Physician Scientist Pathway (PSTP)

Pediatric Physician Scientist Training Program

The University of Minnesota Pediatric PSTP is designed for residents who already have an advanced research degree (e.g. MD/PhD, MD/MPH) or other significant prior research experience and who are interested in pursuing an investigative career.  The PSTP works closely with Pediatric Fellowship Programs to recruit applicants interested in pursuing both residency and fellowship training at the University of Minnesota, and provides research-focused activities during residency. 

Residents in the PSTP typically pursue the Integrated Research Pathway (IRP) or Accelerated Research Pathway (ARP) offered by the American Board of Pediatrics.  The IRP provides up to 12 months of protected research time during a 3-year residency.  The ARP shortens residency training to 2 years, but extends subspecialty fellowship training from 3 to 4 years.  Applicants interested in the PSTP Pathway should apply to the categorical program through ERAS and should notify the PSTP Director, Bryce Binstadt, by email at or by phone at (612)625-2953 or contact the Senior Pediatric Residency Program Administrator, Amy Gaug, by email at Applicants may rank both the PSTP Program and the Categorical Program in NRMP at the time of rank list submission. 


Zach Shaheen"I completed my MD and PhD at the Medical College of Wisconsin. There, I earned a PhD in Biochemistry & the Translational Sciences where the focus of my work was to study the mechanisms by which our innate immune system responds to viral infection, and how these responses influence the induction of autoimmune diabetes. Our work has led to the identification of CCR5 as an important cell surface receptor required for macrophage production of inflammatory genes (including cytokines, prostaglandins, and nitric oxide; molecules long thought to contribute to beta-cell damage and the pathogenesis of diabetes) in response to viral infection. We also characterized the mechanisms by which pancreatic beta-cells are able to defend against viral infection. My long-term goals are to be a physician scientist whose clinical and scientific work focuses on autoimmune and autoinflammatory disease.  Broadly, I hope to subspecialize as a Pediatric Rheumatologist and to study the mechanisms by which peripheral immune tolerance is generated and how environmental factors (like viral infection) influence the immune system’s ability to either appropriately or aberrantly discriminate self (our tissues) from non-self (foreign molecules and pathogens).

When applying for Pediatric residency programs, I found the University of Minnesota PSTP to be a perfect fit for both my clinical and scientific goals. The UMN provides both strong, general & subspecialty Pediatric training, and has nationally recognized basic science immunology research and Global Health/infectious disease programs. And most importantly, the UMN functions in a collaborative environment that enhances our education as trainees and the quality of health care that the communities we serve deserves."

Here is a link to Dr. Shaheen's bibliography.

-Zach Shaheen, MD, Pediatric Residency PL-1, PSTP track


George Christakopoulos"I graduated from the University of Athens School of Medicine in Greece. After graduation and having always been excited to combine clinical practice with research, I moved to the U.S. where I participated in both clinical and basic science research as a post-doctoral research fellow at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, respectively. During my basic science postdoctoral fellowship, I was primarily involved in two projects. In my first project, I studied the contribution of reactive oxygen species (ROS), enzymatically produced by NADPH-oxidases, in cardiovascular complications in sickle cell anemia (SCA). In my second project, I investigated the role of the VPS4A gene in erythroblast mitosis, cytokinesis, and erythrocyte maturation, validating its pathogenetic role in Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia (CDA) type I. After matching in the PSTP track at the University of Minnesota, I joined Dr. Jakub Tolar’s research team, an internationally recognized expert in the field of stem cell and umbilical cord transplantation. My current research efforts are focusing on exploring the role of two novel genes in Dyskeratosis Congenita, a rare, progressive bone marrow failure syndrome with very high mortality. Following completion of my pediatrics residency, my goal is to subspecialize in hematology-oncology and BMT. The University of Minnesota PSTP track was clearly the ideal stepping stone for my career and setting my life goals."

Here is a link to Dr. Christakopoulos' bibliography.

-Georgios Christakopoulos, MD, Pediatric Residency PL-2, PSTP track


 Shawn Mahmud"I completed my PhD thesis research with Dr. Mike Farrar in the Center for Immunology at the University of Minnesota where I studied the development of a subset of T cells called regulatory T cells, or ‘Tregs’.  Tregs are CD4+ T cells that develop in the thymus and in the peripheral lymphoid organs.  These cells are unique in that they restrain (regulate) immune responses by a variety of mechanisms.  Quantitative and qualitative deficiencies in Treg cells have been associated with human autoimmune disease, and Tregs show promise as potential therapy in autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.  Notably, Dr. Bruce Blazar and colleagues at the U of MN have shown that Treg cell therapy is effective as prophylaxis against acute graft versus host disease in BMT.  My research helped elucidate how stimulation by several members of the TNF receptor superfamily guide developing CD4 single positive thymocytes to divert into the Treg lineage.  I showed that TNF receptor superfamily stimulation engenders heightened sensitivity to interleukin-2 in developing Tregs — IL-2 is a key cytokine required for Treg differentiation.  More recently, I have been exploring a project with Dr. Bryce Binstadt (Pediatric rheumatology) looking at Treg function and exogenous replacement in a mouse model of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis — a devastating disease characterized by marked immune dysregulation."

Here is a link to Dr. Mahmud's bibliography.

-Shawn Mahmud, MD, PhD, Alumni and Pediatric Rheumatology Fellow


 beising"I am pursuing my fellowship in pediatric pulmonology here at the University of Minnesota.  My fellowship research is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of pulmonary fibrosis.  We are currently using single-cell whole transcriptome RNA sequencing approaches to identify fibrinogenic fibroblast sub-populations from patients with pulmonary fibrosis.  This research will hopefully lead to a better understanding and improved outcomes for children suffering from fibrotic lung diseases.  This project spans multiple disciplines and departments and is well suited to the open, collaborative research environment present at the University of Minnesota."

Here is a link to Dr. Beising's bibliography.

-Daniel Beising, MD, PhD, Alumni and Pediatric Pulmonology Fellow