This application requests the competing renewal of UNC's MSTP award. Our primary goal is to train an outstanding group of men and women committed to become physician-scientists, fully capable of bridging the gap between science and clinical medicine. We achieve this goal by recruiting to UNC candidates from diverse backgrounds who bring with them a variety of academic and research interests. Over the past ten years, our program has grown from 64 to 78 students, drawn to UNC from many of the best colleges and universities all across the USA. Their academic credentials are stellar: this year's incoming class, for example, had a mean GPA of 3.8 and a mean MCAT of 515 (93rd percentile), with all students having substantial research experience. Our students are pursuing their graduate training in 18 individual departments and 3 curricula representing the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, and the College of Arts and Sciences. They are receiving a high percentage of honors, publishing very well (average of 8 manuscripts per student), successfully competing for a variety of awards and independent funding (e.g., 20 of our students hold F30 awards from the NIH), and completing the dual degree program with the average time of 8 years. Importantly, 91% of our graduates are either in training or in research intensive positions with 87% in academic medicine at excellent institutions. Our leadership team includes Dr. Toni Darville and Dr. Mohanish Deshmukh, who serve as Co-Directors and Alison Regan, who is the Assistant Director. Our program emphasizes strong education in clinical medicine that is well integrated with superb research opportunities not only in biomedical sciences but also in other important areas of public health. Throughout their training, we promote a framework that compels students to define clinical implications of their research, and how research affects clinical care. Our program leverages resources from the UNC Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA), the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP), links students with Clinician Scientist role models, and structurally integrates research and clinical work in the thesis process, and in research-in-progress and clinical case conferences. These mechanisms help ensure that our students learn essential skills including oral presentation, manuscript writing and rigorous data analysis. Critical grant writing skills are taught through a rigorous F30 bootcamp and mock review sessions. Additionally, we meet extensively with each student throughout their training to ensure that they have a complete support system for research, clinical, and career mentorship via peer colleagues and faculty. Finally, we expose them to leadership and career development opportunities to prepare them for careers as Clinician Scientist leaders.
We are in the midst of a dynamic era of biomedical research. The quickening pace of scientific discovery demands a new generation of physician-scientists who are able to understand the languages that are spoken both in the research setting and at the bedside. Using this knowledge, these individuals will be ideally positioned to make significant contributions to and improvements in human health, and thereby become the next generation of leaders in biomedical science.
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