The Scripps Research Institute and its clinical partners are forming the first US medical school that will require applicants to have a master's degree. Scripps, which is based in La Jolla, California, expects to enrol its first 40 students in 2010.

“The master's will be in translational medicine,” says Scripps cardiologist Eric Topol, the school's founding dean. “Our mission is to encourage a new genre of physician–investigator.”

The medical training will take place in existing facilities, but Scripps is seeking philanthropic support for much of the school's $150-million cost, Topol says.

Many US medical schools offer combined MD–PhD programmes for some students, but Scripps is the first to make a master's degree a requirement.