Graduate Diploma in Health Research (GDipHR)


The purpose of the GDipHR is to provide selected 1st-year medical students an opportunity to participate in the continuum of research – from idea creation to data collection to scientific publication and/or presentation at a scholarly meeting – via a consecutive 20-month longitudinal research program.   Students will also be exposed to coursework related to a broad range of research concepts, topics, methodologies, and applications to health care.  Newly established in 2019, GDipHR superseded the CREMS Research Scholar Program, which was introduced with much success in 2010. 

GDipHR will offer a limited number of competitively selected first year MD students an opportunity to conduct a research project mentored by a U of T Graduate Faculty researcher, complete a didactic course MSC1992Y - Research Skills for the Physician Scientist and take a relevant elective graduate half course.  Successful completion of the entire program over 20 consecutive months (from January 1 of MD year 1 to the end of the summer following MD year 2) will earn the student an additional U of T Diploma at the time of graduation with the MD degree. 

The Diploma specifically targets those future physicians who will need the additional skills necessary to contribute to health-related studies in their future careers and the select group who will become leaders in health research.  For those who have not had any previous research experience, completion of the GDipHR will offer graduate-level training and an additional U of T credential without prolonging the time required to receive the MD degree.  It will provide exposure to cutting-edge health-related and translational research by world–class faculty from the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and School of Public Health from a broad range of disciplines and research methodologies.  It will also provide advantages in competition for future advanced training positions.  For those who have already completed graduate research training before starting the MD program, it will permit them to remain current in research and explore new areas and approaches while completing their MD in the standard four academic years. 


The GDipHR Program runs from the beginning of January of a given year to the end of August of the following year. That is, GDipHR covers from the beginning of the 2nd term of Year 1 of the MD Program until the end of August between MD Years 2 & 3 and includes a total of 4 weeks’ vacation. The program is full-time during the summers between MD Years 1 and 2 and MD Years 2 and 3. Students are, therefore, not eligible for another full-time research position during either of those summers.
Supervisor Eligibility
GDipHR includes a mentored research project, supervised by at least one full-time faculty member. Primary Supervisors must have an unrestricted appointment to the School of Graduate Students (SGS) in the University of Toronto (conferring the authority to independently supervise graduate students), preferably a demonstration of previous student mentorship and available funds sufficient to cover $7,500 which is half of the student’s total stipend ($15,000) and the costs of the student’s research.   More information for supervisors and the project information form can be found below in the Faculty Supervisor Information section.  
A GDipHR student receives a stipend of $15,000 for the entire 20-month period; the GDipHR Program will contribute $7,500 and the research supervisor will be responsible for $7,500. The supervisor is also responsible for any costs of the student’s research, extraneous study, and travel expenses (which include, but are not limited to, conferences, meetings, poster printing, etc.). Payments from the Program Office are processed through the internal ROSI/ACORN system via direct deposit to the student’s bank account that is listed on file. Payments from the Supervisor must be set up by the supervisor’s institution either through a finance officer or HR Department. NOTE: The student payment is to be considered an award. The student is expected to clear $7,500. Please contact your payroll or Human Resources department to find out how to process your payments. Institutional processes vary greatly – it is not the responsibility of the GDipHR office to know how stipend payments are processed from institution to institution.
GDipHR students will be required to pay tuition as part-time graduate students. You can find the current year's fees at Student Accounts In addition, the two summer sessions (after the MD program Years 1 & 2, when incidental fees are not being paid to the MD Program) will each involve sessional incidental fees. 

Project Catalogue

The GDipHR program is now closed to applicants. Please check back in November of 2024 for next year's deadlines and project listings. 




Applicants will apply through a competitive process in the Fall of Year 1 of the MD Program and, if accepted, will start in January of that year. The expected intake is 15 students this year. Acceptance of eligible medical students into the Diploma program will occur as follows.

At the beginning of the fall term, all first-year MD students will be notified about the Diploma program and directed to resources including the website.

