Skip Navigation

MD with Scholarly Concentrations

Track Co-Leaders:
Stephen Post, PhD
Maria Basile, MD, MBA


Educating medical students to be physicians involves many dimensions. While a firm grasp of scientific knowledge and technical skill is essential, patient care calls co-equally for a developed humanity. In an educational culture where science and technology necessarily dominate the curriculum, they need not dominate the academic value system. Cultivating humanistic virtues is at the core of all good medical care and the full well-being of those within it. We seek to educate great physician humanists as well as physician scientists. Our view is focused on Professional Identity Formation (PIF). We nurture the strengths and virtues that help students navigate the human challenges of medical training within an intentional reflective process, leading to deeper appreciation of the illness experience and compassionate patient care. We seek a formative process towards compassionate flourishing that unfolds through dialogue and reflection on the human aspects of patient care and the student experience.

Scholarly Concentrations in the Medical Humanities and Ethics Track

The Medical Humanities and Ethics track of the MD with Scholarly Concentration Program is designed to foster rigorous scholarship and significant creativity in the humanities – including but not limited to the virtues and professional identity formation (PIF), the art and science of compassionate care, the care of the self (including clinician resilience), clinical ethics and consultation, philosophy of medicine, just access to healthcare, law and medicine, medical anthropology, literature and narrative medicine, art and observation, medical ethics and world religions, death and dying (including assisted suicide), history of medicine, public policy, and various medical ethical quandaries across the life span. All projects should have the potential for a publishable contribution to knowledge using the research methods of the relevant discipline or field, beginning with a scoping style literature review working with a Stony Brook reference librarian.


Projects in this track draw on the methods of all the disciplines mentioned above. Some projects combine qualitative research with original work in the humanities.

Sample Projects

  • Epilepsy, Neuroscience and Religious Experience: An Exploration of Neurology and the Humanities
  • Opioid Addiction and Pregnancy: An Ethnographic Approach
  • Unveiling the Motives and Writings of Dr. Paul Farmer
  • A History and Model: The Global Effort to Eradicate Smallpox
  • An Empirical Study of Magic Therapy to Relieve Pediatric Patient Anxiety and Improve Hospitalization Experience
  • Investigating Factors that Influence Physician Empathy and Examining Its Role in Patient Outcomes for Diabetic Patients in Denmark
  • Ethics in the “Gray Zone” – Decisions Around Newborns Born at 22 to 23 Weeks
  • Humility as a Physician Virtue: A Philosophical, Historical, and Clinical Study
  • The Used of Narrative Medicine in Clinician Well-Being and Resilience
  • Great Doctor Poets
  • The Wounded Healer: From Plato to Jung
  • Spirituality and Recovery in the 12-Step Model: A Conceptual and Qualitative Study
  • Law and the Forced C-Section
  • Dying in Oregon: Physician Assisted Suicide
  • Music & Memory: A Study of the Impact of Personalized Music on Retention of Self-Identity and Swallowing in Patients with Dementia
  • The Hippocratic Oath: Its Origins, Cultural Context, and Moral Logic
  • Spirituality, the 12 Steps, and Recovery


Students should complete form G1 (general application). Applications are due on March 31st of the application year. See the general program information page for details of notifications, funding, evaluation, etc.

Application Timeline

Students in this track should visit with the track directors several months ahead of the application deadline (ideally by early November) to discuss the scope note of their project in general terms, and begin to consider mentors. Email and to set up an appointment.  

Academic Requirements

First Year

Applicants attend the Responsible Conduct in Research Seminar convened for all MD with Scholarly Concentration students in the early summer after the first year. During the summer after year one, students devote two months (July and August) to their projects in consultation with their mentor. Over this period, they will gain comprehensive background knowledge in their topic area, produce a scoping literature review or annotated bibliography, and further clarify their research goals and methods.

Students complete a written deliverable and present their summer achievements to their peers in the program, typically in late August, including a trajectory for future work.

Students aim for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, working on their own or co-authoring with a mentor or team in the case of certain projects.

Year Four

In the fourth year, students take a minimum of two one-month research electives dedicated directly to their projects (research and writing time) and produce significant deliverables for public presentation at the end of the year on Research Day.

