Unlike past generations, physicians now entering the world of academic medicine no longer seek a single mentor, said Edward J. Benz Jr., M.D., FW ’80, a former Yale faculty member who is president of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Mentorship for young scientists, said Benz, a prominent hematologist, has undergone a paradigm shift.

Unlike past generations, physicians now entering the world of academic medicine no longer seek a single mentor, said Edward J. Benz Jr., M.D., FW ’80, a former Yale faculty member who is president of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Mentorship for young scientists, said Benz, a prominent hematologist, has undergone a paradigm shift.

Rather than learning from a succession of experienced scientists, as he did, young scientists now benefit from “spontaneously forming networks” of investigators in diverse disciplines, Benz told the audience at Student Research Day in early May.

Posters lining the corridors of the Jane Ellen Hope Building described the research of 63 students completing M.D., M.D./Ph.D. and M.P.H. degrees. Projects included a comparison of expected and actual waiting times in emergency departments, a study of a South African program to prevent vertical transmission of HIV, research on the impact of controlled ovarian hyperstimulation on the success rate of in vitro fertilization and a study of how the molecular genetics of KRIT1 affect the pathogenesis of cavernous malformations.

Reflecting on Benz’s description of changes in the system of mentoring, 7th-year M.D./Ph.D. student Stephanie Eisenbarth said she’d had several key mentors, in particular H. Kim Bottomly, Ph.D., professor of immunobiology. Graduate school, Eisenbarth said, is structured to provide students with a committee of three to six faculty members. “They, too, have a significant impact on your development as a scientist, and I think this is a positive influence on the process,” she said. Her study of the role of endotoxin in asthma pathogenesis was published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine last December.

After hearing presentations by five students with award-winning theses, Dennis D. Spencer, M.D., HS ’77, the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery, gestured toward the presenters and commented: “We see not students, but future colleagues.”

Some of the student theses can be read online at http://ymtdl.med.yale.edu.