Any interested students may apply to the program by submitting the following documents by email to the GDipHR office at no later than NOVEMBER 10, 2023.

NOTE: The adjudicators will be evaluating the documents listed here, not the descriptions of projects posted on the website. 

1. Curriculum vitae

2. Personal statement explaining their interest in the GDipHR Program (maximum 500 words)

3. Description of a research project they are interested in (maximum 500 words)

  • Students are strongly encouraged to (virtually) meet with prospective supervisors to ensure they have a clear understanding of what will be involved in undertaking the proposed research project
  • A supervisor who receives interest from multiple students is expected to interview and indicate to each student if they are preferred for the project, pending acceptance of the student into the GDipHR program. 
  • A student who is accepted to the GDipHR program, but is not selected by the supervisor of their first choice project, will have the opportunity to ask for supervision during a different project from a list of GDipHR projects that remain available.

4. Written confirmation of Good Standing in the MD Program (Letter from the program, signed by Registrar/Vice-Dean)

5. Undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts for any previous programs of study. At the initial application phase, an email copy will suffice. Once you are accepted into the program, you will be required to supply an original transcript. This is to be sent either electronically by the University OR a mailed original.

Applications will be submitted to the Adjudication Committee for competitive selection. Adjudicators will assess each application for overall acceptability as well as provide a cumulative numerical score for the rank order.

The students with the top applications will be informed of their selection in early December.

Once the student/supervisor pairs are decided, they are to notify the GDipHR office (, who will, in turn, send a Mentor Agreement form, which confirms the commitment of the faculty member to supervise the student's specific research project, no later than December 15, 2023



The Diploma consists of 2.5 full-course equivalents (FCE):

  • MSC1991Y Supervised Research Project – mentored, supervised, and experiential learning. The supervisor provides guidance as needed during the conduct of the project, during reflection upon what has been learned thereby, and during the dissemination of novel results to target audiences. This classical form of research learning is considered essential to graduate-level research training.
  • MSC1992Y Research Skills for the Physician Scientist – consists of four Parts of equal (0.25 FCE) weight, with a blend of lectures, seminar discussions, project assignments and online material
  • Elective Graduate Level Half Course – chosen by students from a list of courses offered by the Institute of Medical Sciences, the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, and the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation.

About Research Skills for the Physician Scientist (MSC1992Y)

This course is presented in 4 parts of equal weight (0.25 FCE), spread out over five consecutive terms. Students are introduced to advanced concepts pertinent to health-related research. They provide a basis for understanding approaches and methodologies applicable to the broad range of research fields included in the four pillars of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.


  • Lectures by research faculty about specific approaches to bridging gaps in knowledge in their field; topical areas including ethics, problem-solving, and decision-making.
  • Presentations by students and group discussions of the plans for their projects in the companion Supervised Research Project (MSC1991Y) practicum courses.

Self-guided online teaching element on writing research grants.


PART 2: Translational Research Topics for Health Professionals

  • Seminars by faculty experts on their areas of translational research
  • Approach to a research question and problem-solving
  • Journal club critiques of assigned research papers by students


PART 3: Special Topics in Health Research

  • Faculty presentations illustrating the application of health research principles and techniques such as quantitative and qualitative techniques; statistical analysis / clinical epidemiology / clinical research; basic biomedical/molecular / developmental / stem cell biology; public health/education / health services/health economics research; knowledge translation/quality improvement
  • Journal club critiques of assigned research papers by students


PART 4: Dissemination of Results

  • Communicating the results of research to a variety of audiences
  • Seminars on career development issues, including communicating with potential employers, the media (TV, radio, newspapers), trainees at all levels, the general public, publishers, funding agencies, peer reviewers, applicants for funding/training positions, university and hospital administrators, government, industry
  • Student oral presentations of the results of their research projects
  • Poster presentation at Medical Student Research Day (MSRD)

