The focus of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is to train outstanding young people in the intellectual discipline of being a scientific investigator and a thoroughly trained physician. Although the ultimate career pathway for individual trainees may range from the conduct of basic biomedical research to clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents or procedures, the net effect of this cadre of investigators will be to increase the translation of basic biomedical understanding into clinical practice. Our Program aims to (1) offer superb classroom training in both basic science education and the fundamentals of clinical education;(2) train students in the tools necessary to become successful biomedical scientists, including grant and manuscript writing and time and laboratory management;and (3) graduate physician-scientists who go on to become leaders in academic medical centers throughout the country. The basic structure of the MSTP curriculum at UAB is similar to most programs with three distinct phases - two years of basic science course work and laboratory rotations in the summers (Pre-clinical Phase), an extended period of laboratory research leading to the PhD (Research Phase), followed by a clinical training leading to the MD degree (Clinical Phase). One key difference in our program is that students take both graduate school coursework and medical school coursework during their first two years and integrate an ambulatory clinic clerkship into their graduate years. Our MSTP students can choose to do their PhD in multiple degree-granting programs on campus and will get their graduate coursework in our new theme based programs, which include cancer biology, human pathoblology, immunology, microbiology, neuroscience, genetics, biomedical engineering, and biochemistry. The average time to complete our program is 7.9 years. The program usually accepts 8 students each year and currently has a total student body of 58 active students. In the current year, the UAB MSTP T32 award provided support for 12 slots, although the study section approved 14 slots. In this application, we propose an increase to a total of 20 training slots over a five-year period.
The rapid advances in biomedical sciences of the past 30 years has resulted in a critical need for well trained investigators who also have direct involvement with clinical Medicine to translate the multiple new discoveries in biomedical science into workable clinical applications. Joint training of the most outstanding individuals in both modern medicine and the special intellectual perspective and technical know-how of basic biomedical science is a key component of meeting this need.
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