HSCI Clinician Scientist Program expands

The HSCI launched its Clinician Scientist Program (CSP) in 2005 with its first MD-PhD Fellowship awarded to Ashutov Jadhav, then in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Now holding both an MD and a PhD, Jadhav received a stipend and tuition support for the final two years of his MD degree. Since then, thanks to the generous support of donors and the overwhelmingly positive responses of participants and mentors, the program has grown in both size and scope.

As a result of a gift from GlaxoSmithKline in support of the program and a recently received bequest from the Ruthe B. Cowl estate to establish an endowment fund for the program, in 2009, HSCI was able to expand the CSP to now include Postdoctoral Fellowships and Instructor Development Awards. Under the direction of HSCI Executive Committee member, Kenneth Chien, MD, PhD, these new awards are specifically designed to complement the existing MD-PhD fellowships to support clinician scientists in the career stages that directly follow completion of the joint degree.

“As a clinician scientist, you get funding for the 1stand 2nd year, but for the 3rdyear you have to find your own, so this fellowship funded me at a critical time,” said Postdoctoral Fellowship recipient Michael Wilson, MD, PhD.

The new Postdoctoral Fellowships provide two years of support to scientists who have just completed their MD-PhD programs, are beginning their clinical training, and are in need of salary and/or research support. The Instructor Development Awards provide two years of support for those within three years of the completion of their MD-PhD, and as newly appointed, or about-to-be appointed instructors, are beginning to build their own laboratories.

This year, the CSP is now supporting its third MD-PhD Fellowship recipient, Dr. Srinivas Viswanathan. Viswanathan completed both his graduate and postdoctoral research as a member of HSCI Executive Committee member George Daley’s, MD, PhD, laboratory at Children’s Hospital Boston. He has since left the Daley lab to complete his medical studies and is expected to finish his degree in May 2011. HSCI’s second MD-PhD Fellow, Zuzhana Tothova, MD, PhD, successfully completed her degrees in the spring of 2009.

HSCI is also pleased to announce the first recipients of the Postdoctoral Fellowships and Instructor Development Awards. Albert Lam, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Kiran Musunuru, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and Michael Wilson, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School received Postdoctoral Fellowships. Ibrahim Domian, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Paul Lerou, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Lars Mueller, MD, PhD, of Children’s Hospital Boston, and Joy Wu, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital have received Instructor Development Awards.

In January 2010, approximately nine months into their new awards, the recipients of the Postdoctoral Fellowships and Instructor Development Awards gave presentations to the CSP’s Steering Committee. It was an opportunity for senior HSCI faculty to hear the details of the work, review the impact that the program is having, even at this early stage, and provide guidance to the recipients. In his presentation, Musunuru noted that his fellowship has already helped him to win additional federal funding and both Lerou and Mueller remarked, in separate presentations, “This funding has been instrumental at a critical time.”