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About Research Residency Track (RRT)

Since 1987, the UCSD Department of Psychiatry has supported a designated Research Residency Track (RRT), with the goal of training future leaders in neuropsychiatric research and Academic Psychiatry. The RRT is directed by Neal Swerdlow, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael McCarthy, M.D., Ph.D. serves as the RRT Associate Director. The UCSD Psychiatry RRT is currently funded by an NIMH R25 Award, through June, 2023.


Each year, 1–2 applicants match into separate NRMP slots assigned to this program; M.D. and M.D., Ph.D. candidates are eligible for this program, with the most competitive applicants demonstrating both outstanding clinical skills and a longstanding commitment to research on the biology of mental illness. The absolute expectation is that RRT trainees will develop into highly skilled Psychiatrists, world-class scientists, effective teachers and powerful advocates for patients and families with mental illness. In fact, our Program is dedicated to making sure that this happens!


Even before starting the RRT, trainees are assigned a mentor to help ease their transition into our Program and begin the process of professional development. The mentor is selected to be a senior investigator in the trainee's area of interest. During the PGY1, RRT trainees meet with their mentor and the RRT Director, and develop a personalized training plan designed to match the trainees' research interests with the most productive training laboratories and mentors in our Department. Specific developmental benchmarks are clarified for their longitudinal progress through the RRT. Trainees and their identified mentors then develop and submit a research proposal for a 2-month PGY2 dedicated laboratory experience.


Typical PGY2 projects involve exposure to laboratory and/or clinical experimentation, followed by a year-long independent scholarly literature review. RRT trainees often identify specialized clinical rotations during their PGY2 year that can synergize with their research interests.


After approval of a proposed PGY3 project, RRT trainees spend 40% effort (2 days per week) of their PGY3 year in a mentored research experience. Additional expectations for this year include publication of a scholarly review (from the PGY2 rotation) or empirical experimental findings, and participation in a national or international scientific meeting.


The mentored research experience is expanded to 70% effort in the PGY4 year, during which time RRT Residents also develop applications for Fellowship Training or individual career development awards. Typically, RRT trainees avail themselves of one of the many outstanding fellowship opportunities within the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry, while other trainees progress directly into academic faculty series.


Candidates interested in the UC San Diego Psychiatry Research Residency Track are encouraged to contact Dr. Swerdlow directly, early in their MS-IV year:

Neal Swerdlow, M.D., Ph.D.


Application Information

UCSD Psychiatry/Research Track
Program Code: #1049400C1