Education A Conversation With Future Physician-Scientists: UR CTSI’s Academic Research Track Turns Medical Students into Researchers Over several decades, concerns have risen about the declining number of physician-scientists, with reports pointing to early career training and support as a possible solution. The University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (UR CTSI) Academic Research Track, which allows medical students to try their hands at research, has helped two University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry students take the next step toward a research career: joining an MD-PhD program. Ian De Andrea-Lazarus and Samuel Weisenthal, The University of Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program 2017 joined the University of Rochester Medical Scientist incoming class, with former UR CTSI Academic Research Track participants Training Program after finishing their Academic Samuel Weisenthal and Ian De Andrea-Lazarus (far right). Research Track projects. This is a move that a new study from the Association of American Medical Colleges suggests will help them stay in science. The study tracked MDPhD program graduates over 50 years and showed that most stuck with their research careers. Ian and Sam explain what drove them to pursue careers as physician-scientists. Why did you join the UR CTSI’s Academic Research Track? Ian: I’ve always craved knowledge and enjoy the challenge of pushing the boundaries of existing human knowledge. I had several years of research experience before applying for medical school – as an undergraduate research assistant in the Linguistics Department at Gallaudet University and as a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). For two years, I worked in the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at NCI, studying a non-selective cation channel found mainly in the peripheral nervous system that is involved in the transmission and modulation of pain.
UR CTSI Annual Report 2017–18
Sam: Like Ian, I was inspired by my time as a post-baccalaureate trainee at the National Institutes of Health, where I worked for a year in a computational radiology lab. I also had a great time doing a summer research project in health informatics at Rochester. I joined the Academic Research Track because I wanted to study the vast amount of data being collected through the electronic health record. In a single year, the University of Rochester Medical Center alone accrues more than two terabytes of non-image data (a lot). I was particularly interested in how this data could be used to predict – and hopefully help prevent – adverse health events in patients.
How did your experience in the Academic Research Track drive you to join the University of Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program? Ian: I had originally wanted to apply for the University of Rochester Medical Scientist Training Program but I was afraid that my application would not be competitive enough. The Academic Research Track was the bridge that allowed me to pursue my goal of becoming a physician-scientist and reinvigorated my interest in research. The program allowed me to obtain a master’s degree in Public Health along with the tools and drive I needed to apply for the MD-PhD program.
Annual report for the University of Rochester Clinical & Translational Science Institute.