Largest number of candidates begin RCSI’s 2021 StAR MD programme

  • General news

Seventeen registrars and specialist registrars have begun their two-year Strategic Academic Recruitment (StAR) Doctor of Medicine (MD) Degree at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, making this the largest intake to date.

RCSI established the StAR MD programme in 2016 to strengthen translational research and build on skilled clinical expertise to improve modern healthcare issues. The programme is an opportunity for surgical and medical registrars who are on a career trajectory towards consultant level.

Each StAR MD Scholar is mentored and supervised by two leading Principal Investigators and, on completion of their thesis, will receive the Doctor of Medicine qualification, awarded at the highest level on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications.

"Meaningful engagement, collaboration and partnerships are essential components to improving global health outcomes, and the StAR MD provides a fantastic opportunity for academic, hospital and industrial collaborations," said Professor Arnie Hill, Head of RCSI School of Medicine and Professor of Surgery.

"We started the programme with two candidates in 2016. Seeing the programme grow to a total of 47 scholars in 2021 is a positive outcome, not just for the programme, but also for the collaborating hospitals and patients."

The new candidates will investigate some of the most pressing health issues affecting society and are supervised by leading Principal Investigators in these areas. They will also be supported by RCSI's School of Postgraduate Studies, enabling the StAR MD programme to advance translation research to improve patient outcomes.

The programme is run in collaboration with Beacon Hospital, Blackrock Clinic, Bon Secours Hospital Dublin and Hermitage Medical Clinic. The new call of the programme in 2022 will also collaborate with Highfield Healthcare, Mater Private Network and Sports Surgical Centre Dublin, for the first time.

In addition to providing the collaborating hospitals with increased capacity for patient care, the programme also offers an opportunity for companies to support translational research from within a hospital setting, relevant to the company's field of interest. The 2021 StAR MD Programme received industry support from GSK Ireland and Pfizer Ireland.

"The StAR MD programme offers registrars an opportunity to advance their careers while ultimately benefiting the health of patients," said Professor Emer Reeves, Deputy Head of RCSI's School of Postgraduate Studies and Director of the StAR MD programme.

"I would highly recommend that all eligible candidates apply for the programme. The continued growth of the programme is a testament to its success, and we hope to build on this by extending the programme nationally in the near future."

Applications for July 2022 will open on 1 October. Applications should include a CV, research proposal and application form, and be emailed to by Thursday, 6 January 2022. The application form and further information are available here.

Each candidate receives a competitive bursary and resources for research consumables and expenses. They maintain clinical practice through our collaborations with private hospitals in Ireland, who hire StAR MD candidates as employees during the two-year research project. The private hospital also sponsors MD postgraduate fees. Candidates are supported through our dedicated School of Postgraduate Studies and will have a strong research impact through scientific publications and presentations at national and international conferences and workshops.