Welcome to the Gateways to Medicine and Research MS Program!

The NEW Gateways to Medicine and Research Master’s Program is a recently approved umbrella program that will host its inaugural class in the fall of 2023. The Gateways MS Program is intended to provide training for students interested in boosting their application to medical school or preparing for careers in biomedical research. The program consists of two tracks: a 1-year Medical Track (non-thesis, Plan B MS) and a 2-year Research Track with thesis (Plan A MS).

Goal: The Gateways MS Program will fill the need for transitional programs for careers in medicine or biomedical research in the MN Northland. The program will focus on increasing access and diversity in the healthcare and research workforce by recruiting among underserved populations from MN.


The Duluth Regional Medical School (DMED) trains physicians who serve rural MN and Native communities. The DMED is ranked #2 in the US in the graduation of Native physicians, #5 in the graduation of physicians in primary care, and #4 in Family Medicine. Existing DMED training programs support future underserved. Yet, a significant gap exists between completion of BA/BS and entry into MD / PhD programs. The Gateways MS Programs will help fill that gap and focus on increasing diversity into terminal degrees from the Northland. Training a diverse healthcare and research workforce will alleviate a historic lack of access for underserved populations. 

Why choose the Gateways MS Program?

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Why choose the Gateways MS Program?

Who should apply to the Biomedical Sciences MS?

The BMS MS Gateways to Medicine and Research Program is designed for students interested in professional health careers or biomedical research who desire additional training, mentoring, and advising to strengthen their academic and professional credentials for admission to health professional or graduate schools, or for entry in the biomedical workforce. This umbrella program has two tracks based on desired outcomes. The Medical Track, 1-year (3 semesters) Plan B MS, provides relevant, specialized content and experiences for students interested in health professions. The Research Track is a 2-year Plan A MS with a research thesis that provides targeted training and research experiences on biomedical sciences. The mission of the Gateways MS Program is to recruit and train diverse students that upon graduation will enrich the region with their newly gained expertise. We anticipate these students will continue their training in regional MD or PhD programs or transition to related careers, including lab specialists, teaching, biotech industry, or other.

Is the Program open to anyone?

Everyone is welcome to apply! The Gateways MS Program will be a natural fit for regional students with a bachelors degree who wish to further their education in a small city close to nature and home. We will recruit students from diverse STEM disciplines, including pre-med, cell biology, human biology, biochemistry, or equivalent majors. Students with other backgrounds are also encouraged to apply with a description of how their unique experiences will enrich the program and how the program will help them reach their career goals. 

What are the advantages of the Gateways to Medicine and Research MS Program?

Advantages of the Gateways to Medicine and Research MS Program:

  1. For students interested in health careers, the Gateways Medical Track offers tailored content and clinical experiences along with dedicated MCAT preparation in 1 year (3 semesters) while obtaining an MS. This is equivalent to a Postbaccalaureate (PostBac) for professional school with the advantage of getting a Master's degree.
  2. For students interested in biomedical research, the Gateways Research Track offers personalized content and experiences over a two-year period guided by experienced mentors.
  3. The program is partially funded by a grant from the Genentech Innovation Fund that will provide scholarships supporting tuition costs for Indigenous students.

What is the Curriculum of the Gateways to Medicine and Research MS Program?


Graduation requirement will be completion of 30 credits in one or two years. Credits are earned in discussion-based classes, problem-based learning (PBL), bench research (Research Track only) along with relevant professional experiences and community projects. The active learning, innovative curricula are tailored for each track around the science of human physiology and disease. This content will appeal to students interested in: (1) health professions (new applicants and near misses), (2) exploration of academic careers in biomedical research, (3) biotechnology / pharmaceutical industry, (4) teaching health sciences, or (5) broader science applications in business, regulatory affairs, entrepreneurship, writing, or policy. The curriculum will be delivered by experienced faculty who teach the foundational content of the Duluth Regional Medical School Campus under a distinctive “high contact - high content” model. 

  • Students on the Medical Track will follow a structured curriculum with classroom content, clinical and community experiences, and dedicated MCAT study time. Medical Scholars will have opportunities to shadow at St. Luke’s Hospital and participate in community projects for credit as part of their Capstone Project. The curriculum will have threaded social determinants of health content and classes on Native American health disparities. Students will demonstrate preparedness for medical school by strong GPA and MCAT scores. 
  • Students on the Research Track will have few core courses and multiple electives in their area of interest and will gain bench skills with experienced mentors in exciting research areas, including neuroscience, genetics / genomics, cancer biology, immunology, physiology, infectious disease, and parasitology. Students will complete and defend a research thesis that will demonstrate competence and independence, and prepare them for entry to PhD programs or careers in research.


DEI Statement

Diversity goals: The Gateways will advance the diversity goals of DMED, UMN Med School and UMN system. We will build a culturally inclusive environment that supports campus climate goals. Students and faculty will have access to the resources available through the Graduate School Diversity Office.


The preferred undergraduate GPA is 3.00. A bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university in the biological or physical sciences or a related field.

Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:

  • Medical track:  MCAT preliminary score above 485
  • Research Track: GRE: 60th percentile or above (not required)
    International applicants must submit language score(s)


Pedro Fernandez-Funez

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Pedro Fernandez-Funez
Medical School, SMED333

Anna-Marie Zaidi

Graduate Program Coordinator
Anna-Marie Zaidi
Medical School, SMED315