Program Scheduling - Relationship between MD and Diploma Programs

All Diploma students must also be registered in the undergraduate MD program, which has Fall and Winter terms in each year, but not Summer terms in the first two years. The Diploma program will begin at the start of the second (Winter) term of the MD Program’s first year. The Diploma students will be registered with IMS on a part-time basis program over 5 consecutive terms, proceeding with a registration sequence of winter/summer/fall/winter/summer. Therefore, Diploma students will also be registered concurrently as full-time MD students in the Winter term of the first MD year and during the Fall and Winter terms of the second MD year. In order to limit the additional workload generated by Diploma-related activities during the regular MD program, the aggregate of Diploma activities will occupy at least 40 hours per week during the Summer sessions (i.e., full-time work equivalent), but no more than 10 hours per week during the Fall and Winter sessions. The scheduling of MD for-credit activities early in the MD program provides the opportunity for MD students to pursue cognate academic activities, such as the GDipHR. 

Time Commitments & Requirements for Completion

In order to successfully complete GDipHR, certain requirements must be met in addition to the research project. Failure to complete these requirements may result in the student being terminated from the program.




Orientation Period

MD Year 1

January to May

Students must have registered with SGS in courses:

  •  MSC1991Y – Supervised Research Project
  • MSC1992Y – Research Skills for the Physician-Scientist


Students must attend the weekly 1-hour seminars of the didactic course MSC1992Y

Perform all preparations needed to begin the actual project.

This will include literature, reviews; meeting with supervisor; ensuring administrative tasks are taken care of (e.g. stipend set up, ID badge, hospital/institute orientation) NOTE: All of the on-site prep is the responsibility of the student and the faculty supervisor. 


It is recommended that students not spend more than 8-10 hours per week on GDipHR during this term.


  • Students will submit by late April, a written research plan, which the Primary Supervisor will grade as Credit/No Credit by the middle of May
  • The primary supervisor will recruit at least 2 additional SGS-appointed graduate faculty to form a Supervisor Committee (analogous to an MSc student’s committee) and schedule the first meeting early in the Summer of Year 1

Summer I

MD Years 1 & 2

June – August

Students work full-time on their MSC1991Y research project and attend MSC1992Y seminars.


Students may arrange with their supervisor to have 2 weeks of vacation between the conclusion of this summer experience and the onset of Year 2


Note: If interim evaluations suggest that reasonable progress in research is not being made, the student may be removed after appropriate consultation.



Students may request a meeting with the GDipHR Director (Dr. Catharine Walsh) or the GDipHR Coordinator (Lisa Charrette) to discuss any concerns.

Medical Student Research Day


MD Years 2



Students will participate in the annual MSRD, including submission of an abstract with preliminary research findings in the form of a poster presentation at the event




To be judged for prizes

MD Year 2

September to May


Maximum of 8-10 hours/week of continued research under the same supervision during the normal MD curriculum


Summer 2

Between MD Years 2 & 3

June – end of July

Students work full-time on their research project with the aim to complete all experimental work, data analysis, and writing and submission of results for peer review.


Students will attend MSC1992Y seminars.


Students may negotiate with their supervisor to have 2-4 weeks off between the conclusion of this summer experience and the onset of Year 3

  • By the end of August, the student must submit a final research report in a prescribed format.
  • This report will be graded Credit/No Credit by the Supervisory Committee (not including the primary supervisor)


Medical Student Research Day


MD Year 3


Students will participate in the annual MSRD, including submission of an abstract with preliminary research findings in the form of a poster presentation at the event

To be judged for prizes

NOTE: In order to complete the Graduate Diploma in Health Research, with an official record on their University of Toronto academic transcript, graduating MD students will have successfully completed the following courses:

  • MSC1991Y, Supervised Research Project (Credit evaluation of the Final Report by the Supervisory Committee)
  • MSC1992Y, Research Skills for the Physician-Scientist
  • An approved elective Graduate half-course

Faculty Supervisor Information

Faculty research project submissions for the 2024-2025 GDipHR Program are due October 16, 2023. Information for prospective Faculty Supervisors can be found here: GDipHR - Call for Proposals

GDipHR students complete a research project, supervised by at least one full-time faculty member. Primary Supervisors must have an unrestricted appointment to the School of Graduate Students (SGS) at the University of Toronto (conferring the authority to independently supervise graduate students), preferably a demonstration of previous student mentorship and available funds sufficient to cover $7,500 which is half of the student’s total stipend ($15,000) and the costs of the student’s research.

