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Letter from the Director

December 06, 2019
by Barbara Kazmierczak

Perhaps it is natural that December is a time to both look back and look forward—the year that was, the year that is coming—but there seem to be many important transitions to note for 2020. Our current dean, Bob Alpern, will be stepping down at the end of January, and Nancy Brown will take the helm at YSM. As Chair of Medicine at Vanderbilt, she has been a strong supporter of physician-scientists. We are excited to welcome her to Yale and have invited her to share her story and ideas as the 2020 Perspectives of Women in Science lecturer.

As NIGMS transitions to new training grant mechanisms for both MD-PhD and PhD students, we are also looking at the end of our 45 year MSTP award—and the beginning of our “new” T32 proposal and program. I’m so grateful to all the students, alumni, faculty who patiently responded to multiple surveys and requests for information, and marvel at the work that the dedicated program staff did to pull all that data together into the required NIH tables and appendices that went into the 966 page submission. Putting together the grant was an opportunity to take a close look at the accomplishments of our graduates, to evaluate what works, and to examine what we can do better to reach our goal of training rigorous, visionary and resilient physician-scientists. I’m eager to look to the future, and excited by the spirit of innovation and experimentation that quite appropriately characterizes our program. In particular, student ideas and input are shaping new ways in which we interview and recruit applicants this year, provide peer mentoring to students, and think about fostering community and resilience within the program.

This coming year will also mark our celebration of 50 years of MD-PhD training at Yale. It’s official: we’re inviting current students, alumni and program-affiliated faculty to reunite in New Haven on October 9-11, 2020. The reunion program will begin on Friday evening with a reception for students and alumni and continue on Saturday morning with small group activities for students and alums that focus on research, sponsorship and mentorship. We are planning a symposium for Saturday afternoon that looks to the future, with speakers who envision opportunities to advance health through discovery in the coming 50 years, and imagine how physician-scientist training “success” will be defined in the next half century. There will be time for moderated discussion with the speakers, and a gala dinner at the Omni to end the evening. Sunday provides one more chance for students and alums to mingle over brunch and in small group activities throughout New Haven.

I look forward to working with many of you to fill in this broad outline of a program and hope that you will participate in this celebration. We’ll be sending a link for registration soon: the reunion events will be at no cost, but we urge you to reserve a hotel room quickly, as Yale College has just scheduled Family Weekend 2020 for that same time…and our block of reserved hotel rooms is a pretty amazing and scarce resource all of a sudden.

Wishing you all the very best for what remains in 2019 and for what 2020 will bring,

Dr. K.

Submitted by Reiko Fitzsimonds on December 05, 2019