Physician Scientist Pathway (PSP)
- Mentored Research Training
PSP Mentored Research Training
PSP trainees conduct research with the mentorship of a Yale University primary investigator and a ‘Training and Career Advisory Committee’. Mentor selection may range from faculty within Laboratory Medicine to faculty within any department of Yale University, which have in the past included Genetics, Immunobiology, Bioengineering, Cell Biology, Pharmacology, Internal Medicine, Neurosciences, and Pathology.
Trainees can enter the research phase of the PSP before, during, or following clinical resident or fellowship training. The PSP is funded by the Laboratory Medicine NIH T32 training grant, which has been successfully renewed for 21 years, including most recently in 2021.
During the research phase, PSP trainees are encouraged to apply for a career development award (K series) funded by the NIH or private foundations. Although funding of an award is not required, it provides additional salary and benefits support for mentored research and career development during the trainee’s transition to their first faculty position. Yale PSP trainees have an excellent history of obtaining career development awards and moving to tenure-track faculty positions.
Laboratory medicine has a long history of supporting this critical career choice, and we recruit for PST residents with the goal of facilitating every aspect of their career through achieving junior faculty status, hopefully here at Yale.
How does Yale Lab Med work to assure their success as physician-scientists?
Mentorship is one of our key strengths, not only within Lab Medicine but also throughout the School of Medicine and beyond. Many of our faculty have gone through the PST pathway, understand the challenges that young investigators face, and have mentored PST residents to successful careers. This experience helps us to guide choice of post-doctoral labs, establish advisory committees for the optimal chance of success at early career development [K] awards, and give guidance to both hypothesis-driven work and areas of technical expertise. All trainees have a “career committee” that augments the primary mentor-mentee experience.
The entire University faculty are available to our PST recruits as primary mentor, not just laboratory medicine and pathology and not just departments in the School of Medicine, to choose where they perform their early research work, albeit always knowing their home base is in Lab Medicine. Prior trainees have worked in biomedical engineering, protein biochemistry, basic chemistry, and informatics/data science, as well as immunobiology, microbial pathogenesis, health outcomes research, the stem cell center, the vascular biology and transplantation center, the cancer center, and neurosciences, to name a few of the diverse areas of investigation. Our PST residents go on to outstanding academic, investigational, industry, and leadership positions; see the website for a partial list of our graduates and where they are today. Examples include Terry Geiger who is the executive VP for research at St. Jude’s, Stephanie Eisenbarth moving from Yale to be the chair of Immunology at Northwestern, Mike Hodsdon who is a senior investigator at Eli Lilly, and many others.
Although the majority of our PST recruits are MD PhD’s, we also welcome PST MD’s who are drawn to investigative work. Some of those PST recruits have taken advantage of Yale’s innovative Investigational Medicine Program through which our PST residents obtain a PhD while performing their laboratory investigation and prior to coming on staff. Other options include a Masters or PhD in Biomedical Engineering and a Masters of Health Sciences.
Throughout all of this time, the Department puts resources in the hands of our PST recruits to give them a higher trajectory in their pursuits. This includes maintaining a clinical PGY level salary while they are supported on the Departmental T32 training grant and providing departmental support for a technologist after receiving notice of a career development award. Research and clinical training is integrated and for those who may also want to pursue subspecialty clinical training, the fellowship experience is integrated into a master training plan. The clinical fellowships also all have a clinician-scientist track for individuals who may have done their initial residency training elsewhere.
Support for our PST recruits comes not only from the Department; the school of medicine has a new office that is dedicated to supporting physician-scientists early in their careers (https://medicine.yale.edu/research/opssd/). The office provides training in grant writing, survival skills, and forms a nidus for interaction of physician-scientists across all disciplines (Janeway Society). Hence, our PST residents have a regular mechanism for meeting like-minded individuals from other disciplines, working on collaborative projects, and getting additional constructive feedback on grant proposals and aims.