BWF provides $12.5 million to support physician-scientist development programs

Encouraging the next generation of medically-trained researchers

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – At a time when approximately 1.5 percent of the overall physician workforce is engaged in research, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund has awarded a second round of Physician-Scientist Institutional Awards to help increase that number.  These awards allow for institutions to create novel programs to encourage physicians to embark on careers in research.

Since the programs inception, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund has provided 10 awards for an investment of $25 million.  Each of the awardee institutions is charged with encouraging and training single degree M.D.’s to establish research careers.

“Our mission at the Fund is to provide funding for areas that are underserved in the research enterprise,” said Fund President Dr. John E. Burris.  “These programs will serve as models to other institutions on how to establish the new generation of physician-scientists.”

The 2019 recipients of the Physician-Scientist Institutional Awards are:

Texas A&M University
Principal Investigator: David P. Huston, MD
Title: Academy of Physician Scientists

Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine and College of Engineering, in partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital and Research Institute and the Texas Medical Center will establish an Academy of Physician Scientists to serve as a pipeline for attracting and nurturing medical students and physicians during residency and into junior faculty, to pursue successful research careers as physician engineers. This initiative will provide intensely mentored research training and a robust curriculum within a community of physician engineers, and is expected to foster and expedite opportunities to progress from student to resident to a new generation of M.D.-only physician engineers who are highly competitive for independent research careers.

University of California-Los Angeles
Principle Investigator: Debra Krakow, MD
Title: Cultivating and Sustaining M.D. Researchers

UCLA will develop a leadership structure and program within the Dean’s office and recruit medical students, residents, and fellows by offering differing and overlapping approaches for each level of training. Special emphasis will be placed on identifying women during fellowship and providing an additional two years of protected research time and support.

University of Chicago
Principal Investigator: Julian Solway, MD
Title: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Early Scientific Training to Prepare for Research Excellence Post-graduation (BEST-PREP)

BEST-PREP uses evidence-based interventions to remove the barriers in medical school that discourage entry into basic and translational science (BTS) research careers among MD-only students. Interventions include: 1) a seminar series and summer research experience during MS1 that enhance research exposure to BTS in the pre-clinical curriculum, 2) a dedicated research year with stipend to allow students sufficient time to conduct BTS research, 3) a full tuition scholarship for MS4 to reduce debt burden, 4) early conditional acceptance into select residencies to reduce anxiety in the residency application process and to create a bridge for students to continue their research into residency, and 5) a Certificate in Basic/Translational Science to recognize the research expertise of MD-only students.

Washington University
Principle Investigator: Wayne Yokoyama, MD
Title: Novel Targeted Strategies to Train Successful Physician-Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine

This program will establish a new Division of Medical Sciences to unite and oversee physician-scientist training at the institutional level, and develop new programs to enhance the training of MD-only physician-scientists interested in basic research. To address a missed opportunity, it will develop The Interesting Patient Study (TIPS) program where clinical residents and fellows will be inspired to study their interesting patients with basic science faculty mentors. To address key challenges facing MD-only trainees, it will establish the Dean’s Scholar Program to enhance their scientific preparation and competitiveness, and the Community of Academic Physician-Scientists in Training to provide events and seminars designed to give them a unique identity, networking opportunities, and guidance in navigating the career path.

Weill Cornell Medicine Physician-Scientist Academia
Principal Investigator: Kyu Rhee MD, PhD
Title: Weill Cornell Medicine Physician-Scientist Academy

This application seeks to repopulate the pipeline of MD-only physician-scientists by creating an institutionally centralized program that will equip academic clinical departments to train MD-only physicians for full time careers in laboratory investigation. This program is built on three core tenets - start early, stay focused, and stay connected. These tenets address key barriers identified by the NIH Physician–Scientist Working Group and will be put into practice through the following approach: (i) an individualized, multidisciplinary mentoring process that will enable trainees, from late stage medical students to residents and clinical fellows, to integrate longitudinally structured scientific training into their clinical training that begins at the time of matriculation, and focuses on the professional finish line of faculty independence; (ii) a financial support mechanism that will enable trainees to minimize the distracting impact of work-life balance; and (iii) a Multi-institutional Consortium dedicated to the Advancement of Physician Scientists (MCAPS) that will jumpstart networking and thereby facilitate longitudinal career stage transitions.