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New programs restore interest in physician-scientist research careers

Recent initiatives appear to have created renewed interest for young physicians to pursue research careers, according to a study in the September 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on medical research.

Results of the study were presented today at a JAMA media briefing on medical research.

Physician-scientists, defined as individuals with a medical degree who perform medical research as their primary professional activity, have contributed much to the preeminent position of the U.S. in medical science, according to background information in the article. The unique perspective that physician-scientists bring to the medical research workforce is that their scientific questions arise at the bedside and in the clinic. Despite this perspective, the pipeline of physician-scientists has had a serious problem, first described more than a generation ago: the physician-scientist population in the U.S. is smaller and older than it was 25 years ago. These and other trends have led some observers to conclude that the physician-scientist is a threatened species. A variety of factors were thought to contribute to this problem, including increasing indebtedness of medical school graduates caused by rapidly rising medical school tuition costs.

Several National Institutes of Health (NIH)sponsored groups, private foundations, and national organizations called for new initiatives and award programs aimed at revitalizing the physician-scientist career path. These initiatives were begun between 1998 and 2002.

These initiatives included NIH career development awards for young physicians being trained to carry out clinical research, awards for established clinical investigators, awards for academic institutions with programs supporting clinical research training and infrastructure, and a series of competitive loan repayment programs (LRPs) for young physician-scientists with significant debt.

The private not-for-profit sector created new awards for yo
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Contact: Timothy J. Ley, M.D.
314-362-8831
JAMA and Archives Journals
20-Sep-2005


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