The MD/PhD program at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has been in existence since 1978 and continuously funded as an NIH Medical Scientist Training Program since 1982. The goal of the program is to train the next generation of diverse physician scientists as leaders in biomedical research and academic medicine, helping meet the urgent needs identified by the NIH for the future biomedical and translational research workforce. Program alumni include a dean, department chairs, two MSTP directors, and many faculty members at leading academic medical centers. Outcomes of trainees in the past 15 years, described in this application, are excellent; 91% of graduates who have completed all their training are physician-scientists in academia or industry. Attrition over this same period was 7.6%. The large institutional commitment to the program is evidenced by the investment of significant resources to pay for stipend and tuition costs not covered by NIH, program administration, operations, and salary support for committed effort by the directors. Our program integrates rigorous predoctoral training in basic biomedical sciences leading to the PhD degree with intensive medical education leading to the MD degree, producing graduates who are superbly prepared to become physician-scientists engaged in translational research. The MD and PhD phases of training are distinct, but with numerous integrative and social activities, including seminars, retreats, dinners, journal clubs, grand rounds, to promote program cohesion and inculcate identity among trainees as future physician- scientists. There are presently 90 trainees in the program, all of whom are fully funded. Continued funding of 22 slots is requested to partially support trainees, generally for 24 months.
Physician-scientists are uniquely suited for the bidirectional translation of basic science research and clinical medicine. With the exponential increase in biomedical knowledge, the proliferation of new technologies, and the aging of the biomedical research workforce, the need to train diverse physician-scientists who can capitalize on these advances to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease is greater than ever. The Medical Scientist Training Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center is helping foster the next generation of physician-scientists who will improve human health through biomedical research.
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