Gulch (the intermediate hike) and features 2,500 feet gain in elevation. From Mayflower Gulch, you will ascend along the west ridge line of the mountain and approach the summit from the Northwest side. This trail is rated as Class 2 and features some steep sections but minimal exposure. Experienced hiking and proper equipment (hiking boots, rain gear, and plenty of water) are required for this hike.

Intermediate Hike: Mayflower Gulch - 3.5 mile round trip. Mayflower Gulch is a high elevation valley above 12,0000 ft. This hike begins on an old mining trail through the forest and leads up to the ruins of the Boston Mines - you'll witness old wooden mills and perhaps evidence of tools the miners used over 100 years ago! Once arriving at the Gulch, you will have the chance to explore all around the gulch and take in the views. This hike does feature significant elevation gain and uphill climbs at parts. This hike is recommended for folks with intermediate hiking experience.

Beginner Hike: Officers Gulch - 1.7 mile round trip. This beautiful hike is located near Frisco, Colorado and is great for all skill levels. The hike ends at a peaceful, high alpine lake that features trout and other wildlife. The Blue River feeds into the lake on the north end. If you are looking for a light hike to explore around the lake, watch people fishing, and relax on a Colorado summer day, this hike is for you!

Alpine Fishing trip: Black Lakes Vail. Spend the day fishing the beautiful and accessible Black Lakes area for trout with our two student guides. Rod and reel (fly and spinning/conventional) provided, although spots are limited to 12. A one-day Colorado fishing license for Sunday July 14th is required. These can be purchased online at Fishing.aspx for both non-resident and resident licenses. Non-resident costs are $16.75. We will cover transportation to and from the fishing area. E-mail prior to buying a license to confirm your spot.

Copper Resort Activities: Copper resort offers a host of exciting activities for you to enjoy!  Day passes are avaliable for an additional fee, at a group rate for $65.  Day pass includes (3) Bungee, (1) Go Kart ride, (1) Zip Line, (2) WreckTangle, (1) Rocky Mountain Coaster ride, and unlimited access to Mini Golf, Boating Activities, and Climbing Wall.  Activities a-la-carte-$13 each ($2 off full price)​. 


About Copper​

Please click here for Copper Check-In information. 

Where should I stay?
Please read the following information from the resort about booking a room for the conference:

To ensure that rooming requirements can be accommodated properly, we ask that individual reservations be made prior to Friday, June 19, 2020. Rooms will be booked based on space and availability after this time. The contracted rates will be honored up to 3 days before and 3 days after the meeting dates, based on availability.  Please call 866-837-2996 to make lodging reservations. Use discount code 4096 for reduced room rates. For further information visit their website at If you would like to share a room with attendees from other MD/PhD programs, please see and like our conference Facebook page.


How long should I plan on staying for the conference?

Conference check-in opens at 2pm, room check-in begins at 4pm and dinner begins at 5 pm on Friday, July 10th. The conference concludes late Sunday evening and we recommend you plan to stay in Copper through Monday morning, July 13th.


How far is Copper?

100 miles, or about 2 hours in normal traffic (which can be unpredictable). You should plan to fly in around noon on Friday, July 10th to allow yourself plenty of time to arrive in Copper and get checked in by 5pm. 

How do I get to Copper?

Physical Address: 0509 Copper Road, Copper Mountain, CO 80443. Lodging Check-In is on the second level above the Athletic Club. 

There are several ways to get to Copper Mountain. Please visit this page for more information:


Lodge Contact Information: 

For Guest Services & General Information about Copper Mountain please call 866-841-2481 or 970-968-2318. 

Resort Transport Information: 

Please take advantage of our complimentary shuttle transportation system throughout the resort. Pick-up times vary. Transportation on-call is available by calling 970-368-2002 between 8:30 AM-11:00 PM. Times and availability can vary depending on time of year.​

What should I bring with me?

- Sunscreen, lip balm, and a water bottle: The elevation at Copper is ~9,700 ft. It is easy to get dehydrated, so drink plenty of water. This NEJM article has more information.

- Jacket: Average July high and low are 65°F and 48°F. On Sunday morning there will be optional conference activities, some of which are outdoors. It might rain. 

- Scientific curiosity: It is a science conference, after all.​


​​Thank you to all of our amazing Sponsors!



We look forward to seeing you in July!!!