Nurturing future physician-scientists

May 21, 2018

What is Mollie Marr's ideal job? The M.D./Ph.D. student doesn't hesitate: a faculty position as an emergency medicine physician–neuroscientist who studies psychological stress and trauma to inform acute care.

While her M.D. classmates get ready for residency this summer, this future physician-scientist is halfway through her training, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

"For me as a medical student, training in research is so important because it's the way we iterate change in medicine," she said. "Clinical experiences need to inform biomedical research so we have the knowledge to push policy and make our systems of care better."

Marr is one of 34 students in OHSU's M.D./Ph.D.program, a nationally recognized program devoted to training outstanding physician-scientists with the breadth and depth of knowledge to become leaders in medicine and transdisciplinary biomedical research.

Under the leadership of David Jacoby, M.D., interim chair and professor of medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, interest in the program has grown, along with its size. Seven years ago, the program received 120 applicants; this year, 195 applied.

The program is also working to expand the diversity of its students. In April, OHSU brought University of Maryland, Baltimore County, President Freeman Hrabowski to campus to deliver its Hatfield Lecture. UMBC graduates more African-American students who go onto earn M.D./Ph.D.'s than any other college in the country, and OHSU hopes to attract more underrepresented minorities to its programs.

For those M.D. students who want to try research but can't commit to the eight years required to earn an M.D./Ph.D., YOUR M.D. offers the Physician-Scientist Experience, which provides dedicated time for introductory research in partnership with the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute.

By offering pathways and exposure to research, the school is working to bolster the physician-scientist workforce.