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AAMC Submits Comments to NIH on Strategies to Enhance Physician Scientist Training through the NIGMS MSTP

August 25, 2017

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Jodi (Lubetsky) Yellin, Director, Science Policy

The AAMC August 8 submitted comments to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) in response to a Request for Information on strategies to enhance physician-scientist training through the NIGMS Medical Scientist (MD-PhD) Training Program (MSTP).

In its letter, the AAMC recognizes that MD-PhD combined degree programs provide an important training pathway for those pursuing careers as physician scientists. The AAMC also thanks NIH for its leadership and support of MD-PhD combined degree programs through the MSTP, which has produced over 10,000 graduates since its inception in the 1960s. Additionally, the association presents a number of recommendations to NIGMS, including:

Multiple “on-ramps” should be available for pursuing a career as a physician scientist and for entering MD-PhD programs;

Individuals pursuing an MD-PhD program ideally should have prior research experience to ensure that they know a career as a physician scientist is right for them, although this may not always be possible, particularly for applicants from non-standard backgrounds;

MSTPs should implement holistic review of applicants and maintain a strong commitment to increasing diversity of their applicant pool and trainees;

Shifting training costs to the trainees has the potential to move them away from entering research careers;

Programs should emphasize professional development, mentor engagement, individual development, and wellness; and

Institutional infrastructure must create a robust environment for trainees.

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