Innovative PhD program receives $850,000 grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Program will integrate medical knowledge into graduate training

A new doctoral program at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, in which students study the basic life sciences in the context of human biology and disease, will receive $850,000 over four years from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The program, to be led by Martha K. Cathcart, Ph.D., professor of molecular medicine at Case and a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, will include an integrated core curriculum, a clinical mentor program and a specially designed course in principles of clinical research.

Co-directors of the program will be John Lowe, M.D., Ph.D., chair and professor of pathology at the School of Medicine, and Roy Silverstein, M.D., professor of molecular medicine at the School of Medicine and chair of the Clinic's cell biology department. Paul DiCorleto, Ph.D., is chair and professor of molecular medicine the department creating the Ph.D. program at Case and the Clinic.

"This Ph.D. program is designed to integrate medical knowledge into graduate training so that students graduating from this program will be better prepared to conduct translational research and facilitate application of research findings to clinical situations," Cathcart said. "This grant will support the development of our novel curriculum and administration of the program as well as recruitment efforts." The first students are expected to enroll in July 2007, she added.

The grant is one of 13 Med into Grad Initiative grants totaling $10 million announced by HHMI to fund innovative graduate programs that will introduce Ph.D. students to the world of clinical medicine, in an effort to shorten the time it takes to translate basic science discoveries into new medical treatments.

"We, like many others, are concerned by how difficult it is becoming for scientists to harness the explosion of new biomedical research information and translate it into medical practice," said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI president. "At a time when science and medicine must work hand in hand to solve problems of human health and disease, we want to help change graduate education to increase the pool of scientists who are doing medically oriented research."

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A panel of graduate educators, biomedical researchers and physician-scientists helped select the awardees. HHMI received applications from 82 institutions.


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