BWF Invests $12.5 Million to Address Physician-Scientist Workforce Shortage

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC -- In January 2017, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article on the need for colleges and universities to address a shortage of physician-scientist researchers, noting that fewer than 1.5 percent of physicians in the United States today conduct research.  This followed on many years of expressed concern about this situation in which the physician’s frontline expertise and understanding of patient medical problems is lost in the important biomedical research that occurs in the laboratory.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is addressing this human health research issue through its Physician-Scientist Institutional Award.  This program provides $2.5 million ($500,000 over five years) to five institutions in the U.S. and Canada to address training gaps and issues in the physician-scientist pipeline.  After a year of study and review, the Fund is proud to announce the recipients of the award.

The recipients are:

Stanford University
Principal Investigator: 
Paul J. Utz, M.D.
Title:  Stanford - Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) Scholars Program

University of Pittsburgh
Principal Investigator:  Mark Gladwin, M.D.
Title:  The University of Pittsburgh Physician Scientist Incubator

Vanderbilt University
Principal Investigator:  James R. Goldenring, M.D., Ph.D.
Title:  Supporting Careers in Research for Interventional Physicians and Surgeons (SCRIPS)

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center-Dallas
Principal Investigator: 
Dwight Arnold Towler, M.D., Ph.D.
Title:  The UT Southwestern TARDIS Program: Training Resident Doctors as Innovators in Science

Duke University Medical Center
Principal Investigator:
  Michael D. Gunn, M.D.
Title:  The Duke Integrated MD-Scientist Development Program

“The physician-scientist shortage is not a new challenge and its complexity has increased as biomedical science has evolved,” said Fund President Dr. John Burris.  “We sought to address the need by helping institutions create new and novel training programs that can become models for others to replicate.”

For the Physician-Scientist Institutional Award, the Fund received 92 pre-proposals and funded 30 proposal preparation grants to allow the recipients to convene their colleagues to develop a program in depth.  The Fund’s advisory committee conducted 12 interviews before selecting the final five.

The declining population of physician scientists has been an area of focus for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for the past decade.  The Fund offers a competitive grant program, Career Award for Medical Scientists, that provides funding for the transition from postdoctoral position to a tenure track faculty position.  Our funding provides dollars for research as well as for protecting time spent for conducting research. 


Media Contact:  Russ Campbell at or 919-667-8866

4 June 2018