Pipeline of research physicians grows

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 24, 2005

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The number of physicians pursuing research careers appears to be benefiting from increased medical student interest and greater funding from loan repayment programs, according to a study in the September Academic Medicine.

While much has been said about a general shortage of physicians and a trend away from primary care, there also is concern that the physician-scientist population has shrunk in size and grown older during the past 25 years. It has raised concerns about the future of medical research with a clinical emphasis.

In response, a number of initiatives were launched between 1998 and 2002. Efforts include a National Institutes of Health new career award for young physicians doing clinical research, private foundation-funded awards for young and established physician-scientists, and medical school programs that encourage students to participate in research while working toward medical degrees.

The authors said it's unclear if the physician-scientist population is being adequately replenished, but it is clear that the field is heading in the right direction. A larger fraction of medical students are indicating a serious interest in research careers, more first-time NIH grant applicants are being seen and the number of MD-PhDs being funded for research is on the upswing, suggesting that these doctors are able to sustain research careers, according to the study.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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