A long-term goal of the Department of Dermatology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is to produce scientific leaders in skin biology and skin disease. To sustain this goal, we propose a new Dermatology Research Training Program that will continue to recruit MD/PhD or MD candidates from dermatology residency applicants as early as the residency match. The experiences of at least 3 alumni who have received federal grants and our general success in having all trainees who start the program finish it, with subsequent positioning into academic and industry appointments, amplify the merits of current policy that includes: (1) selecting candidates with proven scientific achievements and strong potential for independent investigation; (2) a physician-scientist track which trains for 2 yrs in clinical dermatology and then 2 yrs in laboratory-based research; and (3) preceptorship under the tutelage of outstanding faculty from our Graduate School of Biosciences. The program will be administered by a director and supported by a co-director, coordinator, and advisors. We gathered 28 potential preceptors, each with NIH R01 grants and a record of effective mentoring and meaningful interactions with dermatology personnel. They include a Nobel laureate and 9 members of the National Academy of Sciences. Our preceptors' publications, in the aggregate, rate a high mean H-index of 42. Core curricula, advisory panels, and departmental and institutional support for trainees are outlined. Extramural review of the program by 2 experienced investigators/administrators and a successful program alumnus is discussed. For the near future, we have recruited and are committed to train 3 extraordinarily gifted MD/PhDs, 2 of whom hail from under-represented groups. If funded, the T32 mechanism will provide financial certainty to their training and sustain our long-term goal.
Because improved patient care depends on scientific discovery applied to human conditions, we should invest in recruiting promising individuals into research programs that train them effectively. At The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, we have created a successful program for mentoring dermatology residents towards scientific research. Our application for T32 funding will sustain our goal of producing scientific investigators and leaders in dermatology.
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