The MSTP at UT Southwestern Medical School, continually funded by NIH for 27 years, trains MD/PhD physician scientists to bring the principles of experimental science to bear on fundamental problems in human biology and to translate that understanding into new treatments for disease. Like its parent institution, the UT Southwestern MSTP has moved to the front rank of research-based medical programs. Since switching to the AMCAS application in 2004, the MSTP draws from a national base of highly qualified applicants. The MSTP was last reviewed in 2006. There were no substantial questions regarding the quality of the science or the education, but the NIH Committee on Minority Recruitment raised serious concerns about our minority recruitment and retention plan. We have taken these criticisms to heart. Through a variety of initiatives, we have made remarkable strides in increasing diversity, going from 3% underrepresented minority (URM) students in 2006 to a projected 12% URM students at the start of the 2009-2010 academic year, with 22% URM students in the current entering class. MSTP students typically complete 3 research rotations and 2 years of medical school before embarking on dissertation research, although students have the options of fewer rotations and entry Into graduate school after one year of medical school. During the research years, students take advanced graduate courses, pass a qualifying exam, and work in the lab of one of the 270 Graduate School faculty members. MSTP mentors are well-funded. Students select mentors for rotations and dissertation research across the full spectrum of faculty and are productive during graduate school, averaging 3.6 publications per student. Most graduates do clinical residencies at excellent institutions. The MSTP Associate Dean and co-Directors are active physician-scientists who guide students through the MD/PhD path. A 21 member steering committee makes admissions decisions and helps establish program policy. In its 27 years the program has graduated 147 students whose career outcomes support the NIH mandate for the program: 73% of graduates who have completed all training and are in independent positions are doing medical research in an academic or pharmaceutical/industry/biotechnology.
There is an urgent need to train physician scientists who can discover new causes and treatments of diseases. The proposed grant will continue support for the highly successful Medical Scientist Training Program at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, which trains MD/PhD students who become future physician scientists.
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