Components of the Program are outlined on  GDipHR 2023 - Supervisor Commitment that prospective Faculty Research Project Supervisors are asked to sign and submit, accepting the GDipHR Program requirements in the event that a Faculty supervises a selected student.

Please submit proposed research projects on the GDipHR - Supervisor and Project Submission Form (by email only) to by October 16, 2023, along with a signed GDipHR Supervisor Commitment Form.    

Key Reminders:

To submit a research project, please complete:

Deadline: October 16, 2023

What Happens After Project Submission?

  • Submitted projects will be reviewed to ensure they meet eligibility criteria and will be posted on the GDipHR Program Website. 
  • Students are asked to view the catalogue and identify project(s) of interest. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the prospective supervisor, to ensure they have a clear understanding of what will be involved in undertaking the proposed research project. 
  • Faculty Research Project Supervisors are asked to meet with the students and, if more than one student reaches out, one student should be selected for a project. We only allow ONE student per project and Faculty are only allowed to supervise ONE GDipHR student per cohort. 
  • Students are required to submit their applications by November 10, 2023.  
  • Students applying to GDipHR will be notified of their selection by December 4, 2023
  • Once a student has been accepted to the program and the student and supervisor have confirmed their agreement to work together, the student/supervisor pair will notify the GDipHR office by email at no later than December 15, 2023, and confirm the commitment of the Faculty member to supervise the student’s specific research project in GDipHR. 


The Physician Scientists Training program recognizes the continued support of the McLaughlin Centre in the training of future Physician Scientists. The following MD/PhD students and CREMS Scholars have benefited from this generous support.

The GDipHR program recognizes the continued support of the McLaughlin Centre in the training of future Physician Scientists. The following GDipHR Scholars have benefited from this generous support.

2023-24 GDipHR McLaughlin Recipients

  • Mohamed Elghobashy & Dr. Michael Fehlings - Novel classification models to enhance predictions of neurological outcomes in spinal cord injury
  • Rhea Varghese & Dr. Samira Mubarek - Identifying critical control points for zoonotic virus spillover prevention at viral interfaces: mapping human-animal value chains using a One Health approach
  • Jessica Hira & Dr. Sanjeev Kumar - Studying cortical excitation/ inhibition balance and its association with other biomarkers of illness and clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Gabrielle Trepanier & Dr. John Kingdom - Serial maternal circulating placental growth factor (PlGF) levels to predict serious adverse maternalperinatal outcomes in pregnant individuals at high-risk of placenta-mediated complications of pregnancy
  • Maggie Zhu & Dr. Alanna Weisman - Achieving Equitable Uptake and Use of Diabetes Technologies Among Adults with Type 1 Diabetes (EQUAT1D)

2022-23 GDipHR McLaughlin Recipients 

  • Fatimah Bah & Dr. Tereza Martinu - Novel biomarkers for rapid identification of aspiration in donor lung grafts for improved triaging prior to lung transplantation
  • Ryan Huang & Dr. Shaun Morris - Epidemiology of COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable diseases in children in Canada
  • Ke Xin Lin & Dr. Antoine Eskander - Developing a Machine Learning Algorithm to Stage Head and Neck Cancers 
  • Brynne Stewart & Dr. Joanne Kotsopoulos - Risk Factor Analysis of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
  • Raymond Wong & Michael Fehlings - Promoting stem cell-mediated functional recovery and functional graft integration following cervical spinal cord injury through intense rehabilitation