The Division of Physician-Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has selected four physicians for its second class of Dean’s Scholars. The program provides up to two years of financial support and mentorship to aspiring, early-career physician-scientists, along with dedicated time for conducting laboratory research.
The newly named class includes: Mary “Maggie” Mullen, MD; Matthew Shew, MD; Erica Young, MD; and Rong Mei Zhang, MD.
Initiated in 2020, the program represents the school’s commitment to address a nationwide shortage of physician-scientists by nurturing the career development of physicians who treat patients but also want to pursue laboratory-based biomedical research.
Physician-scientists are considered crucial to developing new therapeutics and approaches to diagnosing and treating disease. However, their numbers are dwindling. While many physician-scientists hold medical and doctoral degrees, the Dean’s Scholars program aims to strengthen the research skills of those who have earned only medical degrees.
“The Dean’s Scholars program is a testament to how important it is for the School of Medicine to mold and mentor talented physician-researchers,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor. “Our Dean’s Scholars have proven themselves as excellent physicians who also demonstrate promise in basic scientific research. As we look at the future, we want our training programs to be supporting and promoting excellence for all kinds of careers, including physician-scientists as a part of this Dean’s Scholars program but also careers as dedicated clinicians, dedicated educators and entrepreneurs.”
The program is supported with a Physician-Scientist Institutional Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund — a nonprofit organization that supports biomedical science through research and education. The School of Medicine and its departments also provide financial support for the program.
The four new Dean’s Scholars underwent a competitive application process that required interviews with senior faculty and presentations of their proposed research projects.