Physicians who engage in research play a vital role in developing novel, innovative approaches to diagnosing and treating disease. Nurturing the careers of doctors whose work takes them to both patients’ bedsides and the laboratory bench is a top priority of the Division of Physician-Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Such was the genesis of WashU Medicine’s Dean’s Scholars initiative, established in 2020. The program provides funding and mentorship for up to two years to support early-career physician-scientists as they pursue lab research. The division recently announced its fourth class of Dean’s Scholars. They are: Amit Bery, MD; Lila Nolan, MD; Marilia Pinzone, MD; Andrew Roth, MD; and Brandon Tan, MD.
The Dean’s Scholars program also aims to help address a nationwide shortage of physician-scientists. The program’s support helps physicians integrate patient care with laboratory-based research so that doctors who identify pressing clinical questions can turn to the lab to find answers that help improve care for patients.
Only 1.5% of U.S. physicians conduct research, according to the Physician-Scientist Support Foundation, and this number has been declining due to numerous barriers. Most physician-scientist programs are comprised of individuals who hold both a medical degree and doctoral degree, but the Dean’s Scholars program exclusively supports physicians who only have medical degrees.
“We are thrilled to support these talented clinicians, who provide outstanding care at patients’ bedsides and want to engage in biomedical research,” 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. “Doctors on the front lines of caring for patients who also pursue research are uniquely placed to drive new discoveries to benefit patients, and this program helps provide the support they need to pursue this important career path.”