Innovative Pitt Program Addresses National Shortage of Physician Scientists
The University of Pittsburgh Physician Scientist Incubator program was one of five such programs that the Burroughs Wellcome Fund selected from 92 submissions. The fund launched the award program in response to a January 2017 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighting the need for colleges and universities to address a shortage of physician-scientist researchers, as only 1.5 percent of physicians in the U.S. today conduct research.
“We’re at a time of tremendous potential in medicine where the pace of translating scientific potential into therapeutics or new clinical strategies requires that people have a foot in both words – with clinical and scientific knowledge working together. A lot can be lost in translation when a doctor in the clinical world is talking to a scientist who is based only in the lab,” said Mark Gladwin, M.D., principal investigator of the project and chair of the Department of Medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine.
In addition to Pitt, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund issued awards to Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center-Dallas and Duke University Medical Center.
“The physician-scientist shortage is not a new challenge, and its complexity has increased as biomedical science has evolved,” said John Burris, Ph.D., president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. “We sought to address the need by helping institutions create new and novel training programs that can become models for others to replicate.”
Pitt already has a robust program in place for medical students to earn both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees en route to becoming physician-scientists. Additionally, the Pitt School of Medicine’s long-time dean, Arthur Levine, M.D., has championed a unique program that trains medical students to excel in laboratory research and write scientific papers and grant applications without pursuing a Ph.D. degree. The new Physician …