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Physician-scientists are able to see the full picture: With firsthand exposure to patients, they understand the human side of disease. And with skilled laboratory training, they have the necessary tools to develop therapies to manage disease.

Master’s Program in Clinical and Translational Investigation at Harvard Medical School

14/Dec/2012

Medical Education Profile: Training the Physician-Scientist

Today’s growing emphasis on translational research means that the need for physician-scientists has never been greater. And that’s where the Clinical Investigator Training Program (CITP) has come in. A two-year fellowship, resulting in a Master’s in Medical Science from Harvard Medical School, the CITP has helped launch the careers of an impressive array of translational researchers during its 19-year history. Since 1993, more than 175 CITP graduates have gone on to assume a wide variety of positions throughout academia and industry. Greater than 90% of graduates remain in academic medicine.

CITP Directors Anthony N. Hollenberg, MD, and Darin D. Dougherty, MD

“CITP is committed to training young physician-scientists in the process of translational research,” explains Anthony Hollenberg, MD, CITP Director. “After all, who better to ‘translate’ emerging biomedical discoveries into new therapies and diagnostics than clinicians who also speak the language of basic science?”

Founded by Alan Moses, MD, of the former Beth Israel Hospital and Robert Rubin, MD, of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, the CITP, since its inception, has been supported by a grant from Pfizer ,Inc.; in 2004, Merck & Co. joined Pfizer, and in 2012 Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in supporting the program. The CITP is one of only a few such specialized training programs nationwide, according to Hollenberg, who joined Rubin as co-director in 2004 and Darin Dougherty, MD, from the Department of Psychiatry at MGH who became co-Director in 2012. Linda Bard serves as the program’s administrator.

The program is based on a specialized curriculum that enables trainees to gain direct experience in clinical investigation and, at the same time, acquire the solid academic foundation necessary to carry out patient-oriented research. Course work includes classes in computational and statistical sciences, biomedical ethics, principles of clinical pharmacology, and in vitro and in vivo measurement techniques. During the course of the program, fellows must complete 24 months of laboratory and/or clinical investigation.

“The goal for the fellows to have built the foundation necessary for carrying out patient-oriented research,” adds Dougherty. By applying contemporary research tools to clinically relevant areas of investigation, the participants are poised to compete for careers in academic medicine, industry and regulatory affairs.”

“At a time when relationships between academic medicine and industry – pharmaceutical companies, in particular – has come under intense scrutiny, it’s important to remember that these partnerships can be valuable,” says Hollenberg. “With the current lull in funding for translational researchers, the CITP is of particular value, providing participants with protected time, giving them the freedom and focus to be able to get their research projects off the ground.”

Moving forward for the Future: Master’s Program in Clinical and Translational Investigation at Harvard Medical School

Because of the need to develop growing numbers of outstanding investigators in clinical and translational research, CITP together with Scholar’s Program in Clinical Science, another long-running vibrant MMSc program in clinical research have announced that they will join forces and accept their first joint class in July of 2013. The joint program (Master's Program in Clinical and Translational Investigation) will leverage resources from its founding programs and continue training outstanding early career investigators in clinical and translational research. The two-year program will include both a strong didactic curriculum and a mentored research program. Once admitted to the program, students will receive full tuition support for two years, with the possibility of some research support. Upon completion, graduates will receive an MMSc degree and be ideally positioned for career development awards (e.g. K08 or K23) or the Harvard Catalyst KL2 program.

Applications will be accepted from December 13, 2012 – January 25, 2013. Full details on eligibility and application procedures can be found at http://catalyst.harvard.edu/services/mpcti.

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