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R & D Committee Ongoing Programs:
Early recruitment program for M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program: The purpose of this summer research program is long-term recruitment of outstanding undergraduate students into biomedical research and the M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program at UNMC. The stipend for this program is $3,000 for 10 weeks of research. One hundred sixty-five applications were received for this summer program, of which 74 provided the additional required materials that completed their application. Once again, the quality of the applications improved from last year. A total of seven students were selected to participate. The mean composite GPA of the accepted students is 3.81. Each year students are given an opportunity to shadow a physician during the ten week program. This has been very successful and students will be given this opportunity again this summer.
Joseph P. Gilmore Outstanding Investigator Award: The committee reviewed the curriculum vitae of two nominated faculty. Dr. Stephen Bonasera, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, was selected as the Joseph P. Gilmore Distinguished New Investigator Award recipient for 2012. The Joseph P. Gilmore Distinguished New Investigator Award presentation was held on April 4, 2012.
M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program: The M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program was developed to prepare a very select group of outstanding students for careers in academic medicine and research. The program is led by Director, Dr. Shelley Smith and Co-Director Dr. Debra Romberger. Twenty students were invited to interview for the program this year. All of the students interviewed with the exception of one were found acceptable. Four candidates accepted a slot in the program and will begin their summer laboratory rotations in May and June. They will begin medical school with the fall of 2012 class. The number and quality of applicants continues to improve each year. Once again, we joined forces with the BRTP Program in our recruitment effort. The recruiter for the BRTP actively recruits for our program while at Career and Professional Fairs. We plan to continue to collaborate with them in the recruitment of excellent students.
There were two applicants through the Alternative Pathways Program during this academic year. Their applications were rolled into the normal application cycle. Both Alternative Pathway candidates were offered slots in the program so this brings the incoming M.D./Ph.D. scholars up to a total of six. Laboratory rotations began on May 24, 2012. Including the students matriculating this year, there are currently thirty M.D./Ph.D. scholars. The mean GPA of the incoming scholars is 3.76 and the mean MCAT is 33.67.
To ensure students continued success in returning to medical school after completing their Ph.D., the directors of the program installed requirements for scholars during their graduate program. All students participating in their graduate program participate in a program that will allow them to stay current with their medical school skills. During the graduate school years, students are participating in two half-day clinical activities per month. This begins in August following completion of the second year of medical school. Ideally, students have clinical rotations, within the same area/provider for approximately 5 months at a time (August-December and January-May; June and July maybe taken off). The MD/PhD Scholars Program assists the students in identifying appropriate clinical mentors for these rotations based on the scholars’ interests. In addition, scholars attend the Sharing clinic (or equivalent) 4 times per year. The Sharing clinic experience is aimed to keep students in touch with general history taking, physical exam and note-writing skills. In the six months before a scholar returns to medical school for the third year curriculum, the MD/PhD program provides a preparatory short course on clinical skills provided by Dr. Chad Vokoun from the General Internal Medicine Section. Additional short clinical experiences are arranged in preparation for returning to medical school as desired by the scholar in the six months preceding re-entry to medical school. This is the fourth year for the new requirements, and the directors of the program continue to receive positive feedback from the students. The directors feel this process continues to prove beneficial in assisting the students more effectively with the transition period and allows them to return to medical school with more confidence and a greater comfort level.
The program directors continue to meet with each student individually on an annual basis to determine their progress and to renew their annual M.D./Ph.D. Scholars Program Agreement
The Directors continue to be involved with getting to know the students in the program, are working to improve the program, and continue to be strong advocates for the students and the program.
Dean’s Indirect Cost Program Grants: This program was developed to support the submission to the NIH (or other funding agencies that pay full indirect costs) of larger, multiple investigator projects. It is expected that the total direct costs will be a minimum of $500,000. Funds will be made available to assist investigators in building interdisciplinary projects with translational potential. The awards range from $60,000 to $180,000 with half awarded for the first nine months, and following review of the process another nine month award to follow. There is a minimum of two UNMC investigators. While one investigator may be from outside of the College of Medicine, the others must have their primary appointment within the College of Medicine. The majority of the funds should be used for data acquisition as opposed to salary.
For the current year, a call for applications went out to faculty on one occasion. The application deadline was 7/01/2011 and there were eight applications submitted. The Research and Development Committee reviewed the applications, and two were found to be in the fundable range.
M.D. Honors Thesis Program: One Honors Thesis Proposal was submitted to the Research and Development Committee. After the proposal was reviewed and approved by a member of the Research and Development Committee, it was forwarded to the Scholastic Evaluation Committee with a recommendation for approval. It received the Scholastic Evaluation Committee’s approval.
There were two M.D. Honors Thesis’ submitted to the Research and Development Committee for approval. Upon review and approval by the committee, they were forwarded to the Scholastic Evaluation Committee with a recommendation for approval. One student graduated this spring with High Distinction and the other graduated with Distinction.
COM Student Summer Research Program: Twenty-six proposals were submitted from incoming medical students, current medical students and students from the School of Allied Health for summer research. The number of proposals is up by two from last year. Twenty-three of the twenty-six proposals were found fundable. Funding for the 8-12 week summer program ($3,000-4,500 per student) is secured from various sources, including the Dodson Fund, the National Kidney Foundation, the National Medical Foundation and the Niebaum fund.