Six Months Total Commitment

Students are required to accumulate six months of activity to complete their projects. A student might, in addition to the two months in the summer after year one, and in addition to the minimum of two-one-month electives in year four, use their year three clinical experiences as material for their projects, or pursue clinical rotations or elective courses in year four that contribute to their project indirectly in the general course of their medical education. This additional two months is highly flexible, as determined individually in consultation with the student’s mentor. Students will maintain some contact with their mentors during the second and third years.  

Subcommittee Members

Dr. Stephen G. Post, PhD (, Track Co-Leader
Dr. Maria Basile, MD (, Track Co-Leader  
Dr. John Coulehan, MD (
Dr. Richard A. Bronson, MD (
Dr. Phyllis Migdal, MD, MA  (
Dr. Jeffrey Trilling, MD (  

Faculty Mentors

Primary mentors are often faculty affiliated with the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics ( However, with discussion and approval from the track directors, a student may select a primary mentor from across the medical school, from the College of Arts and Sciences, and in some cases from other institutions as needed to provide expertise. Only one primary mentor is needed, although every student will also have a co-mentor who is from the Center to facilitate and follow student progress, and to convene discussion groups across the track. A primary mentor can be an MD or a PhD.   Faculty from Center are listed at  

Possible Primary Mentors (Students Can Propose Other Mentors According to Expertise and Discuss with Drs. Post & Basile)

Stephen G. Post, PhD
Center Director
History of Bioethics; Geriatrics; Dementia; Healthcare; Compassion and Altruism

Maria A. Basile, MD
Center Associate Director
Clinical Assistant Professor  
Human Values and Medicine; Literature and Medicine; Medical Professionalism; Medical Ethics; Leadership Development

Michelle S. Ballan, PhD
Professor and Associate Dean for Research, School of Social Welfare
Professor, Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine
Autism and Disability Studies
Social Work & Clinical Ethics

Richard A. Bronson, MD
Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pathology
Reproductive Medicine; Poetry; Narrative in Medicine; Medical Education

Gregg Cantor, DO, MA
Ethics and Cardiology

John L. Coulehan, MD, MPH
Director Emeritus
Literature and Medicine, Empathy, Narrative, Clinical Ethics

Lisa L. Diedrich, PhD
Associate Professor
Women's Studies

Liam Butchart, MD, MA
Ethics and Psychiatry
Literature and Medicine
Narrative Medicine

Brooke Ellison, PhD, MPP
Associate Professor
Hope and Medical Ethics, Stem Cell Research, Sociology and Healthcare

Craig Malbon, PhD, MDiv, FAAAS, FRSM
Leading Professor, School of Medicine
Department of Pharmacology; Department of Family, Population & Preventive Medicine.
Medical Ethics, Social Justice, End-of-Life Ethical Issues

Phyllis Migdal, MD, MA
Clinical Assistant Professor
Institutional Ethics Committee
Medical Ethics, Health Disparity, Implicit Bias

Brian Papszycki, BS, MA
Assistant Director of Hospital Services, LiveOnNY
Transplant Ethics

Jedan Phillips, MD
Associate Dean for Minority Affairs
Justice, Minority Access to Care, and the Medically Underserved
Family and Preventive Medicine
Medical Professionalism
Medical Director of Stony Brook Home (Health Outreach and Medical Education Program)

Lisa Strano-Paul, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
Assistant Dean for Clinical Education
Professional Identity Formation, Geriatrics, End-of-Life Care

Caitlyn Tabor, JD
Clinical Instructor, Law and Medicine

Dr. Nancy Tomes, PhD
Professor of History
History of Medicine

Jeffrey Trilling, MD
Associate Professor
Medical Humanities and Ethics
Physician-Patient Relationship
Primary Care and Family Medicine

Michael Vetrano, PhD
Course Director, Medicine in Contemporary Society
Clinical Ethics and Decision Making, Doctor-Patient Communication, Spirituality and Health Care, Religion and Bioethics

Clare Whitney, PhD, MBE, RN
Assistant Professor
Department of Doctoral Studies, School of Nursing
Methods in Clinical Ethics

Kevin Zacharoff, MD, FACIP, FACPE, FAAP
Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics
Faculty and Clinical Instructor, Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine
Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University


For more information about the Scholarly Concentrations Program, click here.