This position statement originated from a working group meeting convened on April 15, 2015, by the NHLBI and incorporates follow-up contributions by the participants as well as other thought leaders subsequently consulted, who together represent research fields relevant to all branches of the NIH. The group was deliberately composed not only of individuals with a current research emphasis in the glycosciences, but also of many experts from other fields, who evinced a strong interest in being involved in the discussions. The original goal was to discuss the value of creating centers of excellence for training the next generation of biomedical investigators in the glycosciences. A broader theme that emerged was the urgent need to bring the glycosciences back into the mainstream of biology by integrating relevant education into the curricula of medical, graduate, and postgraduate training programs, thus generating a critical sustainable workforce that can advance the much-needed translation of glycosciences into a more complete understanding of biology and the enhanced practice of medicine.
Peter Agre, Carolyn Bertozzi, Mina Bissell, Kevin P. Campbell, Richard D. Cummings, Umesh R. Desai, Mary Estes, Terence Flotte, Guy Fogleman, Fred Gage, David Ginsburg, Jeffrey I. Gordon, Gerald Hart, Vincent Hascall, Laura Kiessling, Stuart Kornfeld, John Lowe, John Magnani, Lara K. Mahal, Ruslan Medzhitov, Richard J. Roberts, Robert Sackstein, Rita Sarkar, Ronald Schnaar, Nancy Schwartz, Ajit Varki, David Walt, Irving Weissman
Clinical investigators within the Canadian and international communities were shocked when the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced that their funding for the MD/PhD program would be terminated after the 2015–2016 academic year. The program has trained Canadian clinician-scientists for more than two decades. The cancellation of the program is at odds with the CIHR’s mandate, which stresses the translation of new knowledge into improved health for Canadians, as well as with a series of internal reports that have recommended expanding the program. Although substantial evidence supports the analogous Medical Scientist Training Program in the United States, no parallel analysis of the MD/PhD program has been performed in Canada. Here, we highlight the long-term consequences of the program’s cancellation in the context of increased emphasis on translational research. We argue that alternative funding sources cannot ensure continuous support for students in clinician-scientist training programs and that platform funding of the MD/PhD program is necessary to ensure leadership in translational research.
David D.W. Twa, Jordan W. Squair, Michael A. Skinnider, Jennifer X. Ji
The 2014 NIH Physician-Scientist Workforce (PSW) Working Group report identified distressing trends among the small proportion of physicians who consider research to be their primary occupation. If unchecked, these trends will lead to a steep decline in the size of the workforce. They include high rates of attrition among young investigators, failure to maintain a robust and diverse pipeline, and a marked increase in the average age of physician-scientists, as older investigators have chosen to continue working and too few younger investigators have entered the workforce to replace them when they eventually retire. While the policy debates continue, here we propose four actions that can be implemented now. These include applying lessons from the MD-PhD training experience to postgraduate training, shortening the time to independence by at least 5 years, achieving greater diversity and numbers in training programs, and establishing Physician-Scientist Career Development offices at medical centers and universities. Rather than waiting for the federal government to solve our problems, we urge the academic community to address these goals by partnering with the NIH and national clinical specialty and medical organizations.
Dianna M. Milewicz, Robin G. Lorenz, Terence S. Dermody, Lawrence F. Brass, the National Association of MD-PhD Programs Executive Committee
Physician-scientists, with in-depth training in both medicine and research, are uniquely poised to address pressing challenges at the forefront of biomedicine. In recent years, a number of organizations have outlined obstacles to maintaining the pipeline of physician-scientists, classifying them as an endangered species. As in-training and early-career physician-scientists across the spectrum of the pipeline, we share here our perspective on the current challenges and available opportunities that might aid our generation in becoming independent physician-scientists. These challenges revolve around the difficulties in recruitment and retention of trainees, the length of training and lack of support at key training transition points, and the rapidly and independently changing worlds of medical and scientific training. In an era of health care reform and an environment of increasingly sparse NIH funding, these challenges are likely to become more pronounced and complex. As stakeholders, we need to coalesce behind core strategic points and regularly assess the impact and progress of our efforts with appropriate metrics. Here, we expand on the challenges that we foresee and offer potential opportunities to ensure a more sustainable physician-scientist workforce.
Dania Daye, Chirag B. Patel, Jaimo Ahn, Freddy T. Nguyen
John C. Gore
M.G. Myriam Hunink, G. Scott Gazelle
Ronald G. Blasberg, Juri Gelovani Tjuvajev
John R. Forder, Gerald M. Pohost
Nora D. Volkow, Joanna S. Fowler, Gene-Jack Wang
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