The University of Pennsylvania Medical Scientist Training Program was established in 1958 and has received NIGMS T32 funding for 42 years. It is currently the only MSTP that supports both medical and veterinary students and has done so for many years. In keeping with recommendations in the 2014 NIH Physician- Scientist Workforce Report, our primary goal continues to be to identify, train and mentor a diverse group of outstanding men and women who will become the leaders of biomedical human and veterinary research, as well as teachers, clinicians and scholars. To meet this goal, we have established flexible training plans that emphasize the integration of clinical and research training in preparation for careers that will use both. Institutional commitment is reflected in Penn' large annual investment in this program, providing resources that help cover tuition and stipend costs, maintain enrichment activities, and support program administration. Trainee appointments to the T32 are typically made for the first 3 years of the program. MSTP T32 dollars are well leveraged, representing only 17% of the annual cost of the MD/PhD program and 14% of the VMD/PhD program. Admission is open to recent college graduates and to current Penn MD, VMD and PhD students. Selection criteria emphasize academic excellence, research experience, independence, letters of recommendation and a plan for a research career. There are currently 189 MD/PhD and 24 VMD/PhD students. While most do graduate work in the biomedical sciences, 21% are in Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Health Care Economics, History & Sociology of Science, Medical Anthropology or Epidemiology. The proposed training faculty reflects this diversity. It includes 148 junior and senior scholars and physician- scientists at Penn plus 3 NIH intramural investigators who are active members of the Immunology Graduate Group at Penn. Policies are in place to maintain and acquire membership in the training faculty. Attrition is low and the average time to degree has decreased. Outcomes data on the 542 MD/PhD and 75 VMD/PhD graduates shows that approximately 80% of those who have completed postgraduate training are employed by academic centers, research institutes, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries or federal agencies. Many have research funding from the NIH and other sources. Our goals for the next 5 years include: 1) preparing all of our trainees to face the complexities of leading and contributing to basic, translational and clinical research in the 21st century, 2) providing greater exposure to career paths outside academia, 3) maintaining and, when appropriate, shortening the average time to degree, 4) increasing the VMD/PhD program to 30 students and keeping the MD/PhD program on track to include 200 students, and 5) building upon our recent success in attracting and training a diverse group of men and women who will be prepared for the discovery and application of new knowledge.
As the pace at which biomedical research advances increases, there is a greater need than ever for physicians and veterinarians who are trained investigators, working at the intersection between medicine and science to develop new understanding of human and animal biology and new approaches to the treatment and management of disease. The goal of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pennsylvania is to identify, train and mentor a diverse group of outstanding men and women and to help them become teachers, scholars, and leaders of biomedical research (references 1-9).
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